At the meeting of the Oklahoma State Assoc. of Free Will Baptists last week our moderator gave an admonition where he talked about ministry. Part of what he said was pastors need to “work awful hard.” I loved that. Ministry absolutely requires us to “work awful hard.” By ministry I’m not just talking about the pastoral ministry. I generally define ministry as serving Jesus by serving others. I believe Scripture teaches that every believer is a minister. Every believer is in the ministry. We just all have different ministries. Regardless of what our area of ministry is, we all need to “work awful hard” to be effective in our ministries.
We need to “work awful hard” to reach someone for Christ.
We need to “work awful hard” to make disciples of all nations.
We need to “work awful hard” to help the helpless.
We need to “work awful hard” to show the love of Jesus to a lost and dying world.
We need to “work awful hard” to find and use our spiritual gifts for the glory of God and the advance of the Gospel.
We need to “work awful hard”… You get the idea.
If you are like me, this makes good sense to you but it is in conflict with something else we are often taught. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times that I’ve been told that it’s not about what we do but it’s about what Jesus does. I’ve been told that it’s not that we need to work harder but we need to trust Jesus more. Or my personal favorite, just let go and let God.
Those who tell us to work hard usually have Scripture to back up their point. Those who tell us that it’s not about our work but Jesus’ work also have Scripture to back up their point. Which one of these is correct? Do we need to “work awful hard” or do we need to trust in Jesus’ power? The answer is yes.
“To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:29 (NKJV)
One of the great things about Jesus is that he never expects us to do anything He calls us to do in our own power. He always equips us to do what He wants. Unless you just choose to, you never have to serve Jesus in your own power and in your own strength. That is the point that Paul is making here.
I like that he says he labors and strives. Really, Paul is basically saying that he “works awful hard.” If we are going to be effective in the ministry that Jesus as called us to do, then we are going to have to “work awful hard” but we do it with the mighty power that Jesus provides.
Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is to fill us with the power we need to do what God would have us to do.
“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 (ESV)
Jesus informs the disciples that they won’t be going in their own power or their own strength to share the Gospel. He tells them they will be clothed with power from on high. I love the picture this paints. This pictures the Holy Spirit covering us like clothing and enabling us to powerfully and effectively do whatever it is that Jesus wants us to do.
One of the key things to understand about this filling and empowering of the Holy Spirit is that He always empowers us for service. He does not empower us to set. When you read the book of Acts the common thing that happened when believers were filled with the Holy Spirit is that they went out and served God. Think of it like this. How many of us will fill the tank up on a car we are going to park and never drive again? None of us would. We fill up the cars that are going to serve us by fulfilling their purpose. That is very similar to what Jesus does. He fills us with His Spirit so that we can serve Him by fulfilling His purpose for our lives.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
As parents we teach this verse to our kids to give them confidence. We don’t want them to use the excuse, “I can’t” to keep from doing something. This is a great thing do but perhaps we should apply to ourselves first. There is no mission Jesus will give you that you cannot accomplish through His power.
Through Jesus’ power…
You can share the Gospel effectively.
You can lead someone to Christ.
You can find and use your spiritual gifts.
You can exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
You can conquer your sinful desires.
You can live a holy life.
You can raise kids to love and serve the Lord.
You can have a strong and healthy marriage.
You can do far more than you can possibly imagine.
For further study read Exodus 3:10-4:14. What did God want Moses to do? Was this going to be an easy assignment? What excuses did Moses give as to why he couldn’t do what God wanted him to do? What was God’s answer to Moses’ excuses? How does this encourage you to “work awful hard” trusting in Jesus to empower you to accomplish your mission?