January 31, 2011

People Are Our Ministry

January 31, 2011
Nobody ever comes to a church with a sign around their neck saying, “Will you love me? I have been through a failed marriage” or “Will you care for me? I have just experienced a devastating loss” or “Will you accept me? I don’t know the Lord.” We are the Body of Christ and people are our ministry. We are called to reach out to the hurting, discern their need and minister to them where they are, because according to Galatians 6:1-5, the church is for hurting people.

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load (Galatians 6:1-5).
There are people in the church broken because of sin

Paul begins Galatians chapter six with this statement: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness...” (v. 1). Sin is destructive and its damaging results often leave people powerless to handle the ordinary demands of life. Paul stated that regardless of the trespass, those who are spiritual are to be involved in restoring an overtaken brother or sister. This means that the church is to be a place where we are each involved in helping those broken and battered by sin experience spiritual restoration. If we are to do this effectively we must accept the spiritual responsibilities with which we are charged.



Be spiritually alive. Paul assigned the responsibility to restore those overtaken in sin to those who are spiritual. The prerequisite to helping others in spiritual matters is to be spiritually alive. The term spiritual describes a believer who is walking in the Spirit according to Galatians chapter 5. A spiritual believer is not someone who merely knows spiritual information, but rather is someone filled or controlled by the Spirit of God (Eph 4:18). Spiritually alive people reflect “a spirit of gentleness” which is that fruit of the Spirit enabling compassionate firmness that deals with others without taking offense. To be involved in a ministry of restoration you must be spiritually alive.


Be spiritually aware. Someone who is spiritually aware is someone who is spiritually sensitive to those hurting due to sin. Often those in sin become very skilled at masking their wounded hearts by pulling away or forcing a smile. To help you discern who may need a ministry of restoration, ask God to make you spiritually aware.


In 1985, a celebration at a public swimming pool was held in New Orleans to mark the first summer in memory when no one drowned at a public pool. Two hundred people, including one hundred certified lifeguards, gathered at the city’s largest pool. However, as the celebration was breaking up, a thirty-one year old man was found dead at the bottom of the deep end of the pool. He had drowned surrounded by friends trained as lifeguards, but no one had noticed the man drowning. How many people are drowning in sin and destruction around us while no one notices? To be involved in a ministry of restoration you must be aware of the spiritual needs of those around you.


Be spiritually alert. In seeking to restore others who are burdened by sin it is necessary to consider yourself so that you won’t be tempted. Because of the ugly sin of pride, the temptation to exalt your self with a superior judgmental attitude, will derail any attempt at restoration. You must guard against justifying the “respectable sins” in your life while dealing with the “big” sins in the lives of others. Jesus warned that it is necessary to remove what is in our eye first so we can see clearly to then help remove what is in our brother’s eye (Matt 7:5). Sin is sin, period. Consider yourself and the issues of your own heart before you seek to deal with the issues of someone else’s heart. To be involved in a ministry of restoration you must be spiritually alert.


There are people in the church burdened because of sorrows


We are not only to be involved in restoring those who are broken by sin, but we are to care for those who are hurting. Caring for people who are burdened is one of our primary responsibilities. Paul states we are to “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2). The work of dealing with people’s burdens is described in three ways.


Carrying the load of burdened people is hard work. The word burden describes an extra heavy load which must be carried with endurance. This is hard work and will require our participation and prayer. The wonderful reality of being part of God’s family is that we are not in this alone. Having someone share in the load is a great encouragement and prayer is one of the ways we can share in carrying the load of others. As we come alongside someone with a burden we demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way and help our brother or sister cast their load upon the Lord who cares for them (1 Pet 5:7). Although it is hard work carrying other’s burdens is encouraging work.


Carrying the load of burdened people is humble work. Sharing in the load of another is a work that is to be done cheerfully without complaining. Paul states, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (v. 3). Do you complain within your heart when helping others because of the time, effort and energy it demands? When we view ourselves as Christ’s servants, we will not think too highly of ourselves to get involved. Often the interruptions in ministry are the ministry. Don’t be deceived into thinking that you are above rolling up your sleeves and ministering to the needs of others. Consider Jesus’ example of humbling Himself and washing dirty feet (John 13:3-5).


Carrying the load of burdened people is honoring work. Paul concludes verse five with these powerful words, “For each one shall bear his own load.” The load in this verse refers to each believer’s God-given responsibility to share in the burdens of others. In other words, your load is to help carry other’s burdens! As we minister to hurting people we fulfill our God given responsibility and honor God by our obedience. As we grow in Christ our load increases, because our capacity to care for others spiritually, also increases. Pray that God would allow you to see people where they are, that He would increase your love for people where they are, and that He would use you to minister to people in their need.


The church is to be a place where those who are broken because of sin and those who are burdened because of sorrows can find restoration, encouragement, hope, and direction. Are you prepared to help carry someone else’s burden?