Motives For Ministry! Acts 3a
Stephen Caswell © 2001
Motivation For Ministry
The moderator of a Presbyterian Church in Melbourne once gave J. Hudson Taylor a flattering introduction. When the founder of the China Inland Mission stepped into the pulpit, he quietly said, dear friends, I am the little servant of an Illustrious Master.
Two weeks ago we saw how God has saved us that we might become His ministers. Firstly, we saw Christ's assessment for ministry. The Lord is looking for people who are faithful, available and teachable. Secondly, we saw Christ's appointment to ministry. When Christ finds people who are faithful, available and teachable, He appoints them to ministry. This involves training them, empowering them and sending them out into His service. Today I want to continue this theme of ministry.
Christian ministry is the responsibility of every believer. But what is the difference between Evangelism, Discipleship and Ministry? Evangelism is only the first step in making a disciple. Discipleship is the process of becoming like Jesus Christ. We follow Jesus and learn to live the way that He did. Ministry is the part that we play in God's service. It involves much more than evangelism. God wants us to use our gifts and talents to minister to others. Ministry is anything that we do in serving the Lord. Ministry is serving people in Christ's name. We will look at the way the apostles ministered. Today, I want to look at the right motives for ministry.
Warren Weirsbe said this about ministry. Ministry takes place when Divine Resources meet Human Needs, through Loving Channels to the Glory Of God. In Acts chapter three we will see all four of these vital ingredients powerfully demonstrated.
Firstly Human Needs
Acts 3:1-3 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
The first thing that we notice is that Peter was already serving the Lord when he ministered to this lame man. He was going to the temple to pray and no doubt share Christ when this encounter took place. Peter wasn't sitting around waiting for God to light up the sky and direct him to meet some need. The Lord provided this opportunity to minister as Peter was going to a prayer meeting.
a. Physical Needs
Firstly, this man had physical needs. He was lame. He relied completely on the help of others. This poor man had to be carried from place to place. He wouldn't have been able to do much for himself. He needed a great deal of care and attention. Because he was lame he couldn't earn a living by working. This would have been very humiliating for him. But he had known no other life from the day of his birth.
b. Financial Needs
Secondly, he had financial needs. Since he couldn't work he had to beg for money. This was the only way that he could obtain money to buy food and clothes. He relied completely on the generosity of others. He would have lived in poverty. This too would have been degrading. This was the situation Peter found him in. The lame man asked Peter and John for financial help as they went into the temple.
c. Spiritual Needs
Last, but not at all least, this man had spiritual needs. Like all of us he needed God's forgiveness for his sins. He was spiritually dead. He needed to come into a right relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
God knew this man's needs and wanted to meet them but He needed a willing servant to do so. God knows the needs of all men and longs to meet them. If we will look around us the needs are great. People have physical needs, financial needs, emotional needs and spiritual needs. How can we make a difference when the needs are so great? The first thing we need to do is become intimately aware of them. Do you really care about the people around you who have needs? Are you willing to do something about them? We can't meet every need, but we can help some. We must also realize we can't meet these needs ourselves. We need help.
Secondly Divine Resources
Acts 3:4-7 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, Look at us. So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
a. They're Not Physical
Peter had no money to share with this needy man. Human resources will always fail us. This lame man was looking for money to live on. Yet Peter had no silver or gold. How could Peter help him? What could Peter give this needy man? Why was he wasting his time on one lame man when he had nothing to give him? But Peter knew that divine resources aren't governed by material possessions. His resources were adequate because they came from God.
b. They're Spiritual
Peter shared Christ with Him. He healed him in Jesus name. This was the best thing that he could do because Christ was able to meet all of his needs. Peter experienced God's grace first hand and knew Jesus was what the lame man needed most. God's grace is what all men need. It is sufficient for all of our needs. Every believer has received God's grace in Christ. We are channels of God's resources, not reservoirs. John 1:16-17 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Peter didn't ignore the lame man's physical needs. On the contrary he used his disability as an opportunity to minister to his spiritual needs. Peter healed the man in Christ's name. We must never ignore people's physical needs. We should seek to minister to the whole person. This involves spiritual and physical needs. Because the man was healed he no longer needed to beg. Now he could earn his own money. But only divine resources are sufficient to do this. Only God's grace is able to get to the heart of the matter; to meet the deepest need, our sins.
Feeding the Five Thousand
Only God's grace can meet our deepest needs. The disciples learnt this lesson the hard way. When Jesus asked them to feed the five thousand their solution was to send the crowd home. The task was too big they complained. Often we send away the very people that God wants us to minister to. We say its too hard to help these people. The disciples learned something wonderful at the lake. They were only distributors of God's grace. God had all the resources that they needed. God works the miracles, we can only be the channels of His grace.
You might think the same thing today. The problems are to big. I don't have the finances to make much of a difference. I have no training in counseling. What can I do? What did Peter do? He shared Jesus Christ. He ministered to the man's physical and spiritual needs. We too must share Christ with the lost. We must meet their physical and spiritual needs. We can only do this if we know Christ personally. We can draw on divine resources.
Thirdly Loving Channels
Acts 3:4-5 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, Look at us. So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
a. He Stopped, Looked And Listened
Peter cared enough to stop, look and listen. He looked at the lame man and had compassion on him. Peter didn't know this man. He wasn't obligated to help him in anyway. Why did Peter help this man? Shouldn't he concentrate on meeting the needs that he could? Shouldn't he stick to preaching the Gospel? After all Peter had just lead 3,000 people to Christ. Shouldn't he stick to ministering to the crowds as an evangelist? Yet Peter showed his love for this man by stopping and listening to his needs. Why? Because God had filled his heart with love. Peter put his own plans on hold so that he could minister to an individual. He paid attention to meet this man's needs.
God gives us the love we need to minister to others. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. We need only to draw on His resources when we minister. God is looking for loving channels He can work through. The funny thing is that the channel receives more blessing than the recipient. Serving God isn't punishment it's nourishment. Jesus said, My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work. Paul said this to the Philippians. Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
The unhappiest Christians are the selfish ones. They only think of themselves. They never help another person or if they do it's calculated. They keep a record and expect to be paid back or praised for it. Once they have done a certain amount they won't do anymore, because they've done their bit. They don't share what God has given them. They keep their possessions and their homes for themselves only. But God needs loving channels in His service. Why should we lovingly serve others, even sinners when they don't deserve it? Because God treated us that way and we didn't deserve it either.
b. He Shared What He Had
Acts 3:6-7 Then Peter said, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.
Peter shared Jesus Christ with Him. Peter had personally experienced the joy of knowing Christ and now he shared it with the lame man. God doesn't expect you to share what you don't have. But He does expect you to share what you do have. This involves sharing our Christian faith and our possessions. We mustn't separate people's physical and spiritual needs. Why should people receive Jesus Christ as Savior when we ignore their physical needs? Both needs must be met. Peter was careful to meet both needs.
James 2:15-17 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
You might think that Christians don't do this. Yet when we were moving house Sandy had some folk tell her not to over do it because she was pregnant. But they didn't offer to help us. Others cared and helped us to move. The faith of the one who said be careful was dead. Whilst the faith of the ones who helped us to move was alive. If we have believed in Christ our faith must produce good works. God's love motivates this. The early Church didn't rely on miracles only. Barnabas sold land and gave the money to the poor. They used their homes for meals, hospitality, and Christian fellowship. Others made rugs and coats for the elderly. Their ministry was very practical. They saw needs and met them.
The Good Samaritan
Jesus taught the people how God's love should motivate us to minister to those in need. In the story of the Good Samaritan we find three people all given the same opportunity to minister. The priest and the Levite walked past the man beaten by robbers. They saw his need and passed by on the other side of the road. They showed no mercy or compassion. But the Good Samaritan showed compassion for him by ministering to his needs. He gave his time, and money to minister to him. He was a loving channel through which flowed the grace of God.
So many people are neglected today because we don't care or don't have the time to help. God is looking for loving channels to minister to the lost. Will you be a loving channel that the Lord can work through? Will you willingly give your time and possessions to help those in need? Or will you respond to them like the priest and Levite did to the needy man?
Fourthly The Glory Of God
Acts 3:8-9 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
It is only when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels that God can be glorified and true ministry take place. Only divine resources can meet man's deepest need. Only loving channels can effectively convey God's grace to those in need. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
a. The Beggar
The lame man praised God for healing him. This was because Peter had pointed Him to Christ. He encouraged Him to glorify God. He had heard Peter's words very clearly. Peter healed him in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This man was understandably excited. For forty years he had been lame and now he could walk. He walked and leaped and praised God. This man was a living testimony of the power of Christ. What's more all the people saw him walking and praising God. A changed life is a powerful testimony for Christ.
b. The Apostles
Acts 3:12-13, 16a So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know.
Peter and John were very careful to give God the glory. When the crowd gathered around they didn't take the credit for the miracle. Peter testified that God glorified His Servant, Jesus Christ even though He was rejected. Peter used the opportunity to preach Christ to the crowd. God deserved the glory because He had done the miracle. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Our good works can give us an opportunity to witness for Christ and glorify God. This is true as long as we don't allow pride and self recognition to creep in. We must give God the glory.
c. The Crowd
Acts 4:4, 21 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.
God was glorified when 5,000 believed the message that Peter preached. What began with Peter ministering to one individual touched thousands for Christ. The testimony of a changed life is very powerful. The crowd also glorified God for what He had done. They saw that the lame man had been healed and acknowledged that this was miraculous. God was glorified.
This is opposite to the way the Pharisees ministered to people. They loved to be praised by men. They wanted the glory themselves. Matthew 6:1-4 Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
When people blow their own trumpet God doesn't get the glory, man does. God won't bless that kind of ministry. Those ministering this way won't receive a reward either. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Says: Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. If our motive for serving is anything other than the glory of God, what we do will be only a religious activity and not true Christian ministry.
DL Moody In Birmingham
When evangelist D.L. Moody was preaching in Birmingham, England, in 1875, the noted Congregational preacher Dr. R.W. Dale cooperated in the campaign. After listening to Moody preach and seeing the blessings, Dr. Dale wrote in his denomination's magazine: I told Mr.. Moody that the work was plainly of God, for I could see no real relation between him and what he had done. Mr. Moody laughed happily, and said that he should be very sorry if it were otherwise.
God wants us to give Him the glory when we serve Him. If we don't do this pride creeps in. Before long we aren't serving God out of love but for the praises of men. Instead of ministering to needy we use them to gain recognition. What motivates your service? Is it love and God's glory? Or is it pride and the praises of men? God wants us to glorify Him!
Will you be a minister for Jesus Christ? Will you use the gifts and resources God has given you to reach the needy for Christ? Today we have seen four vital qualities for Christian ministry. Ministry takes place when Divine Resources meet Human Needs, through Loving Channels to the Glory Of God. Will you seek to apply these four principles in your ministry? Will you be a loving channel that God can use to reach people with His grace?
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.