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Humble Honest Ministry

2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. (NIVUK)

It is very sad when you see religion operating as a business, making money and promoting power. Alas, it is not uncommon. The bustling ancient city of Corinth, like many international commercial hubs, looked for heroes to follow – role models of success. When popularist false teachers infiltrated the church after Paul left, their personalities and preaching style disparaged Paul and the gospel, as they eagerly received money, fame and power.

Paul did not need such worldly props. He did not seek riches, patronage or human praise (1 Corinthians 9:18). He simply rejoiced in God's mercy over his sin, and in the privilege of Christ's personal commission to preach the only true gospel. He was not propelled by what he could get from people, but by what he could give to people through God's grace (John 4:34). Paul pushed away any idea of joining the monied circus of philosophy and religious ideas. He knew it was wrong to manipulate people or to present God in ways He would never own.

So, unlike the 'super apostles' who denigrated Paul and his teaching (2 Corinthians 12:11), the apostle's objective was simple. He did not want to deceive anybody, but to help people uncover the truth about Jesus, even if that cost him everything. His method was to explain God's purpose of salvation, the person and work of Jesus Christ, God's command to repent and invitation to become a child of God through faith in Jesus. And so, the church grew despite severe opposition, but the Lord sustained Paul (Acts 18:9-11); even though he was not eloquent, his words were impelled into people's hearts by the Holy Spirit because they were the powerful words of gospel truth (2 Corinthians 11:4-6).

It is easy for God's servants to be side-tracked, tempted to satisfy themselves rather than their people (Ezekiel 34:1-3). Even the apostle knew his own weaknesses (Romans 7:15-25): but the gospel he proclaimed was not tarnished by self-interest. It is a continual challenge to every believer to minister honestly. Although we must encourage others to repent, we also need to repent of every dishonesty into which we fall and learn to continue humbly serving the One who is always light and never darkness. The key is to keep coming back to God's Word. We do not have to make up any idea to attract people. The truth of Jesus is attractive to people who are searching for truth and who want to be forgiven (James 1:16-18). Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and let the Holy Spirit anchor the truth into the hearts of your friends and colleagues (1 Peter 4:11).

God of truth. Thank You for the sacrificial example of the apostles most of whom gave their lives so that the world might hear the true gospel of salvation. Forgive me when I fall into the temptation of modifying the truth to gain personal benefit from serving Christ. Please help me learn to share the truth about Jesus honestly, and learn to live humbly in repentance and faith. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams