March 19, 2013
READ: 2 Corinthians 2:1-11
I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you (v.4).
Rachel, the daughter of fellow ODJ author Jeff Olson, is a young woman I love as if she were my own. Recently she completed an 8 month missions trip. During that time I became concerned when she contracted malaria while serving in a rural part of Kenya. Fortunately her health was restored after taking some strong medication. Rachel’s ministry for Jesus definitely caused her to be affected physically. Her emotions were even more affected, however, as she poured herself into people who were dealing with the effects of sin.
We often talk about effective ministry. But it’s true that serving others for Jesus is also affective. Paul was affected to the point of tears in his dealings with the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 2:4). In a previous ‘painful visit’, he had rebuked the Corinthian church—encouraging them to repent of their sin (v.1). An unnamed man apparently verbally attacked Paul at that time (v.5). Paul refers to a “severe letter” that was sent after his visit, calling the people to repent of their sin (7:8-10).
Paul knew how it felt to be affected as he served others. You and I can expect the same thing. We give away a piece of ourselves when we lovingly choose to help people deal with sin, addictions, pain and discouragement.
But blessings often wait in the wings. In Paul’s case the unnamed ‘villain’ in Corinth apparently repented of his evil ways. And though he had been adversely affected, the apostle did not hold a grudge. Instead he implored the people at Corinth to “forgive and comfort” the man (2:7). Paul went on to write, “When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too” (v.10).
Yes, from malaria to malcontents, ministering to others for Jesus will affect us. But the lasting effects can be a beautiful thing. —Tom Felten
Read John 11:32-36 and note how Jesus was affected as He ministered in Bethany.
How have you been affected by your ministry to others for Jesus? Why is it both good and difficult to be affected this way?