|The Ministry of Love
Ministry. What exactly is it? How can we discover whatand whereour own special place of service is? Several years ago the Lord began impressing on me that, as He guides us through life, we may assuredly know that our place of ministry is within the confines of whatever circumstances He has placed us in.
This knowledge has strengthened and encouraged me so many times! If we are consistently seeking God with our whole heart, He will lead us to the places, circumstances, and opportunities where He desires us to do a work for Him. Our responsibility is to keep alert for these openings. No one else may even recognize them as ministry, but nevertheless God sees them as such, and that’s all that matters!
Ministry means “to serve,” and Christ, our great Example, taught us that we cannot separate our lives into “ministry” and “non-ministry” categorieswe are to be servants continually, in all areas of our daily lives, wherever God has placed us. This is a grand and thrilling outlook when we begin to do everything as unto the Lord, drawing from the deep, deep love of Christ, and letting it pour through us to all we meet. We must “learn to commend the daily acts to God, so shall the dry every-day duties of common life be steps to heaven, and lift [our] heart[s] thither.” 1
Occasionally I turn to a quote from Amy Carmichael’s book, If, to help me keep the proper perspective:
If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider “not a spiritual work” I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
True ministry is doing whatever our hand finds to do, and doing it with all our might2regardless of how drab and uninteresting it may be. The foremost question in the mind of a true minister is, “How can I best help others?” not, “How can I find the most interesting and exciting way to help others?
Ministry is, metaphorically, coming to our knees to wash dirty, dusty feet. It must be done in humility and selflessness. If we are seeking praise and recognition for our deeds, we have missed the pointand the blessing!
Ministry is something that crucifies self, making us truly dead to our desire for approval and notice. It overflows from the love of God within us, and self is drowned in that glorious river.
Ministry is washing the sheets after your baby sister has an upset stomach; it’s picking up dirty socks that your husband leaves wherever he happens to remove them; it’s listening with focused attention to an older person repeat a story for the hundreth time; in short, it’s shutting out self and centering on others.
True ministry, true servanthood, is the result of loosing oneself in God. Human striving, selfish motives, and prideful actions cannot fall into the category of ministry. It is so easy to try in our own strength to “do a work for God,” but this results in a feeling of satisfaction and pride when things go well, or in despair when we see the destruction of all our efforts.
Other times we may honestly seek to minister as unto the Lord, yet still find defeat and failure. I’ve experienced this so many times myself. I am sure others have, too. Where have we gone wrong? Is it not true that it all boils down to loveor the lack of it?
Ministry to others can only come from the Source of Love in our lives, the blessed Holy Spirit.3 Close communion with God brings forth the precious fruit of love. When we seek to serve simply for the sake of serving, we are totally missing the point. Ministry wells up from a heart that beats in tune with God’s heart, truly caring for those we seek to serve. This heart is formed by daily feasting on God’s Word, speaking with Him in prayer, and living near the Source of Love, so that we may bear the fruit of love.
Ministry becomes a hindrance rather than a help when we seek it apart from the motivation of love. To try and “minister” to someone without having true interest in and care for them will quickly be detected and resented. We lose all blessing for our efforts if we have a prideful, selfish attitude that says, “This person is my ministry.” No one wants to feel that they are our “ministry”would we care to find ourselves in that category?!
Rather, when one feels the depth of our love for thema love that flows naturally from our hearts due to true interest in, care for, and concern about that personthen ministry will have been accomplished. No wonder Paul wrote that all gifts, however excellent, are nothing without love. Standing apart from love, our deeds are “as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”4they are utterly useless, annoying, and jarring!
I know that I fail often in this myself. I am still learning, and have such a long way to go. Yet past failures shouldn’t bog us down in despair. God has a work for each of us to do. As we seek to truly minister for the Lord, let’s gaze deeply into the love of Christ, asking Him to pour that love through us as we meet both the humble and exciting events of each day.
I’ll close with this dialogue:
“Beloved, let us love.”
“Lord, what is love?”
“Love is that which inspired My life, and led Me to My cross, and help Me on My cross. Love is that which will make it thy joy to lay down thy life for thy brethren.”
“Lord, evermore give me this love.”
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst...for they shall be filled.”
“Amen, Lord Jesus.”5
1Edward B. Pusey, 2Ecc. 9:10, 3Gal. 5:22, 41 Cor. 13:1, 5Amy Carmichael