We Proclaim Jesus.



GOD BLESS YOU.



Yesuli International Ministries


Ministering to the People of God!


By Joseph Ametepe

 

 

 

Introduction

• Several images are used in the Bible to describe the church. Three of these images are very familiar to believers, namely, the people of God, the body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Each of these images emphasizes an important truth about who we are. The image of the body of Christ emphasizes among others the connection of the church, as a group of believers, with Jesus Christ her Lord. He is the head of this body (Colossians 1:18; 2:19) of which believers are individual members. As the head of the body, the Lord Jesus rules, guides and controls the church. This image also speaks of the interconnectedness between all the believers who make up the church. In other words, there is no such thing as an isolated Christian life. 

• The picture of the church as the temple of the Holy Spirit teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit who brought the church into being and that the church is now indwelt by the Spirit on both individual and a collective basis (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; Ephesians 2:21-22). Dwelling within the church, the Holy Spirit imparts His life to her and conveys power to the church (Acts 1:8; Luke 24:49). Certainly, the image of  the church as the temple of the Holy Spirit reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit who makes the church holy and pure. He leads believers on the highway of holiness.

 • The church is made up of God's people. They belong to God and He belongs to them. The description of the church as the people of God (2 Corinthians 6:16) emphasizes God's initiative in choosing them to be His people and to serve His purpose. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples in the Upper Room, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain" (John 15:16). Being the people of God has wonderful implications. God takes pride in His people. He provides His personal care for them. He protects His people. He keeps them "as the apple of His eye" (Deuteronomy 32:10). These are great privileges. But God expects His people to give Him their undivided loyalty and to serve Him and His purpose. Serving God and His purpose includes serving one another as the people of God.

• Service among believers is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures. God's desire for His people is not only for them to serve Him personally, but also to serve one another. His goal is that His people minister to one another through the power and gifting of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, we live in a self-serving, self-seeking, self-satisfying, self-sufficient, self-saturated and self-centered world, in which people are primarily focused on meeting their own needs, not looking to the interests of others. Sadly, this attitude has spread into the church of our day. Believers, who are looking for a new church home, do so with the "what's in it for me" mentality. It's a fact that we are living in a "me first" generation characterized by a "me first" attitude. This attitude was not seen in our Lord Jesus Christ. He did not exploit people. He did not associate with people for what they could in turn do for Him. If He had, He would never have gone to Zacchaeus's home (Luke 19:1-10), or engaged a Samaritan woman in conversation (John 4:7-26), or allowed the sinful woman to wash His feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50). He came to serve. Period. We must be willing to follow our Lord's example of service. We are called to be servants not masters.

• Ministering to one another was one of the hallmarks of the early Christians. Sadly, however, it is no longer a vital and vibrant part of church life today. The joyous spirit of serving one another and sacrificing to meet the needs of those in the body of Christ, which made the early church's testimony so powerful and praiseworthy (see Acts 2:44-46; 4:32-37), has greatly been lost on us. This is displeasing to the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself purposefully left us with several examples of ministering to one another in His Church. Our Lord Himself stated that His purpose in coming was not to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). In becoming like us, the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). Though great and preeminent, our Lord stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples (John 13:1-12). After His humble act of service, He exhorted His disciples, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:15 - NIV). Later, He declared, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"(John 13:34-35). Our Lord repeated this command to His disciples, saying,  "Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12; cf. 15:17 - NIV). Jesus, our Lord and Savior,  prayed for His disciples and for all believers (see John 17), thus modeling for us the need to serve one another through effective intercessory prayer. Christ also spent a period of three years in preparing His disciples for service. By this example, He taught the importance of equipping believers for ministry. He also edified, educated, exhorted, and encouraged His followers, setting an example for us also to edify, educate, exhort and encourage one another in the household of God.  

• Indeed, our Lord was willing to serve and He served well. His Church, the believing people of God must display a similar willingness to serve as well, and serve well. We have been placed in the world to serve our Lord, His people and the world. The Church is not placed in the world to be exalted and have her own needs and desires satisfied. Although the Church may attain great size, wealth, and prestige, it is not here for that purpose. We are here to serve.

• If our witness as the people of God is to make an indelible mark in our generation, then, we must rediscover the powerful concept of ministering to one another and rededicating ourselves to practicing it in reliance upon the Person of the Holy Spirit. We need revival in serving each other in the body of Christ. We cannot go on doing business "as usual." We must break with our past failure and rise up to the present challenge of the Church, redeeming the time and recapturing the essence of serving one another. We must learn to serve God's people God's way for God's glory and for our good and growth in Jesus Christ.

• It is to this cause that this present ministry article is devoted. 

 

The Definition of Ministry

• Ministry is a privileged-partnership with God through the Holy Spirit and with Spirit-filled born again believers in serving the Person of God Himself, the people of God and the people of the world in love, in order to advance the redemptive purpose of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

• Please notice that in this definition, ministry is both a privilege and a partnership. Furthermore, it is a personal act of service to God, His people, that is, the Body of Christ, and to the people of the world. It is carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of glorifying God.

• It is a privilege because God chooses in His grace to bestow on redeemed sinners the blessed honor of service in His kingdom. There is nothing we could do to deserve or earn this honor. It is purely due to His marvelous and matchless grace. It's all about His grace. It's all about His favor. It's because of His doing, that we, who are savingly related to Him through the blood of Christ could approach the holy and righteous God to serve Him and His purpose in this world. This is an incredible privilege and honor bestowed on mortals.

• It is a partnership because God invites believers in Him to be His fellow-workers. This is awesome. God, who is altogether holy, all-wise, all-knowing, all-truthful, all-powerful, almighty, and all-sufficient, needing no one to assist Him, chooses to call us into His service to be His partners in advancing His redemptive purpose. This is amazing. The Holy Spirit deeply impressed this truth on Apostle Paul's heart. Twice, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he brought it to the attention of the believers in the church of Corinth. 

• "We are God's fellow-workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9).  

• "Working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Corinthians 6:1). 

• In Mark 16:20, we read:

•  "And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed." 

• Also, in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, the Bible says:

•  "We sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow-worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith."

• Clearly, these Scriptures reveal that ministry is indeed a partnership with God, a working together with God Almighty Himself. He did not leave us here to do our best without His partnership and presence.

• Ministry is not only partnership with God, but also partnership with other believers who love God and desire to honor Him. Paul was blessed with both partnership with God and other like-minded believers who served God's purpose out of love for Him. He had partnership with Epaphroditus, whom he described as "my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier" (Philippians 2:25). He also had partnership with Euodia and Synteche, whom he described as "my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life"(Philippians 4:3). Philemon, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke were among Paul's fellow workers (Philemon 1, 24). Prisca and Aquila were also his fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3). Clearly then, ministry is partnership with God and other like-minded believers who are brought together by God to serve His purpose.

• It is a personal act of service. Each and every single believer has been gifted and equipped to serve in the kingdom of the Great King. Serving God, His people, and the people of the world is a personal responsibility for each believer. No one can excuse himself or herself from it.

• Please, also note that the power for service is provided through the Person of the Holy Spirit. Reminding the suffering first century believers (who were scattered in what is now modern Turkey), inspired Apostle Peter clearly presented to them that God is the One who provides strength for our service. 

• "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11).

• Finally, notice that the purpose of ministry in our definition is the glory of God. Ministry is not about our glory. It's not about our fame. It's not about our honor. It's not for our praise. It's all about the glory and honor and praise and fame of the all-sufficient God.


Overview of Article

• The present article focuses on service in God's family God's way. In every family, service is essential for the well-being of the family. Parents serve their children, taking care of them, providing for their needs, listening to their heartaches and hurts, comforting them, encouraging them in their studies, taking them to various practices, games, lessons, and classes (music lessons, soccer, basketball, football, ice hockey, dance, etc.). Similarly, the children in the family also learn to serve their parents and their siblings. Their service may include, running errands, cleaning the house, washing dishes, mowing the lawn, helping in preparing meals for the family, caring for and feeding the family pet, etc. As each member of the family plays a responsible role in serving the family, the family experiences healthy growth. Needs are met and the family's purpose for existence is set on the path of being achieved. However, if some members in the family fail to share in the service of the family, the family suffers and becomes a dysfunctional family. Such a family sets itself on the path of failure, frustration, friction and fracture. 

• In the spiritual family of God, all members has the responsibility and privilege of serving one another. Serving one another builds up the family of God. It brings the best out of each member. It promotes a healthy relationship within the family. It strengthens family ties in the household of God. It leads to the fulfillment of God's purpose for His family. This is why it so important if not imperative for each member of the family of God to take serving one another seriously. We must not fail in sharing the load of service in the family of God. Failure to share in the privilege and responsibility of serving in the household of God will hurt the family as a whole and hinder its healthy growth.

• Since the spiritual family of God was designed and established by God, He knows how best we are to serve each other. He has revealed this to us in His Word. To achieve His goal for designing and establishing His family, we must follow His instructions for serving one another. This means that we must take a fresh look at His Word and discover how He wants us to minister to each other in His family. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, I will endeavor to bring out from the Scriptures the ways in which we are to serve each other God's way for His glory and for our good and growth in Christ.

 

Serving Each Other in God's Family God's Way

A. Excelling in loving one another (1 Thess. 4:9-10; 3:12; 2 Thess. 1:3-4; John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Rom. 12:9-10; 1 John 3:11; 4:7-11, 19-21)

• The God we serve is a God of love. The Bible says "God is love" (1 John 4:8, 16). 

• Scripture assures us that God loves His people with an everlasting love. 

• "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have draw you with lovingkindness" (Jeremiah 31:3). 

• It goes on to say: 

• "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are" (1 John 3:1). 

• Again it testifies:

• "By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10). 

• Clearly, our God is a God of overflowing and everlasting love. He loves us unconditionally. He loves us with all that is within Him - selfless, sacrificial love. His love for us is such that He always seeks the best for us. He has only our best interest at heart. No one will ever love us like Him. We could search throughout all the earth and for all eternity long and find that there is none who freely and fully loves us like Him.

• Since God personally loves us, He commands and expects us to love one another. Our love for those in the family of God is based on God's love for us. Having stated emphatically that God loves believers, Apostle John wrote in the Spirit:

• "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God... Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another...We love because He first loved us. If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also" (1 John 4:7,11, 19-21).

• These Scriptures are self-explanatory. They teach us the simple truth that in the family of God, genuine, selfless and sacrificial love for one another should be a distinguishing mark. We are to excel in loving one another as God's people. Our Lord Jesus Himself taught that love for one another is key to distinguishing His people. Instructing His disciples before going to the cross, He said:

•  "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

•  Our Lord later repeated His command to His disciples to love one another.

• "This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you... This I command you, that you love one another" (John 15:12,17).

• Clearly then, one of the ways we minister to each other in the body of Christ is loving each other. We are to love each other as Christ loved us. The love with which Christ loved us and still loves us is an agape love. The best description and definition of this love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Such agape love is patient. It is kind. It is not jealous. It does not brag. It is not arrogant. It is not rude. It does not seek its own, that is, it is not self-seeking.  It is not provoked. In other words, it is not touchy or fretful or resentful. It does not keep record of wrong. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness. Rather, it rejoices with the truth. This agape love bears all things. It believes all things. It hopes all things. This love never fails - never fades out. 

• Is it humanly possible to have such a love and to love as Christ loved us and still does? Do we have the ability to love in this way? Is God not asking us to do something that is impossible for us to do?

• Scripture gives us a clear and convincing answer to these questions. It says in Romans 5:5b, "The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." God has abundantly poured out His own love,agape love within our regenerated and renewed hearts through the Holy Spirit. At the time of our conversion, the Holy Spirit comes to take residence in us. But He doesn't come empty-handed. He comes with the full load of the agape love of God. We have the capacity therefore to love God and one another with His love. He didn't ask us to do something that is impossible. Why? He filled and flooded our hearts with all His divine love, as much as we can contain. This love is to be used in loving those in the household of God that all men will know that we are truly His.

• The Bible commands, "Let love be without hypocrisy...Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Romans 12:9, 10). 

• Scripture also strongly encourages believers to increase and abound in love for one another and do so more and more. 

• "May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you... Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia, But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more" (1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9-10).

• Are we excelling in loving one another in the body of Christ?

 Are we abounding in love for one another?

 Are we always seeking the best for our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ?

  Are we selfless in our love for God's people?

 Do we have sincere and genuine love for each other?

 Serving God's people God's way calls for excelling in loving one another. Loving one another is an essential  service in God's family. May the Holy Spirit assist us to do so for the world to see that we are indeed the followers of the Greatest Lover of all times - Jesus Christ!

 

B.  Equipping  (Ephesians 4:11-14)

•  Our Lord Jesus is the greatest model of the ministry of equipping. He spent three years equipping the twelve disciples for the work of service. He invested Himself in these men. He prepared them for the service God had called them to.

• The disciples followed in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus. They knew the importance of equipping other believers for the work of service. Whether it was Peter, John, Paul, Priscilla or Aquila or some unnamed  and unknown believers, they took equipping of other believers seriously.

• In Ephesians 4:11-14, the Bible speaks of the equipping of believers and the benefits of this service. 

• "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming."

• The word for "equip" comes from the Greek verb "katartismos." It also means perfect, prepare, or train. Actually it is a medical term used of the setting of a broken bone in place to heal. This gives us a sense that equipping is a very thoughtful, careful, delicate and rewarding service.

• One of God's gifts to churches is evangelists, pastors and teachers to prepare and equip the people of God for service. However the preparation and equipping need not always be done by the official pastor-teacher of a church. Neither does it need to be done in a large group setting. A beautiful picture of this truth is seen in Acts 18. Apollos first came on the scene in this chapter. He was a learned and eloquent Jew who had come to a knowledge of Jesus. He spoke powerfully in the synagogue at Ephesus. After hearing him speak, Priscilla and Aquila invited him to their home. There, they "explained to him the way of God more accurately" (Acts 18:26). The result was that Apollos continued his ministry with even greater effectiveness. He went on to Achaia where "he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (Acts 18:27-28).

• Those who are divinely gifted should work toward the day when the believers will be able to carry on by themselves. This is what equipping is all about. It is not about making people perpetually dependent on us. Those who are equipped are enabled to go forth and minister to others according to the gifts God has given them. In this way the church grows and expands and is built up.

• The benefits of equipping or preparing God's people for works of service are tremendous. Priscilla's and Aquila's equipping of Apollos set him on the road of greater effectiveness in his ministry. He also grew in his knowledge of Jesus Christ. He matured in Christ. According to Ephesians 4:13-14, equipping the saints for the work of service leads to the building up of the body of Christ, reaching unity in the faith, becoming mature in Christ, becoming stable in the faith, that is, no longer being infants tossed back and forth by waves, and blown by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. In other words, when the gifted servants of God operate in their God-appointed manner, and each believer is doing his part, the church is set on the path of unity, maturity, and conformity into Christlikness. Furthermore, the dangers of immaturity, instability and gullibility among God's people are avoided.

• Although you may not be a pastor, yet you can still serve God's people in the ministry of equipping. Older and mature believers can equip younger believers. Even believers who are younger in the faith can help in equipping little children. Parents can equip their children for service. Equipping is about passing on what we've learned and known of Jesus Christ to other believers. It's about explaining the way of God more accurately to others to help them become more effective servants of Jesus Christ. It's about investing in the lives of other believers whether individually or collectively.

• Are you an equipper in your church or home?

• Are you investing in the lives of other believers to help them grow in Christ and become more effective servants of Jesus Christ?

• Are you equipping or entertaining?

• We cannot neglect this ministry of equipping in the church. Today, the church is filled and full of entertainers than equippers. We have Christian comedians and magicians and rock stars and artists etc., who entertain us in the church. But few are those who see the value of this service of preparing others for the work of ministry. Because we have more entertainers than equippers in the church, it is not surprising to see that people in God's family are being blown here and there by every wind of teaching. The emotional pendulum keeps swinging back and forth. People live more by their emotions than by the eternal and unchanging word of God. The church of today needs more equippers than entertainers. 

• Oh that we would choose today in reliance upon the Holy Spirit to serve God's people God's way by committing to equipping a believer God brings our way! What a difference it would make in our lives and in the lives of those we commit ourselves to equipping for the work of ministry.

 

C.  Edifying one another (1 Cor. 14:26; Rom. 14:19)

• Again, our Lord Jesus is a great model for us. He edified or built up His followers. His goal was not tear down His disciples in order to prove His greatness and preeminence. Rather His goal was to build up them up. Therefore He went about methodically building up His chosen followers.

• Edification of believers is indeed an important function and service of the church. The Holy Spirit stressed its importance by referring to it several times. 

• In Ephesians 4:16, the Bible makes it clear that believers are to grow up into Christ: 

• "from whom whole the body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love." 

• The Greek word translated "building up" is "oikodomen." It is the noun form of the Greek verb  "oikodomeo." This verb means build, build up, encourage, strengthen, benefit, edify. It is used figuratively of building up the Christian church.

• Our manner of speech as believers is to be such that others in the believing community are edified. 

• "Let no unwholesome (lit. rotten) word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). 

• Mutual edification is the goal for which God has equipped the church with various gifts which are apportioned and bestowed by the Holy Spirit. 

• "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7).

• The importance of edifying others in the family of God is stressed in the exercise of the "controversial" spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy. "

• One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying" (1 Corinthians 14:4-5). 

• The Holy Spirit's instruction on the service of edification reveals that believers are to try to excel in gifts that build up God's people. 

• "So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church." 

• The Holy Spirit drives home His point about the importance of the service of edification in the believing community by stating that all things within the body of Christ should be done for edification. 

• "What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26). 

• This is an important principle that should govern the assemble of God's people. We are to gather with the goal of edifying one another. Our primary goal in gathering together to worship is to exalt God. 

• Please note that edification is mutual upbuilding by all the members of the body. It is not merely the minister or pastor or teacher who is to edify the other members of the church. You don't need to be a pastor, elder, deacon, or a minister with a special title to edify other believers. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you are qualified to build up fellow believers. In fact you are to make every effort in the Holy Spirit to do what leads to mutual edification in the family of God. 

• "So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another" (Romans 14:19). 

• To serve God's people God's way calls for making every effort in the Holy Spirit to edify or build up our brothers and sisters and Christ. The early believers built up each other. This resulted in a strong and healthy Christian fellowship and witness. I think one of the reasons why the church's fellowship and witness are weak is that we have failed in this service of building up one another. We are not secure  and content in who we are in Christ. We fear that edifying others will make them more likable and well-received than us. Until we set aside our personal interests and ambitions and pursue those of Christ, we will find it difficult to edify one another.

• Do you know how important it is for you as a believer to commit to serving God's people God's way by building them up?

• Are you making every effort in reliance upon the Holy Spirit to edify your brothers and sisters in Christ for a stronger fellowship and witness of the church?

 

D.  Educating (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:42; Col. 1:28; 3:16)

•  Nobody educated like the Lord Jesus. He taught with the goal of transforming people's lives. His teaching changed the lives of His followers. Tax collectors, fishermen, zealots, publicans, prostitutes, rejects and  the scum of society, etc., who sat under His teaching with an open heart were transformed. Indeed, Jesus Christ was the Greatest Educator who ever lived. Before the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He left His church with the Great Commission, the last part of which has to do with education, that is, "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you"(Matthew 28:20).

• Education in the Church is essential for the growth of the Church. An uneducated Church will not only fail to reach her potential but she will also fail in being used to change lives for the glory of God. The Christian life is about Christ and the change He brings in the lives of people. 

• The early Christian knew how vital education in the Christian faith was for the progress and effectiveness of the church. They knew that serving God's people God's way demanded that they all seriously got involved in the education ministry of the church. As such, from the very beginning of the church in Jerusalem, teaching was a priority. 

• "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42).

• Through the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul described his service in the church as one of admonishing and instructing God's people. 

• "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ"(Colossians 1:28). 

• Please notice that Paul's ministry of education was centered on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not spend his time on politics or philosophy, but concentrated on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, because he realized that Christianity is Christ. Similarly, our education ministry must center on the Person of the Lord Jesus to be effective. Paul's ministry was a man-to-man ministry. Paul and his fellow workers warned the unbelievers of the awful wrath to come. They also taught God's people the great truths of the Christian faith. They were not satisfied to see souls saved and then to pass on. They wanted to present every man complete or perfect in Christ. In other words, the goal of their education was not information but transformation. They didn't want to leave the believers as weak and mere babies in Christ. They wanted them to be mature, full-grown, adult Christians. Simply put, they wanted the believers under their care to be well-grounded in the truth that transforms life.

• Education in the church is not a service for only ministers and pastors. It is a service that God expects all of His believing people to participate in on many levels. Pastors and teachers may teach the congregation. But others can teach in the Christian education classes at the Sunday School. Still others are equipped to teach in small home group Bible studies. Others are equipped to teach at Bible conferences and seminars involving many local churches. Seminary and divinity schools equip pastor-teachers and others to instruct God's people in the Word. The home is the greatest place for serving as an educator. God has designed the home to be the place where His Word, His ways and His works are presented so that the little ones can learn of Him and of His ways (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 20-25). Christian parents do not only provide for their families, God expects them to educate their children and train them in the ways of the Lord. The point here is that we each have a role to play in the ministry of education among God's people. God expects us to pass on what we have learned of Him to others for the strengthening and growth of the church.  "And what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2).

• "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your heats to God"(Colossians 3:16). 

• Every Christian has a responsibility to his brothers and sisters in Christ concerning the service of education. We owe it to God's people to share our knowledge of the Word of God with them, and seek to help them by practical and godly counsel.

• Do you have a burden for the service of educating your brothers and sisters in the Christ at whatever level God wants you to serve His people?

• Is the Word of Christ richly dwelling in you in order for you to minister to the educational needs of others in the body of Christ?

• Are you passing on what you have learned in the Christian faith to others who will in turn be able to teach others?

• It is sad that although some have been Christians for a long time, yet they are still babes in Christ, needing milk not solid food. We need a revival in the education ministry of the church. 

• "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Hebrews 5:12).

• Serving God's people God's way urgently requires that we take the command of teaching one another seriously.

 

E.  Encouraging one another (1 Thess. 5:14; Titus 2:3-4; Heb. 4:13; 10:24-25)

• The Lord Jesus is a perfect model for ministry of encouraging one another. He knew not only of the importance of the ministry of encouragement among His Church but also its necessity for the health and growth of His Church. He spent a great deal of time with His disciples encouraging them when they were downcast and dispirited about His departure. His Upper Room discourse (John 13-17) is a classic example of His ministry of encouragement. He knew His disciples needed His encouragement and He did just that. Even while He was in Gethsemane, in a most crucial time of His life, in which He was about to face those who were coming to arrest Him, He was still ministering encouragement to His disciples urging them to pray to gain strength to overcome temptation (Matthew 26:40-44).

• Barnabas, which translated means "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36) served as a great encourager in the early church. It was through his encouragement that Paul (then Saul) was accepted by the Jerusalem church (Acts 9:26-29). It was Barnabas that the Jerusalem church sent to Antioch to check on the fruit on the preaching ministry of the scattered persecuted believers. One of the first things he did after witnessing the grace of God among the brand new believers was to encourage them. 

• "Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord" ( Acts 11:23). 

• The Greek word translated "encourage" comes from the Greek verb "parakaleo." It has a broad range of meaning, "encourage, speak words of encouragement; to console, comfort, cheer up; appeal to, urge or exhort." In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, the word is translated "comfort" whilst in 5:11 of the same book, it is translated "encourage" in the NASB. Context determines which of these meanings is to be used.

• The early church took the ministry of encouragement seriously. After their release from their imprisonment at Philippi, Paul and Silas spent time with the new converts the Lord had brought to Himself through their ministry.

• "They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed" (Acts 16:40). 

• Paul and Silas needed encouragement themselves after being beaten, mistreated and thrown into jail. But they knew that the new believers needed encouragement to continue in their faith since they had to leave town.

• Paul and Silas also ministered encouragement to the new believers God brought to Himself through their evangelistic work in the city of Thessalonica. Paul and Silas were not there for long before the enemies of the gospel stirred up opposition against them. Seeing the opposition, the brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea (see Acts 17:1-10). But before the left town, the missioners spent time encouraging these new converts. The Holy Spirit gives us a glimpse of their service of encouragement in 1 Thessalonians 2:11:

• "Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children." 

• The Greek word translated "encouraging" in the above verse by the NASB comes from the Greek verb "paramytheomai." It means encourage, cheer up, console, or comfort. NIV translates it as "comforting." The key here is that through the Holy Spirit, Paul and Silas ministered comforting encouragement to each believer in the new church at Thessalonica. They knew that each believer in the body of Christ needs encouragement.

• Even after Paul and Silas had left Thessalonica they saw to it that the believers there were further encouraged in their faith. When the believers in the church at Thessalonica were going through the furnace of affliction and even thought that they were left behind, the Holy Spirit moved Paul and his team to send Timothy to serve them by strengthening their faith and encouraging them. These believers desperately needed the ministry of encouragement in order to run the race to the finish line. 

• "Therefore when we could not endure it longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow-worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this" (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3).

• To emphasize the importance of the ministry of encouragement among His people, God did not only illustrate it through the lives of His Son and His saints, but He commanded it several times. 

• "We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone" (1 Thessalonians 5:14). 

• Notice that this command applies to the brethren, that is, the believers of the church. Every believer is to share in the ministry of encouragement.  

• "Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin"(Hebrews 4:13). 

• Notice again that this command is not limited to a ministerial class but is a privileged service  and duty of all believers. It should continue as long as it is called "Today," that is, as long as God's offer of salvation by grace through faith continues. In days of difficulty and distress, especially, God's people should be daily urging, encouraging their suffering brothers and sisters to cling to Christ, to confess Him, to call on Him, to cry out to Him, to cast their burdens on Him, to come to Him, to continue with Him, and to commit themselves ever more to Him.

• "Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25). 

• To serve God's people God's way demands we should be finding ways of encouraging fellow believers. We should also have a sense of urgency about this. The day is drawing near when we will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of how we have served His purpose on earth.

• Is their a hurting believer in your fellowship or church? Have you found ways to encourage him to cling to Christ, to continue with Him?

• Have you left the ministry of encouragement to the pastor-teacher in your church? 

• Remember, you are called and equipped to serve others in the family of God through your encouragement. God wants to encourage others through you as He did through Christ, Barnabas, Paul, Silas and Timothy. 

• Would you let Him encourage others through you? Not only would the people you encourage be blessed, you would also be blessed. When God's people serve God's way by encouraging one another everyone wins.

 

F.  Exhorting one another (Rom. 12:8) 

• The Lord Jesus not only encouraged but He also exhorted His followers. He continually exhorted His disciples while on earth and even after His resurrection His post resurrection ministry of exhortation is recorded for us in Revelation 2 and 3.

•  The early church took the ministry of exhortation seriously. This was very evident in the ministry of Apostle Paul. 

• "After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece" (Acts 20:1-2). 

• The Holy Spirit sent a message of exhortation to the divided church at Corinth urging them to turn the focus from themselves to others in the church. They were to do all things for the edification  (1 Corinthians 14:26) and exhortation of others.  

• "For you can can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn andall may be exhorted" (1 Corinthians 14:31). 

• To the afflicted believers in Thessalonica the Holy Spirit sent this word of exhortation.

• "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more"(1 Thessalonians 4:1). 

• The inspired writer of Hebrews urged the believers he was writing to, to "bear with this word of exhortation, for I have briefly written to you" (Hebrews 13:22).

• The Greek word translated "exhort" is from the verb "parakaleo." KJV, NASB and the RSV seem to be consistent in their translation of this Greek verb, using "encourage" in certain contexts and "exhort" in other contexts. Although "exhort" and "encourage" come from the same Greek verb, there is a slight difference in meaning. Exhort seems to be used in contexts where there is a need to urge earnestly or advise strongly. Paul often earnestly urged believers he was leaving behind. The seriousness of his ministry of exhortation is also seen in the use of the expression "exhort you in the Lord Jesus." 

• God has gifted the church with exhorters. He expects them to use this gift in enriching the life of the church. "He who exhorts, in his exhortation" (Romans 12:8)

• We may not all have the gift of exhortation, but I believe that the Holy Spirit is able to call upon us from time to time to exhort others in the household of faith. He can bestow that gift momentarily for a specific service of exhortation in the body of Christ. There are those who need to be strongly advised against walking in unrighteousness. They may not see the seriousness of their choices and actions. They would need someone to lovingly exhort them in the Lord Jesus.

• Serving God's people God's way calls for a new commitment to the ministry of exhortation of our believing brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

G.  Electing to speak truth with each other (Eph. 4:25; Col. 3:9)

• In His ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus, who the Bible describes as being full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and the truth (John 14:6), taught only what was truthful. There was no deceit in His mouth (Isaiah 53:9). He was the embodiment of truth. Even His fierce opponents, the Pharisees and the Herodians saw and acknowledged this about His life and ministry. 

• "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any" (Matthew 22:16). 

• Our Lord's truthfulness was a great service to God's people and all of humanity. Unlike the devil, who is the deceiver of the nations (Revelations 20:3,8,10) and the father of lies (John 8:44), our Lord Jesus is wholly truthful and tells only the truth. I am so grateful that Jesus came and told us the truth of God in order to lead us to the path of freedom and righteousness. The devil's goal in coming to earth is to deceive and therefore hold people in bondage. He has come to deceive and destroy. He has been at this for long time. 

• We are living in a deceitful age. There is so much fraud and deception in the governments of the world. Top level companies promise one thing and do another. There are scandals all over. Good is being called evil. Evil is being called. 

• Isaiah the prophet received this revelation from God about the people of Judah.

• "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar; for truth has has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey" (Isaiah 59:14-15). 

• Jeremiah served as the next major prophet after Isaiah. He was also given a similar revelation about the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

• "They bend their tongue like their bow; lies and not truth prevail in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me, declares the LORD. Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; because every brother deals craftily, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbor and does not speak the truth, they have taught their tongue to speak lies, they weary themselves committing iniquity. Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me, declares the LORD... Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit; with his mouth one speaks peace with his neighbor, but inwardly he sets an ambush for him" (Jeremiah 9:3-8).

• Although this was a revelation concerning Judah in the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah, it certainly reflects what we are seeing in our day. Truth is being set aside. It is now accepted in our society to lie to advance one's career. Deceit and lies, not truth prevail in our society. Professional athletes cheat in order to attain greatness and glory. Fake and false diplomas are obtained by those who did not  go through the required academic training. There is a great deal of cheating in schools. There is bribery and corruption in governments, institutions and companies. Falsehood continues to rise and rule in our society at all levels.

• But this need not be the case among God's people. God's people are to be truthful because their God is truthful. He is committed to truth. One of the ways God's people can serve one another God's way is to commit themselves to speaking truth to each other. We must not live as the world. We must say goodbye to our former manner of life characterized by deceitfulness and put on the new self of righteousness and holiness. 

• Knowing that speaking truth to one another is not only a reflection of His character but also a key part of service in His family, God commanded His people to do so. 

• "Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another" (Ephesians 4:25). 

• "Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with evil practices, and have put on the new self which is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him"(Colossians 3:9-10). 

• Falsehood, lying, cheating, and deception do not fit who we are. 

• As believers we are to speak the truth in love to one another. Doing so results in a healthy growing up in all aspects into Christ who is the head (Ephesians 4:15).

• According to our Lord Jesus, the truth sets free (John 8:32). Therefore electing to speak truth to one another helps us walk in freedom. Those who lie and cheat are held in bondage. They have to cover up their lies with more lies. Each time they lie they sink deeper into bondage.

• Are you serving God's people by speaking truth to them?

• Have you laid aside falsehood?

• Are you known as a truthful person among God's people?

• Serving God's people God's way demands that we each resolve to rely on the Holy Spirit to speak truth to each other. This is God's way. This is how He wants His people to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. He will not lower His standard. He will not compromise on this. He expects each member in His family to be truthful in his dealings with the rest in the family. He knows that the culture in which we live does not honor truth. But He has given us His Spirit of truth to assist us in our walk on the highway of truth. He will not accept any excuse from us on this matter.

 

H.  Extending forgiveness to one another  (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13)

• Our God is a forgiving God. The psalmist declared in the Holy Spirit:

• "If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared" (Psalm 130:3-4). 

• The Lord Jesus who is the exact representation of God's nature and the radiance of God's glory extended forgiveness to sinners because He had authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:1-6). 

His teaching on prayer has forgiveness as an important element. 

• "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors... For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:12, 14-15). 

• Furthermore, our Lord revealed His heart of forgiveness when He instructed His disciples to forgive their brother who sins against them, even up to seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). He taught, "If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). The Lord Jesus expects His followers to forgive those who genuinely repent of their sins. Using a parable, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples about the danger of an unforgiving spirit (see Matthew 18:23-35). An unforgiving spirit holds us in bondage. It makes us worse than the person we are not willing to forgive.

• The Holy Spirit also commanded God's people to forgive each other through His servant apostle Paul. 

• "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). 

• "Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just the Lord forgave you, so also  should you" (Colossians 3:13).

• When we forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ who sin against us, we are not only providing an essential service to the people of God, but we also reflect the very character of God. An unforgiving believer doesn't reflect God's character. What's more, he is held in bondage by an unforgiving spirit.

• The people of the world live by the principle of getting even. But those in God's family are to live above this carnal rule. God's people are to forgive their repentant brothers and sisters who sin against them.

• As a believer, have you been extending forgiveness to fellow believers who sin against you?

• Do you find it difficult forgiving those who genuinely repent of their sins?

• Are you one who harbors an unforgiving spirit in your heart toward a brother who sins against you?

• Let's remember that God has forgiven us so much than we will ever forgive others, especially those in the family of God. Serving God's people God's way demands that we learn to forgive those who trespass against us. By strength the Holy Spirit supplies we can extend forgiveness to those who have wronged and hurt us in the body of Christ.

 

I.  Expressing appreciation for one another  (Rom 12:10; 1 Thess. 5:12-13)

• Serving God's people God's way demands that God's people express their appreciation for one another in Jesus Christ. Every believer in the family of God is precious to God. Servant-leaders who are given the privileged responsibility of shepherding and caring for the flock, as well as the rest of the flock are dear to God's heart. We all have value before Him. 

• In His sermon on the mount, the Lord Jesus spoke of the worth of His people.

•  "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?" (Matthew 6:26). 

• Believers are priceless in God's sight. Each Christian is His special treasure. We are so precious to Him that even our death is precious in His sight. 

• "Precious in the the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones"(Psalm 116:15). 

• Because of who we are in Jesus Christ, and what we each contribute to the family of God, we are to express appreciation for one another. One of the greatest disservices God's people do to each other is their failure to express genuine appreciation to their brothers and sisters in Christ. 

In Romans 12:10, the Holy Spirit gives these commands to God's people. 

• "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor."  

• What the Holy Spirit is commanding here is that in our relations with those who are in the household of faith, we should demonstrate our love by tender affection, grateful recognition, not by cool indifference or routine acceptance. We should prefer to see others honored rather than ourselves. This service can only become a reality in the family of God if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives to value and appreciate our brothers and sisters in Christ.  

• Writing to the first century church at Thessalonica, the Holy Spirit stresses the importance of the service of expressing appreciation for those who work hard in the household of faith. "

• But we request you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give instruction, and that you esteem them highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). 

• The Greek word translated "appreciate" by the NASB is eidenai, from the verb "oida," which means in this context "to pay proper respect to someone, to recognize or honor someone, take an interest in someone, care for someone."

• The above passage clearly shows that there was no one-man rule in first century New Testament churches. There was a group of servant-leaders or elders in each congregation shepherding the flock. These servant-leaders were undershepherds of God's sheep with the responsibility of shepherding, instructing, ruling and warning God's people. These were to be paid the proper respect and recognition for who they were in Christ and what they did for Christ's sake. Their work is the work of God. For that reason, they should be held in high regard and love. This regard, respect, recognition, or expressing of appreciation does not stop with the undershepherds in the local church. It applies to home group Bible study leaders, youth leaders, prayer ministry leaders, leaders in worship and music ministry, choir members, workers in the various children ministries, volunteers and all who contribute in a meaningful way to the spiritual health and growth of the local church at one level or the other.

• Expressing appreciation for one another in the family of God is a healthy way of building up one another. To express appreciation for one another is not worshiping one another. Neither does it mean receiving your reward in full ( Matthew 6:5). Expressing appreciation for one another simply means taking an interest in our brothers and sisters in Christ and paying proper respect to them for who they are in Christ and what they do to contribute to the proper functioning of the local church. God Himself will do that when we stand before Him. He will say to those who have served Him faithfully out of love for Him: 

• "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:21; cf. 25:23).

 Serving God's people God's way requires we express appreciation for one another.

 Are you serving His people in this way?

• Is expressing appreciation for one another a frequent practice in your local church or home?

 

J.  Exercising Christian discipline (Matt. 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; 1 Tim. 5:20) 

• The Lord Jesus Himself laid down guiding principles for Christian discipline in His Church in Matthew 18:15-17. 

• "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." 

• There are three steps in the explicit instructions given by our Lord concerning the believer's responsibility when wronged by another believer. The first step is that the matter should be handled privately between the two persons,  that is, the offender and the offended. The offended person is commanded to go to the offender in private and show him his fault or wrong-doing. If the offender acknowledges his guilt in humility and genuinely apologizes to the offended, reconciliation is achieved. The trouble is that most of us who are offended don't go to the offender. Rather, we gossip to everyone about it. Then the matter spreads like wildfire and strife is multiplied in the believing community. 

• The second step involves bringing in one or two partners to provide competent testimony as required by the Scripture from Deuteronomy 19:15. Trouble has plagued the church for ages through our failure to obey the simple rule that a charge against another believer must be supported by the testimony of two or three others. The Holy Spirit reiterates the guiding principle of step two in the case of an accusation against an elder in a form of a prohibition. "Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses" (1 Timothy 5:19). 

• The third step is a public meeting with the local church, where the case is related to the local congregation. If the offender continues to be stubborn and hardened at heart, then there may even be a need for excommunication from the believing community, as in the case of the immoral man mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:1-2. The local church should do their best to treat the hardened offender courteously but should in no way condone his sin. However, when there is genuine evidence of sincere godly repentance, the church should promptly receive the repentant offender back into their fold.

• Clearly, from the guiding principles laid down by our Lord, all believers have a role to play in Christian discipline within the church. We may the ones wronged. Or we may be the offenders. In either case, we have a role of repenting or relating the fault to our brother. Despite the clear instructions given by our Lord Jesus, the church today does very little Christian disciplining. This has led to the weakening of the church's testimony. 

• The early church took church discipline seriously. No one was above church discipline. Apostle Peter was confronted by Apostle Paul when the former was clearly in the wrong (see Galatians 2:11-18). The immoral man at Corinth was removed from the believing community (1 Corinthians 5:1-7) and was later restored to fellowship after his godly repentance (2 Corinthians 2:4-11; 7:7-12).

• The goal of Christian discipline is not to rid the fellowship of the sinning believer, but to restore such a person to the Lord, to the people of God and to righteous living. It should therefore not be carried out in a spirit of bitterness or enmity, but rather in Christian love, courtesy, firmness and in all gentleness.

• "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). 

• The expression "caught in any trespass" describes a believer who has committed an act of sin rather than one who is habitually sinful. Such a person is to be dealt with by spiritual Christians, that is, those who are filled with the Spirit and are walking by the Spirit and are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is not a job for a carnal Christian. Why? A carnal Christian might, by a hard, harsh, and cold attitude, do more harm than good in this situation. It is probably that the offender will not receive the discipline of one who is himself out of fellowship with the Lord.

• What should be done to a believer who refuses to submit to the authority of Scripture? Should he be left undisciplined? Should he be allowed to have his way within the believing community? Should he be left alone? How does God want such a person to be treated in His Church? 

• The Bible clearly spells out for us what the believing community should do in such a situation. 

• "If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother" (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). 

• The believing community is here enjoined to discipline such a person by refusing to have social fellowship with him. Clearly, the stated purpose for this disciplinary action is to shame him for his rebellious behavior and compel him to mend his ways. This disciplinary action is not as strong as excommunication. Here the offender is still looked on as a brother, while in excommunication he is counted as "a Gentile and a tax-collector" (Matthew 18:17).

• Christian discipline entails correction and rebuke.  

• "Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning" (1 Timothy 5:20). 

• Anyone, whether an elder in a local church or a believing member of a local church, who continues to sin in such a way as to harm the testimony of the church, should be publicly rebuked. This disciplinary action is intended to communicate to the whole church the seriousness of continuing in sin. It also serves as a strong deterrent in the lives of others in the local church.

• Exercising Christian discipline within the household of faith is a vital service in the church. To neglect it is to nullify the clear instructions of the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus, and His inspired apostles. To ignore it is to invalidate God's design for His Church. To reject it is to rebel against the wise and loving commands of the Holy Spirit. To take it lightly is to turn away from the path of righteousness and holiness. To oppose it is to obstruct the flow of God's blessings into our lives.

• Where do you stand with the exercise of Christian discipline in the church? 

• Do you see it as a necessary and vital service in the church? 

• Or do you see it as something that only applies to the first century church and not for the twenty-first century church? 

• Will you support the exercise of Christian discipline in your local church or fellowship when it is done in love and in all gentleness with the aim of restoring a believing sinner?

• Serving God's people God's way strictly demands that all believers take the exercise of Christian discipline seriously. 

 

K.  Empathizing with  each other (Rom. 12:15; Heb. 13:3; Job 30:25) 

• Serving God's people God's way demands that we learn to empathize with each other. This service is expected of each member in the family of God because God specifically commanded it in His Word.  

• "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep"(Romans 12:15). 

• We are to share in the emotions and feelings of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

• Empathy is the ability for sharing vicariously the feelings and emotions of others. Our tendency is to be jealous, not joyful when others rejoice, and to pass by unmoved and unconcerned when fellow believers mourn. Serving God's people God's way is for us to enter into the joys and sorrows of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

• When Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of four southeastern states, namely, LA, AL, MI, and FL, killing thousands and displacing hundreds of thousands, some of which are believers in Jesus Christ, my first prayer was a prayer of confession. I didn't readily share in the sorrows of these brothers and sisters who have lost loved ones, jobs, homes, churches and their precious possessions. I shared my confession with a believing sister. She later told me that she was also convicted about her lack of empathy. When we are not the ones going through suffering and sorrow, we tend to do "business as usual." Our hearts are not readily moved within us to enter into the sorrows of others. This is sad. May the Holy Spirit do a work in each of our hearts to learn to share in the emotions, thoughts or feelings of our brothers and sisters in Christ!

• Job, one of the early Old Testament saints understood what it meant to empathize with others. 

• "Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?" (Job 30:25). 

• David, the servant of God and the king of Israel also empathized with others in the household of faith. 

• "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer kept returning to my bosom" (Psalms 35:13). 

• Although David humbly and faithfully shared in the pain and emotions of others in their hard times, yet those he empathized with did not empathize with him in his difficult times. At David's stumbling, they rejoiced. They gathered together against him. They slandered him without ceasing. In addition, they gnashed their teeth at him (Psalm 35:15-16). David did not focus on how people would respond to his empathy. He was not consumed by that. He would not allow that to take the better part of him. He knew what he was called to do and he did it willingly and lovingly, leaving the results to God. That's how we are to empathize with others. We do it through the strength God supplies and leave the outcome to God.

• Empathizing with others is an important service in the family of God. As such, the Holy Spirit repeatedly brought it to the attention of God's people. 

• "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored all members rejoice with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26). 

• A well-known fact in the human body is that what affects one member affects all. Fever, for instance, is not confined to one part of the body, but affects the whole system. So it is with other types of sicknesses and pain. The reason for this is that although the members are distinct and separate, yet they all form part of the one body. They are so vitally linked together so that what affects one member affects all. Similarly, in the Body of Christ, anything that hurts another believer should cause us the keenest concern and sorrow. Likewise, we should not feel jealous but joyful, if we see another believer honored.

• In His exhortations to the Hebrew Christians, the Holy Spirit commands:

• "Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body"(Hebrews 13:3). 

• The prisoners here were those who were jailed for their testimony for Jesus Christ. They would certainly need food, warm clothing, reading matter, letters, and encouragement from the believing community to stand firm and true to the end. The temptation would be for other believers to stay away or shield themselves from association with prisoners and thus from the danger of guilt by association.

• I wonder how many of us remember the plight of our persecuted brothers and sisters. Many of them are suffering in dark, cold and lonely prisons.

• Do we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts to enter their sorrows?

• Do we feel their pain? 

• Do we sympathize with them in their sufferings for Christ?  

• Are we tempted to stay away or shield ourselves from association with them?Let's remember that we are also in the body and can therefore be subject to similar afflictions. 

• Are we jealous of our brothers and sisters who are rejoicing?

• Serving God's people God's way demands that we learn to empathize with each other. God's way is for us to enter into the joys and sorrows of those in the household of faith.

 

L. Embracing one another as Christ did (Romans 15:7)

 The Lord Jesus is a great model for us in learning what it is to embrace one another in the family of God. While serving His Father's purpose here on earth, He made it clear that He was willing to embrace all who come to Him. 

• "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out"(John 6:37). 

• This verse presents two of the most important teachings of the Bible. First, it teaches that God has given certain ones to Jesus Christ and that all those whom He has given will be saved. Second, is the teaching of man's responsibility in coming to Jesus Christ. My intention here is not to discuss all the theological implications of this verse. What I want to point out here is that when a person comes to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, He promises never ever to turn that person away. 

• The Greek verb translated "cast out" is "ekballo." It also means drive out, expel, literally, throw out.  Jesus Christ does not expel the one who comes to Him, rather He embraces him. He does not drive away anyone who is genuinely seeking Him, rather He draws that person to Himself. Our Lord will never throw out a sincere seeker of God, He will take him in His tender and loving arms. 

• When the Lord Jesus and His disciples visited the district Tyre and Sidon, a Canaanite woman came out to meet them. She was genuinely seeking Christ and His help. Her need was a great and desperate one. So she kept crying out to Christ to have mercy on her and deliver her daughter who was cruelly demon-possessed. The disciples didn't like her shouting at all. They wanted Christ to send the woman away. They didn't feel her heartache and pain. All they wanted was a peaceful and quiet visit. They considered her a nuisance and wanted nothing to do with her. Since our Lord promised He would not expel anyone who is sincerely seeking Him, He did not do as His disciples implored Him to do. Rather, He embraced the woman and ministered to her. Our Lord even commended her, saying to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish" (Matthew 15:28). Throughout His life and ministry here on earth, our Lord demonstrated that He would not drive out anyone who is sincerely desiring Him. He did this to leave an example for God's people to follow.

 God did not only give us illustrations of what it means to embrace one another in our Lord's life, but He also commanded it in His Word. 

• "Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God" (Romans 15:7).

• The word translated "accept" is  from the Greek verb "proslambano." It means in this context, to welcome, to receive or accept in one's society, in (to) one's home or circle of acquaintances. It speaks of one Christian, receiving or embracing another. The believer has the responsibility of readily accepting, including, or taking up his brothers and sisters in Christ. The family of God is not a place for cliques. It is a place for embracing one another as did Christ our Lord. It is very sad to see that the church has become a successful breeding ground for cliques. Those people who are not part of the cliques are not embraced or readily welcome into the fold. Even those who are not believers quickly recognize there are small exclusive circles of people within the local church. There are even cliques in the various groups (singles, married couples, senior members, high and middle school groups etc.) of the local church. 

• The true basis for embracing one another in the local church is not spiritual maturity, social status or denominational affiliation. The true basis for accepting one another in the family of God is found in the expression, "just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God." We should receive those whom Christ has received in order to promote the glory of God.

• When Saul (later Paul) was saved, the Jerusalem church was slow in accepting him into their midst as the Resurrected Lord Himself did. It took God's gracious work through Barnabas to dispel their fears about whether or not Paul was really a disciple of Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:26-28). Once their fears were overcome, they readily and wholeheartedly embraced Paul as one of them. They accepted him into their Christian circle or community. Think of what would have happened to the progress of the church if Paul had not been embraced by the believers in Jerusalem. Paul would have had no material and spiritual support from the Jerusalem church. He would have had no partnership with the Jerusalem church. He would not have gone far in his ministry and calling. He needed the acceptance of the believers in Jerusalem. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit brought the Jerusalem incident to his mind as He inspired Paul to write this command to the church at Rome.

• Do you readily and wholeheartedly embrace other believers in your fellowship?

• Are you a member of a clique that does not include other believers because they are not at the same social status as you?

• Do you expel more than embrace fellow believers in your local church?

• Serving God's people God's way strictly demands that we embrace one another just as Christ Himself did. Christ accepted us for the glory of God. Through the Holy Spirit's help, we must also do the same thus promoting the glory of God.

 

M.  Eschewing the practice of paying back wrong for wrong (Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Thess. 5:15a; 1 Peter 3:8-9) 

• While serving His Father's purpose here on earth, the Lord Jesus did not pay back wrong for wrong. He committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth, yet He was reviled. But He chose not to revile in return. He held back from retaliating. He thus left an example for His disciples to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21-23). We must avoid following our natural inclination to strike back at those who wrong us.

• Although our Lord's example is enough to motivate God's people not to retaliate, yet God repeatedly gave specific commands to further stress the importance of this service among His people.

• "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone... Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:17-21).

• "See that no one repays another with evil for evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:15a).

• "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing" (1 Peter 3:8-9).

• From these repeated commands, it is very clear that God forbids any thought of retaliation among His people. Our natural reaction is to strike back, to return tit for tat. But the believer should be so in fellowship with the Lord Jesus and so filled with the Holy Spirit that he will respond in a supernatural way. In other words, he will instinctively show kindness and love to other believers and to the unbeliever as well instead of repaying them with evil for evil. 

• Repaying evil for evil is common practice in the world. People speak of giving tit for tat, of repaying in kind, or of giving someone what he really deserves. But this delight in vengeance should have no place in the lives of God's redeemed and saved people. Believers must resist the tendency to avenge wrongs done to them. Rather, in the strength of the Spirit, we should act honorably, overcoming evil with good. We should not stop at the negative prohibition of not returning evil for evil, but go on to the positive exhortation of overcoming evil with good.

• In Islam, revenge or retaliation is a virtue. This is exactly what motivates the suicide bombers. Before they detonate their bombs to kill and maim innocent victims, some suicide bombers even make videos of themselves. The one message that is repeatedly heard in all these videos is, "We are avenging our muslim brothers and sisters for what the western countries have done against muslims." Theirs is a deliberate and determined revengeful mission. They are killing and maiming innocent people in the name of revenge. This, they think is service to God. Those who carry these revengeful suicide missions are not only deceived, they immediately face eternal damnation. They were not serving the true and living God after all. If they could return to life, they would not only recant Islam as a false religion, but oppose with their very lives the revengeful suicide missions. 

• Serving God's people God's way calls for all God's people to eschew the practice of returning evil for evil in the family of God. In the strength of the Spirit, they should go a step further, overcoming evil with good. This same service extends to unbelievers as well.

 

N.  Enriching each other's life by seeking after that which is good for one another (1 Thess. 5:15b) 

• When the Lord Jesus came to earth, He purposely came to seek that which is good for us. In other words, He came to enrich our lives. The Bible says of Him:

• "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). 

• He Himself declared in the Holy Spirit: 

• "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

•  Our Lord's purpose in serving was to bring enrichment into our lives. We needed to be freed from our enslavement to self, sin and Satan. We could not free ourselves. Jesus freed us thus giving a richer and better quality of life. 

• Again the Bible presents our Lord's work of seeking to enrich the lives of the people He came to save in these powerful words:

• "Although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, And being made in the likeness of men. Being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8). 

• Through our Lord's death on a cross, He brought God's salvation to us and thus greatly enriched our lives.

• Through the Holy Spirit, Paul and his fellow-workers enriched the lives of other believers. "As poor yet making many rich" (2 Corinthians 6:10). Paul and his fellow-workers were poor men as far as this world's goods are concerned. We do not read of their having property and wealth. Yet think of the many lives that have been spiritually enriched through their ministry. Although I am not rich as the world defines richness, yet through the Holy Spirit, I have given my life to the cause of enriching the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging them to go to the next level with God.

• Enriching the lives of others in the family of God is not only illustrated in the lives of the Lord Jesus and His early disciples, it is also commanded in the Scriptures. 

• "Always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people" (1 Thessalonians 5:15b). 

• The Greek word translated "seek" in the NASB is from the verb "dioko." It is used here in the figuratively sense, meaning pursue, strive for, seek after, aspire to something. The verb is a present imperative. This means that the action commanded is to be carried out continually. God is not calling us to seek a one time service of enriching one another's life and laying back. He calls us to a continual striving to enrich the lives of our brothers in Christ by seeking what is good for one another. We are to constantly aspire to the honorable service of making the lives of those in the family of God rich and richer.

• Serving God's people God's way requires constant pursuit of enriching the lives of God's people in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

• Is there anyone in your local church that your life has enriched?

• Are you actively seeking to enrich the lives of other believers in your fellowship?

• Do you have a passion for making the lives of fellow Christians spiritually richer in Christ?

• Would you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you as one whose life continually enriches the lives of God's people?

 

O.  Expending ourselves in prayer for one another (Eph. 6:18-20; James 5:14-16)

• The Lord Jesus is again a perfect example for God's people in the service of praying for one another. Prayer was a priority in His service here on earth. He expended Himself in prayer for others. He often slipped away from the pressing crowd to the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:16). Before choosing His twelve apostles He spent a whole night in prayer to God on the mountain (Luke 6:12). Before going to the cross, He prayed for His disciples and those who would believe in their word (John 17). Specifically, He asked the Father in that prayer, to keep us in His name, to sanctify us in the truth, and that we may all be one. 

• When Satan demanded permission to sift Peter, the Lord Jesus said to Peter in the hearing of the rest of the disciples: 

• "But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). 

• He labored in prayer in Gethsemane such that His sweat became like blood, falling upon the ground (Luke 22:44). Even while hanging on the cross at the hour of His death, He spent His last breath in prayer for others, asking the Father to forgive those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). Even after ascending into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God, our Lord is still praying for those whodraw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

• Believers in the early church expended themselves in prayer for each other. When Peter was put in jail at Jerusalem, the whole church gathered to pour out their heart to God in prayer on his behalf. 

• The Bible says:

• "Peter was kept in prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God" (Acts 12:5). 

• Apostle Paul also spent a great deal of his energy and time in praying for believers. He prayed for the Christians in churches at Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Thessalonica ( Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-20; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:3-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:10).

• Epaphras, a first century believer in the church of Colossae expended himself in prayer for other believers in the church. This is how the Bible describes his service of prayer for those in the family of God. 

• "Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God"(Colossians 4:12). 

• Epaphras literally agonized in prayer for his brothers and sisters in prayer. He wanted God's best for them. He also knew that true prayer lifted up to the true and living God would be rewarded. Thus the constant pouring out of himself in prayer for believers in his home church.

• Earnest labor of prayer on behalf of our believing brothers and sisters is much needed today. This service of fervent and earnest prayer for believers is a sweet aroma to God.

 • The late Leonard Ravenhill, one of England's foremost outdoor evangelists wrote about our failure in prayer, in his book, "Why Revival Tarries."

• "Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and pay-ers, few pray-ers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere."

• Commands to pray for one another abound in Scripture. This is because God knows how important this service is. He does not want us to neglect or ignore this act of ministry among His people. 

• "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel" (Ephesians 6:18-19)

• "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ..." (Colossians 4:2-3).

• "Brethren, pray for us!" (1 Thessalonians 5:25). 

• "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another... The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (James 5:16).

• Ministering to God's people God's way requires that we rely on the Holy Spirit to constantly, fervently, earnestly and diligently offer up prayers on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Nothing reflects the character of Christ like expending ourselves in prayer for fellow believers. The believers at Ephesus were commanded to pray for all believers. To find out more about how to pray effectively for God's people, please click here.

• How often do you rely on the Holy Spirit to pray for other believers?

• Is praying for other believers a consistent part of your prayer life?

 

P.  Exemplary Service and Sacrifice (Acts 4:32-37; 2 Cor. 8:1-5)

• The Lord Jesus Himself is the supreme example of service and sacrifice. He did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). He sacrificed His very life, His best for us. No service was too high for Him. Knowing very well that He was God and had come from God and was going back to God, our Lord stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples (John 13:1-11), a task which a slave normally performs. He even served His disciples breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection (John 21:9-14).

• The early church followed in our Lord's footsteps of service and sacrifice. The Jerusalem church in particular, shared their hearts, their homes, and their wealth with others in the church to the point that it was said: "there was not a needy person among them" (Acts 4:32-37).

• Service and sacrifice did not end with the Jerusalem church. It overflowed into others churches, notably the churches of Macedonia. Their spirit of service and sacrifice was indeed a great blessing to Apostle Paul and his fellow-workers. Not only that, it became an example to other churches, such as the church of Corinth. The Holy Spirit used the spirit of service and sacrifice of the Macedonian churches to instruct the believers at Corinth then, and us today. 

• "Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God" (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). 

• Macedonia is northern Greece. Philippi and Thessalonica were two of the cities where churches had been established. The Christians in these churches had been going through a great trial of affliction. They were poor. They were the "have-nots." They were not prosperous. Therefore one would expect that these poor believers would seek to save the little money they had to provide for their future. Yet these believers demonstrated a true spirit of service and sacrifice. Their Christian joy was so overflowing that when the needs of the believers in Jerusalem was presented to them, they reversed all ordinary behavior and gave in a most liberal manner. They gave beyond their ability. They literally begged Paul and his team for the privilege of sharing in the relief of the Jerusalem saints. They were so earnest in this that they did not take "no" for an answer. The secret behind their spirit of service and sacrifice is that "they first gave themselves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God."Giving themselves first to God made it easy for them for them to share their material possessions. This is the principle underlying true service and sacrifice that honors God. That was how the Lord Jesus served and sacrificed. He first and foremost gave Himself completely to His Father and to His will. And that is how He expects us to serve and sacrifice.

• The Holy Spirit spoke well of the household of Stephanas which was part of the first century church at Corinth. He revealed that they were the first fruits of Achaia. But more importantly, the Spirit brought to light their dedicated service to the believers in Corinth. Through the Holy Spirit, Apostle Paul wrote, describing their spirit of service and sacrifice in these words: "they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints" (1 Corinthians 16:15). The household of Stephanas knew how important ministering to the people of God was. As a result, they wholeheartedly gave themselves to it and were therefore commended by the Holy Spirit.

• The early church demonstrated the spirit of service and sacrifice in their hospitality. Their homes were opened for the traveling servants of God to lodge. Peter and Paul and his fellow-workers traveled a lot with the message of the Good News. God provided for their temporary accommodation again and again, because the believers in the cities they visited were willing to take them in. In Joppa, Peter was received by Simon the tanner (Acts 9:43; 10:5-6). At Philippi, Lydia, a new convert opened her home for Paul and his team to stay (Acts 15:14-15). At Corinth, Paul stayed with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1-3). At Caesarea, Paul and his traveling team lodged with Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple of long standing (Acts 21:16). Whether new believers or old, they demonstrated the spirit of exemplary service and sacrifice.

• Their spirit of exemplary service and sacrifice is in keeping with the following biblical commands and instructions. 

• "In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds" (Titus 2:7). 

• "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These are good and profitable for men. Our people must learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful"(Titus 3:8, 14). 

• God wants His people to be an example of what true service and sacrifice is all about. 

• There are pressing needs in every local church. But the question is, are we going to demonstrate the spirit of service and sacrifice to meet those pressing needs in the family of God? 

• Hurricane Katrina presents God's people with a wonderful opportunity and a formidable challenge. There are urgent and pressing needs such as housing, food, clothing, water, jobs, Bibles etc. for the hundreds of thousands of people who are affected by this major destruction of biblical proportion. This is the time for God's people to demonstrate the spirit of exemplary service and sacrifice by opening their hearts, their homes to their displaced brothers and sisters in Christ. We should be willing and eager to share our wealth with them to meet their pressing needs and help them get back on their feet. We should do this joyfully, cheerfully, and willingly, counting it a great privilege to share in the relief of those in the family of God. We should sacrifice our time and talent as well.

• Serving God's people God's way demands that each believer demonstrates a spirit of service and sacrifice to meet the needs of those in the family of God. 

• Are you blessing others in your local church through your spirit of service and sacrifice?

• Are you setting an example to those around you about what the true spirit of service and sacrifice is all about?

• Are you willing to sacrifice your time, talent and treasure to serve others in the family of God?

• Are you devoting yourself to the service of the saints, that is, the people of God? Stephanas and his household devoted themselves to the service of the saints at Corinth. Their ministering to the believers at Corinth was noticed and commended by the Holy Spirit. So it shall be for all who devote themselves for service to the saints.

 

Conclusion

• We live in a "me first" generation. It is a generation full of self-seekers and self-centered people. With the "me first" attitude pervading our society, it is hard for people to genuinely seek after the interests and welfare of others. God has shown in His Word that His people are to live differently. He gave them His Beloved Son as an example. Although God's One and Only Son was God in human flesh, He humbled Himself to serve others. He came to serve, not to be served. He sought the best for others. He enriched the lives of others. He served and sacrificed Himself for others. His life of service and sacrifice is given to God's people as a model to follow. In addition to the model of Christ, God Himself commanded His people to serve one another. These commands clearly tell us that God wants His people to serve each other His way, not their way. 

• They are to serve one another, doing so with the strength God Himself supplies through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Their service, in the supernatural strength God Himself supplies includes excelling in loving each other, equipping, educating, encouraging, edifying, enriching, exhorting, embracing one another, empathizing with each other, expressing appreciation for each other in Christ and exercising Christian discipline in the believing community. Ministering in the power of the Spirit, they are to serve each other by extending forgiveness to one another and expending themselves in prayer for one another. They are to demonstrate the true spirit of service and sacrifice exemplified in the life of their Lord and Savior. In short, they are to serve God's people God's way with God's strength for God's glory and for their growth in Christ.

• For the church to be built up, God's people must rely on the Holy Spirit to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. They must not forget that they are servants. If our testimony as the people of God is to make an indelible mark in our generation, then, we must rediscover the powerful concept of serving one another in the household of God. We must not only commit ourselves to its principles, but also to its practice.

• My prayer for you as a believer in Jesus Christ is that God will deepen your relationship with Him and equip you through these simple yet significant truths about serving God's people God's way for God's glory and for the good and growth of God's church.