I can already hear the furious fingers typing a scathing response to this post. But before you hit send, hear me out. I understand where people are coming from when they say marriage is a ministry, or sometimes that marriage is your primary ministry. What they are saying is, “Marriage is extremely important and requires lots of time and attention to flourish”. I get it and agree with the premise however it does not follow that because marriage is important that it should be considered a ministry. I know that for some, this is topic is sacrosanct; a type of sacred cow, if you will, that must be revered. Well, I think it’s high time to kill this particular sacred cow. Here are the top 5 reason that marriage is NOT a ministry…
1. THE BIBLE DOES NOT CALL MARRIAGE A MINISTRY
No where in the Bible is marriage referred to as a ministry. In fact, the two topics are not even addressed within the same paragraphs of scripture. The Bible treats them as separate, unrelated topics. To call marriage a ministry would be akin to calling sleeping a ministry. Technically I guess you could call anything a ministry but you’d be adding something to the word of God that is not there. Bottom line, if marriage is a ministry God forgot to add that bit to His word.
2. THE BIBLE’S DEFINITION OF MINISTRY EXCLUDES MARRIAGE FROM BEING ONE
If you look up ministry in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and Louw-Nida you can put the Biblical definition of ministry into two large categories. The first is an appointed office or position and the second is any act of service done to glorify the Lord.
In the first category- an appointed position, ministry can be split into two subsections; the ministry of the gospel and the ministry of the word. The ministry of the gospel is about preaching the gospel to the unsaved so that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Now, unless you are in a missionary marriage, you know ‘flirt to convert’, then marriage does not fit into that biblical definition. Nor does marriage fit into the ministry of the word, where one has the official position of teaching other believers what the bible says and how to be more like Christ (If this is your idea of marriage as a ministry you need to jump down to number 4).
The second categorical definition of ministry is where, I’m assuming, most people justify marriage as a ministry. In the broadest sense this type of ministry means service of some sort. It can be financial, it can be serving food, or using your spiritual gifts to bless someone. There are two reasons that marriage does not fit this definition. The first is that there is a difference between ministering to someone and having a ministry. The biblical use of this category is the former and not the latter. For example when I lived in LA, there was a one armed homeless man that washed windows at the freeway entrance I took to work everyday. Most weeks, I would give him money 2-3 times a week. I was ministering to him on a regular basis, but I did not have a homeless ministry. In the same way, just because you minister to (serve) your spouse on a regular basis does not mean that is your ministry. Secondly, if you have a ministry to everyone you serve than your marriage is not your only ministry, indeed every single relationship you have is a ministry. The reason people say that marriage is a ministry is because marriage is important, when every relationship is a ministry, then the importance of marriage is reduced. Additionally, ministry is about having a specific focus. Its a simple fact, if every relationship is a ministry, then all of your relationships, including your marriage, stops being a ministry they are just relationships.
To sum up- the biblical definition of ministry just doesn’t fit marriage. It is biblically inaccurate to say that marriage is a ministry. You can co-opt ministry and give it a different definition to fit your preference, but in the end your standing on the sinking sand of personal preference not the solid rock of God’s word.
3. GOD CREATED MARRIAGE FOR COMPANIONSHIP NOT FOR MINISTRY
When God created Adam he gave him ministry in the loosest sense of the word. Adam was placed in the garden to tend and keep it, then he was given the task of naming all the animals. It’s in the context of his God given ministry that Adam is given a wife. Interestingly, God did not say, “It is not good that Adam doesn’t have a wife to minister to.” But He did say, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Why did God create the institution of marriage? One word: Companionship. According to God, the main purpose of marriage is companionship, or friendship. There was ministry involved in the beginning, but it is completely disassociated from Adam and Eve’s marriage. Ministry was something they did together but it was not a description of their marriage. Any interpretation that is contrary to that is not based on the biblical account.
So, after the first three points there is no need to for the last two reasons why marriage is not a ministry. I mean, biblically speaking the case is closed, the coffin is buried. But I committed to give five reasons why marriage is not a ministry and my momma didn’t raise no quiter! So, on to the final points…
4. YOUR SPOUSE IS A PERSON NOT A PROJECT
There is an inherent danger in all ministries; people are viewed as projects. Even when you know that, it is still easy to slip into seeing those you minister to as projects because you’re always trying to help people get to the next level with God, always trying to ‘fix’ them, their issues, and their paradigms. When you bring then mentality of ministry into your marriage, it can set you up for hard times. What is important to remember is that your spouse needs to be treated as a person not a project. Thinking of you marriage as a ministry makes it difficult to see and treat them as a person because you’re to busy trying to change or help them. Your spouse to someone you walk with life through not someone you minister to.
5. MARRIAGE IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO NOT DO MINISTRY
Whenever someone tells me that their marriage is their ministry I ask if they are doing other ministry. 9 times out of 10 the response is, “No”. Bottom line, being in a marriage is not a good reason to not be in a ministry. It’s a cop out to justify doing nothing with your life by saying your marriage is your ministry. If there is no difference between your activities and the activities of your neighbor that is going to hell, you are lying to yourself.
All of us are called to have amazing marriages, to love and serve our spouses. Its the base line requirement, nothing special. On top of having an off the hook, God glorifying marriage you and I are also called to be serving in ministry.
If you’d like to learn more about how to choose a spouse check out my blog post on How to Hook Your Holy Hottie or sing up for my class on How to make decisions (including choosing a spouse) that are in line with God’s will.
The second characteristic of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is that it is “kind”. Kindness in its most basic sense is to bless or benefit someone without thought of repayment. Some practical examples of everyday kindness would be helping a little old lady across the street, holding an elevator for someone, or letting someone go before you in a check out line at the grocery store. Three things must be present in order for an act to qualify as being kind. First, the act needs to bless someone else. Second, it needs to not directly benefit the one being kind. Third, there needs to be no expectation of repayment from the one doing the act. For example, it would not be kind to help the little old lady across the street then ask her for money, or worse, to take her half way across the street and threaten to leave her there if she doesn’t pay for the second half of the journey. The essence of kindness is to bless with no personal benefit and no expectation of compensation, which is what love does.
So, not only does love suffer long, enduring mistreatment and insults without becoming resentful or vengeful, but it also actively seeks out opportunities to bless and be a benefit to those who are offending it. Which brings up a needful distinction between a blessing and a reward. A reward is something that is earned, like a paycheck—there is nothing kind about an employer giving what is deserved. In contrast, a blessing is something that is not based on merit or behavior, like a gift given out of love. God’s kindness cannot be earned.
God, in His love, is kind towards us; He actively seeks out opportunities to bless us. Take a moment and think about the implication of that statement. How many opportunities does a sovereign, omnipotent, infinite, creative God have to bless us? God is not restrained in any way in His ability to bless—He actually creates and handcrafts opportunities for us to experience His kindness. When we think about God and His kindness, it is important to remember that He blesses in accordance with who He is not in accordance with who we are; His blessings are not contingent on our behavior. God does not bless us because we are good, He blesses us because He is good.
What does God, in His kindness, ask for in return? Nothing. His desire is to bless us not to burden us—He is seeking to do things for us not to get things from us. The reality is that we have nothing to give Him anyway, there is nothing that we have that is not already His. Additionally, He is in need of nothing, loses nothing when He gives to us, and therefore requires nothing from us. God’s heart is infinitely filled with love and His hand is open toward us.
God’s remarkable kindness towards us should cause excessive thankfulness in us, our hearts should be overflowing with gratitude and gratefulness. God, in His kindness, showers us with blessings regardless of our actions or our attitudes; and knowing that should cause a change in both our actions and our attitudes—we should be grateful and thankful people.
However there is a silent killer that suffocates our heart’s ability to be thankful—Entitlement. Entitlement slowly blinds our eyes to the true goodness of God’s kindness; we begin to convince ourselves that we deserve it, that we have somehow earned it. We begin to take His kindness for granted, treating it as something common. Thankfulness and entitlement are mutually exclusive; you will not be thankful if you feel entitled and you will not feel entitled if your are thankful. Therefore, chose to have a thankful heart today–spend a few minutes thanking God for His kindness in your life.
As I reflect back on the ebbs and flows of my spiritual journey, one constant has been spending daily time with God, reading the Bible and talking to God in prayer. Sometimes I awaken in the morning and can’t wait to spend that time alone with Jesus. Other times I get up and sit down to spend time with him, not because I’m eager to, but because I know that if I don’t I’ll drift away from an intimate relationship with him.
This morning I was pondering, “How does one change from a ‘have to’ attitude to a ‘want to’ attitude when it comes to spending time with God?” In Psalm 42, the sons of Korah describe their longing for God like a parched deer, thirsting for a cool drink of water. They draw the parallel with these words, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2).
My wife Brenda, describes a time in her spiritual journey that she began praying Psalm 42:1-2 as a request for God to change her desire to be like that of a deer panting for a refreshing stream of water. She says that one day she realized that God had changed her “have to” to “want to” as a result of those prayers. And now, years later, I observe that continued soul-thirsting after God as she spends time each morning reading and meditating on the Word.
I’ve heard some say that we shouldn’t push ourselves to spend time with the Lord if it isn’t a delight. I disagree! I’ve discovered that you can’t “feel your way” into longing for God, but rather, developing the habit of daily time in the Word and prayer, accompanied with a prayer that God will develop the spiritual thirst in our soul, results in a new longing and increased intimacy with the one who is the lover of my soul.
Here are a few questions to evaluate (with honesty!) your motives in spending time with God:
- What do I believe about spending time with God?
- Do I feel guilty when I don’t read my Bible daily? If so, why do you think that is?
- How would my relationship with God be different a year from now if I spent regular, daily time with him?
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
May God increase our delight in his presence!
Pastor Dave Stewart
In our Rock Church Through the Bible Reading Plan today we are currently reading in Isaiah 43-46.
In this section of Scripture we come across the exhortation in Isaiah 46:8 that states, Remember this, and show yourselves men.” Literally, the Hebrew reads, “Remember this and BE MEN, take courage.
Similarly 1 Corinthians 16:13 teaches, Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave (literally ‘ACT LIKE MEN’), be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.
God loves it when men rise up to be men of integrity, men of faith, men of truth and men who emulate Jesus Christ.
Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes justice, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. Jeremiah 5:1
Revivals happen when God finds men like this.
What is a Godly man like?
Psalm 112:1-3 states, Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Ezekiel 22:30 asserts, So I sought for a MAN among them who would make a wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Men who value honor, courage and commitment are sometimes a rare commodity in our culture. In fact, Proverbs 20:6 states, Most men will proclaim everyone his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
This past week I had the honor of speaking to one of the Arizona fire chiefs and a fire department union leader regarding the nineteen firefighters who lost their lives in the Prescott area. These men are to be honored for their courage and sacrifice as they gave all to fight those horrific fires.
In a similar way, God is calling us as men to be men of honor, courage and commitment to fight the flames of compromise, wickedness and complacency.
Let’s be men like Isaiah when he heard the call of God. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’”
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then hours or even days latter a response pops into your head that you didn’t think of at the time? I recently experienced just that. I was talking to someone near and dear to me when they mentioned that Paul, after he was saved, went into the dessert for ten plus years in order to study and prepare himself to be used by God and like Paul we too need years of preparation before we will be in a place to be used by God. This wasn’t the first time I heard that sentiment and at the time I didn’t give it much thought. But a few days later, like a light bulb being turned on in my head, I realized the error of that line of reasoning.
Specifically, there are two problems with the view. First, it is factually inaccurate. To see the inaccuracy, one only needs to look at what Paul does after his conversion and after regaining his sight, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God… But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:20-22). Apparently, the three days he spent fasting after he met Jesus but before he regained his sight was all the preparation he needed to confound the Jews and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Secondly, the thought is based more on personal presupposition than the word of God. The ten plus years are often referred to as the silent years for a reason—there is not a lot of information about them, however there are some clues that can be picked up on. For instance, every time we see Paul before he is sent to be an apostle to the Gentiles he is preaching in synagogues, saving souls, and making enemies, which is the identical thing he did after the church of Antioch sent him out. There was no substantive change in Paul’s behavior—his ministry did not begin after he was commissioned but after he was converted.
To be completely frank, we sometimes use Paul’s “preparation period” as an excuse to do nothing significant with our lives. It stands as an unassailable justification for living self-focused, myopic lives. But we need to see it for what it is—a rationalization—and what it does to us—prevents us from doing something eternal for the Lord. Don’t wait to make a difference for the Lord, grab a hold of every opportunity, life is short, make it count! A friend of mine, a Romanian pastor, recounted a story to me that I think is appropriate to close this devotional. After several years of getting equipped my friend went out into the backwoods of Romania and began preaching the gospel in small villages. After preaching in one particular village an elderly man walked up to him and said, “I believe what you said and if what you said is true, that means that all my family members and loved ones are in hell right now. I have only one question, what took you so long to come here and preach? So many people who now have no change could have been saved. Where have you been?”
It’s a sobering story that begs the question, “What am I doing today to make an eternal difference?” It’s a question that only you can answer. It there a coworker that needs to hear the gospel? It is time to take a step of faith into something new? Is God calling you to share his love overseas? Do you need to use your resources to advance God’s kingdom? There are no do overs in life—choose to make an eternal impact today.
Hold open your hands for a moment, I know it sounds weird, go ahead and try it. Ok, now if you are near a kitchen or even have paper, tear off a small piece or grab some sugar, just a few grains of sugar and drop them into the palm of your hand.
———> (I’ll give you a moment to give it a try)
Ok, hopefully if you have done this, you are wondering why, so bear with me and let’s read a passage together (while holding your hand open)…
John 10:28 says (Jesus speaking) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.No one can snatch them away from me”
You are directly in the hands of our savior, right now, in this moment, even it’s its frightening, fearful, exhausting or just bliss, Jesus promises that NO ONE can snatch us from His hand. He also says something easy to miss, “I give them eternal life”…what are you turning to give you life, to give you joy and to give you strength?
You see although NO ONE can snatch us from His hand, it is possible for us to simply walk away from His hand and care in search for something else, outside of His hand.
I want to encourage you today, don’t look for affirmation from people, because WE are flawed, look for it directly from your heavenly father. All that you need can be found directly IN Christ. Only Jesus can make you feel the way you really long to feel, so don’t go looking for it in people, places or things. Just rest in whom gives us eternal life.
(Now go ahead and close your hand tightly and thank God that He holds your world in His hands)
A friend in The LIFE app www.thelifeapp.us recently brought to my attention an amazing concept out of 1. Chronicles 3:5. It is there and in 2. Sam. 5:14 that we learn of Bathsheba’s four children with David. Not only was Solomon born through this painful relationship, but another son was also born to David and Bathsheba. They named him Nathan. What an amazing thought; yes, most likely they named this little guy after the prophet Nathan, who was the friend who confronted David of his sin. And check out Luke 3:31 where we learn that Nathan and Solomon, as David’s sons, are the two chosen children to fulfill the prophetic lineage to Jesus Christ. David’s lineage splits off to Joseph and to Mary’s family lines from these two brothers.
Through Nathan is Mary’s lineage (Luke’s record) and through Solomon is Joseph’s (Matthew’s record). Grace upon grace! What a great lesson on friendship. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Prov. 27:6 Nathan out of love, hurt David deeply, but he spoke the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Yet it was this wound of honesty that brought David to repentance and forgiveness. As a result, Psalm 51 was written.
We must speak the truth in love to our friends. A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17), even when it hurts. I was introduced recently to a business leadership book by Patrick Lencioni entitled “Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty.” It is a fascinating insight into establishing a culture of vulnerability and transparency. Any group would be benefited in seeking to build a community where the fig leaves are removed and where truth and honest conversation can take place in the safe environment of God’s gracious love. Who knows, in such an setting, you may even have a child named after you by a friend.
In Hebrews 12:1,2 we read this “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
I love this passage because it reminds us that God is the one who people see in our daily lives. You might think going to the grocery store isn’t anything that resembles worship or even taking your kids back and forth from school as anything very spiritual but in fact what we can understand from this passage is that if we keep our eyes on Jesus, which is the champion of our faith, we will live of life of faith that a “crowd of witnesses” will take note of.
That’s what serving God is all about, following Christ means being a witness, and allowing Christ to fully dwell and live in us and in so doing, people around us will see him through our lives. Our church is about lives that are transformed, people who were once “blind” and can now “see”, people who were once “lost” and now “live”, people who were once dead to “sin” and are now alive in “Christ”.
My prayer is that your life is one that the crowds of witnesses around you will say, Jesus lives because I see it in them.
“He who has the Son has the life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” (1. John 5:12) All of life absolutely reduces down to the simple question, “Got Jesus?” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear in Matthew 7 that there is a narrow gate to life and a broad way to destruction. There are two trees, one that bears fruit and one that is cut down and thrown into the fire. There are also two confessions; one that leads to eternal life and one that will hear the words, “I never knew you.” And finally there are two foundations, one of sand and one of rock. When Jesus said, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life,” in John 14:6 He was not declaring that there are many ways to God.
Jesus alone IS the way to eternal life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. Though we live at a time when the majority embraces pluralism, this ideal is just the voice of the broad, fruitless confession that is founded on shifting sand of opinion, and not on the Rock of Jesus Christ. It is essential to know the truth as declared by God Himself in the Scriptures. And this is the truth that sets people free. Be encouraged to dig into the Word of God to know with assurance that you are holding onto God’s opinion and not your own. And it is this pursuit in life that leads to The LIFE. It is the goal of The LIFE App to encourage people to grow within this LIFE. This is the life of John 3:16 from the Wycliffe Bible Translations Da Jesus Book
www.pidginbible.org “God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foreva.” Be sure to sign up for The LIFE online discipleship tool Just go to: www.thelifeapp.us Be sure to join a group or start a group with your accountability peeps.
Have you ever thought of the aroma that you spread to those around you? Not your aftershave or perfume, but the fragrance of Christ that you carry with you!
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”(v14)
It’s the paradox of being a conquered slave, but at the same time being an emissary of God himself! Then in the next verse, he describes another paradox, that to those who are being saved, we are the aroma of life, but to those who are perishing, we are the aroma of death. The same gospel has opposite effects on people – a beautiful fragrance of life or a pungent, offensive odor of death.
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul describes why some people can’t understand the amazing gift of salvation that God is offering to them:
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (v 3-4)
A few years ago, I was at a conference and one of the speakers said that we have three options of how we relate to the world:
- Fortress – we can pull away from the world and protect ourselves and our children from all the bad that is out there
- Force – we can choose activism to try to force change through legislation and political action
- Fragrance – we can live in the world in such a way that others see Christ’s love through us
There is a spiritual battle being waged for the souls of humanity, and our job is to (1) take the gospel – the beautiful fragrance of Christ – with us everywhere we go, and (2) pray for the illumination of the hearts and minds of unbelievers around us.
What kind of fragrance are you spreading?