Ministering With & Ministering To

1 Thess. 5:12, “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.” There are those to whom we minister and also those with whom we find ourselves ministering. Regardless of the capacity, we remember that service in the Body is not a pyramid scheme wherein those who know the most and sound the most Christian are at the top, while all others strive to reach the top (there is only air at the top!). Rather, we minister horizontally with the full knowledge that we have nothing that every believer does not already possess. However, in this horizontal relationship there are those to whom we are called to minister, and it is always our desire that at some point in time we will labor with these very same brothers and sisters in ministry to others. We can tell who we minister to by their attitudes. If they are judgmental, argumentative, failing, overtly or covertly cutting us to pieces, pitting themselves or harboring resentments against us, we know that these are the ones we need to minister to. We never use their behavior as an excuse for having nothing to do with them (Matt. 5:46, For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?). Rather, we simply recognize that we cannot yet minister with them. We are not upset at the carnality of others, for we remember our own. A long-time acquaintance and I were watching a young man minister in what was obviously a great exercise in the flesh, since we noticed more of him than of Jesus. My friend turned to me and whispered, “You know what really bothers me about that fellow? He reminds me of us when we were his age.” How true. We become so distressed when we discover that someone we thought was a co-worker is slandering us, when instead we could simply recognize that this person is not one that we are ministering with, but to. I have noticed that the only thing that can suspend a civil war is a common enemy to unite the previously warring factions. Often those who walk in the flesh pick a common enemy and draw up a truce for their own fighting. Any of us might be picked as that common enemy, but again, this only reveals who we are to minister to.

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