What would you say if I told you there was competition among some pastors? I hope you wouldnâ€™t be surprised because pastors are human too after all. The petty jealousies and rivalries are just as capable of entering the field of ministry as it is in any vocation. It is just less tolerated by the public. And the bellyachings and bickerings that go on dishonor God and His Son Jesus.
The 1st Century Church faced some of this in that initially Paulâ€™s ministry to the Gentiles was not well received by many Jewish believers. Even many of the early church leaders were not pleased with Paul preaching to the Gentiles. He writes to the Galatian Church about defending his ministry:
â€œBut from those who seemed to be somethingâ€”whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no manâ€”for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.â€ (Galatians 2:6-10)
How was it that Peter, James, and John were able to perceive the grace that had been given to Paul? They had their spiritual radar on and were open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Now of course Peter already knew better, but Peter being Peter was somewhat intimidated by peer pressure. Remember it was Peter who had received the same revelation about preaching to the Gentiles:
â€œThen Peter opened his mouth and said: â€˜In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.â€™â€ (Acts 10:34-35)
Paul could have experienced great frustration with these church leaders but his commitment to stewardship of the gospel allowed him to stand fast and eventually receive encouragement from these leaders. Paul and Barnabas received â€œthe right of fellowshipâ€ and their ministry to the Gentiles was blessed by these church leaders.
We as believers and church members should not only be encouraging our pastoral staff, but we should also be encouraging our volunteers who freely give of their time to the stewardship of the gospel. If they perceive that they are not appreciated and/or are being taken for granted, they may become discouraged and find something better to do with their time. King Solomon points out:
â€œAnxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.â€ (Proverbs 12:25)
A good word goes a long way in encouraging the Body of Christ to be good stewards of the gospel. And encouragement and enthusiasm are vital in accomplishing the Great Commission our King Jesus has given us.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright Â© 2012 David Jeffers