So often, as one person seeks to minister to another, it is as though there is a wall that has been put in between them. This wall can be difficult to break down – sometimes seemingly impossible. As the old adage goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Sometimes the road to be able to minister to a person can be long and arduous. This road oftentimes must be paved with love first.
Love is essential in ministering to others faithfully. Paul adamantly declares that without love, a person’s ministry will be fruitless. There are people in the world today that have been scarred for various reasons in their lives. They can find it difficult to trust another, and therefore ministering to them can be challenging.
Everyone wants to be loved, but not everyone wants someone to minister to them. Apart from love, Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). Without love, the words that a person speaks are simply noise to another. They will have no real effect.
Real world examples
Yes, there are times when someone may be able to get another person to obey. In the case of a parent and a child, the parent can get the child to obey. The parent has authority over the child, and the child is small and weak. Getting children to obey is not the same thing as loving them and speaking to them in love. Fear will often get children to obey their parents.
But what happens when the parent is no longer around or when the children leave the home? The fear will be gone, and they will be left to themselves. It will be the love of the parents for the children that will impact their hearts and bring about an obedient lifestyle when they leave the home. They will want to obey and do what their parents told them because they love their parents.
What about in a relationship of a pastor and one of his sheep? In this scenario, the same type of response can occur as in that of a child and a parent. As a church member is in church, he can be saying the right things and doing the right things. He can be doing what his pastor tells him to do in front of his face. But it could be a different story in the privacy of this member’s home. However, there will be something that will truly cause this church member’s heart to open to the teaching and ministry of his pastor.
If the pastor genuinely loves this church member, it will bring about a flourishing and transparent relationship. If the church member finds himself struggling in some way, he will believe that he can turn to his pastor and seek his help. A pastor having a doctorate or being the most biblically knowledgeable man on the earth is not nearly as important as if that same pastor genuinely loves his flock.
What about the relationship of a boss and his employee? This is another great opportunity for life-changing ministry. If you are in a leadership position in your occupation, use this as a great opportunity to witness to those around you. It is important to know that you are to glorify God in whatever you do. God desires for Christians to be in various occupations and shine the light of Christ.
For the boss or manager of a company, this can be a difficult position in which to show the love of Christ. Many jobs will consist of believers being over unbelievers. Often this will result in people thinking differently, enjoying differing activities, and speaking differently. All of these matters are often the result of a different moral compass. These matters will also arise when Christians work with other Christians.
It can be easy for a boss to bark out orders and get on his way to attending to his tasks. But overtime, this will leave a sour taste in the mouth of his employees. A great way to combat this is to make sure that you are encouraging your employees and complimenting their work. If a love is shown from a boss to an employee, it will create a great working environment.
Often, the employees will then desire their boss to continue as their boss and to do well in his position. They will find a sense of joy in obeying the commands of their boss if they know their boss truly cares for them and has their best interest at heart.
What else does the Bible say on this matter?
Love is prized as a jewel in the Scriptures. Some of the greatest facets of a Christian (i.e., hope and faith) will pass away. Nevertheless, the Bible tells that love will remain throughout this age and the next. Love will always be a defining mark of a Christian.
Paul mentions the following:
• Speaking in tongues of men
• Speaking in tongues of angels
• Having prophetic powers
• Having an understanding of all the mysteries of the world
• Having all the knowledge in the world
• Having as much faith as possible
• Giving away everything
• Dying for the faith
As one looks at this list, it is a remarkable one. It consists of being martyred for the name of Christ, having the greatest faith in the world, and even having the gift of prophecy. But Paul speaks of all these as being meaningless if they are not done in love.
Gifts of the Spirit
In the context of the great love chapter known as 1 Corinthians 13, what is being directly referenced are the spiritual gifts. In chapter 12, we read about the following gifts:
• Utterances of wisdom
• Utterances of knowledge
• Distinguishing between spirits
• The interpretation of tongues
This list is not exhaustive, but rather, there are many gifts that the Spirit gives to the people of God. Simply put, the Spirit gifts the flock of Christ in unique ways to minister one to another. The gifts of the Spirit are not meant for the person who has the gift. Rather, the gifts of the Spirit are meant to build up the body of Christ.
Not all people have the same gifts. Someone may find that he has the gift of evangelism, while another finds himself with the gift of giving. Still another may find that he has the gift of teaching, while yet another finds that he has the gift of mercy.
Nevertheless, the gift or gifts that God gives must be done in love. No matter what gift a person has, if he does not use it in love, it will not be received by others. Someone could be the most brilliant man on the face of the earth, but if he has not love, nobody will appreciate his brilliance.
What does this mean for the body of Christ? Whatever sphere of ministry the Lord has called you to (parent to child, pastor to flock, boss to employee, etc.), work at it with all your heart and do it with love. Love will form the path from one person to another.
People can become hardened overtime. Love will shatter hard hearts and break down any wall. Know your giftings and seek to build up the body of Christ in love. Remember, do not despise the gift that God has given you by thinking it is a lesser gift than others have. On the other hand, do not think of yourself too highly, as though your gift is better than others. The feet need the legs, and the hands need the arms. God is the Giver of gifts, and He calls you to use your gift in the love of Christ.
Father, I thank You for the ways that You love me each day. Your love is evident, and I can see it clearly in the death of Your Son. Please help me to love like You and to use my gifts for Your glory. Teach me what my gift is, and fan it into flame. You are worthy of praise, honor, and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.