Sitting in our Sunday school class, I listened as my husband Jim continued his series on the “one anothers” in the New Testament. He was teaching about the ministries each of us Christians is to have to “one another” in Christ’s church. This particular Sunday Jim spoke on edifying one another — encouraging them, building them up, contributing positively to their lives, and benefiting them in some way.
Summarizing the lesson with a point of application, Jim challenged our class. He exhorted, “With every encounter, make it your aim that people are better off for having been in your presence. Try in every encounter to give something to the other person.” I have never forgotten these words. What a great — and simple — way to positively influence the lives of other people. Everyone needs edification and encouragement, and we are free to offer that when we have hearts filled by God
But, sometimes we can feel immobilized in our service toward God by and over-emphasis on “spiritual gifts” or a fear of not being the right person for the job. You might think, “If I am not a natural encourager, maybe I should serve on the parking team instead.” Or, “I’m not wealthy. How can my contributions make a difference?” We are all uniquely in our giftedness and the hurdles toward serving God and others. But, I found it a relief to learn that are three ministries that you and I — and all Christians — can have.
When I read Balancing the Christian Life by theologian Charles Caldwell Ryrie, I discovered three ways of serving others in the faith that are not only listed as specific spiritual gifts, but they are commanded of all Christians. They are serving, giving, and showing mercy (Romans 12:7-8). Hear how Dr. Ryries defines them:
Serving is sometimes called help or ministering. “It is the basic ability to help other people, and there is no reason why every Christian cannot have and use this gift.”
Giving is another ministry you and I could — and should — be involved in. “Giving is the ability to distribute one’s own money to others, and it is to be done with simplicity which means with no thought of return or gain for oneself in any way.”
Mercy is next. “Showing mercy is akin to the gift of ministering and involves succoring those who are sick or afflicted. ‘Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction’ (James 1:27).”
Serving, mercy, and giving — each is a specific spiritual gift, but each is also commanded of us as Christians. And each was carried out and modeled for us by our dear Savior, in whose steps we are to follow. So commit now to kindle your efforts to serve, show mercy, and give — and thus fulfill the law of God and encourage His people.
Question: Are people better off or worse for having been in your presence? Ask the Lord to prompt this question in your heart at you wake-up or head out the door each day.
Find more encouragement for your soul in my book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.