By Pastor Israel

Text:Acts 20:17-28, 34-35

As we continue in our discussion on the theme, ‘Faithful stewardship’ I will like us to consider how faithful we are in serving God. It is assumed that we are all serving God in one form or the other. Thus, today’s message is titled, ‘How faithful are you in your service to God?’

In our first message on this theme I pointed out that the Great Commission which Christ gave to the Church (Matt. 28:18-20, Mk. 16:15-16. Lk. 24:47, Jn. 20:21) was not restricted to a particular set of people as many of us might think. It was meant for all generations of Christians. For this reason, He gave ministerial gifts and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to Christians (Eph. 4:7, 11-13; 1 Cor. 12:7-11) to enable us function effectively in our different services to Him.

He gave to everyone according to his ability. How each one of us fares in His service depends on how much effort we put into it. But God demands our faithfulness in the services we do for Him. Apostle Paul wrote: “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2).

It is not the size of our ministry that God is concerned with, but our faithfulness in the discharge of our duty toward Him. He considers each one of us as equal before Him and every service we offer as important. Whether you are a pastor, usher, worship-leader, prayer warrior, bishop, church cleaner, or what have you; you are all equal before Him and your job is as important as the others. In the end He will reward everyone according to their faithfulness in the discharge of their trust.

There are a few things which we need to be aware of that could erode our faithfulness as we embark on the great commission. These things are not new; those who went before us, the apostles of old also had to grapple with them. We need to learn from the way they coped and defeated them. Some of these hindrances are as follows:

1. Persecution: This may be regarded as the acid test of our faithfulness in the gospel work. There is no genuine Christian that can escape it. Our Master Jesus Christ Himself was persecuted: all His apostles were persecuted and many of them killed. Before He departed this world after His earthly ministry, He told His followers: “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy wrote: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will face persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). Reflecting on his sufferings in the cause of the gospel he wrote in his letter to the Corinthians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 3-4).
In other words, God will always see us through persecutions that may come in the cause of our service to Him. With this at the back of our minds, we should not give undue attention to persecution but focus on God and His promises that can never fail and be faithful in the trust He has given us.

2. Pride: This could make a Christian worker think highly of himself above others and make a shipwreck of his ministry. How did Apostle Paul avoid this temptation? He wrote that he was “serving the Lord with humility, with many tears” (Acts 20:19). He also wrote: “We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Cor. 1:12).
A minister of the gospel or any Christian worker should have the servant-spirit in the discharge of his duties like our Master Jesus (Phil. 2:5-7).

3. Compromise: The temptation to compromise the word of God for the fear of being persecuted could hinder our faithfulness to God in the work of the gospel. When addressing the elders of the Ephesian church in Miletus Paul told them: “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith to our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).
Today repentance from sin, holiness, and eternal condemnation of sinners in hell are rarely preached in our churches for fear of persecution and losing members. You pastor or church leader, know you will be held accountable to God if any member of your church fails to make heaven. Read Ezekiel 3:18.

4. Fear: The fear of death, imprisonment, and deprivation can also erode our faithfulness in our gospel work. Jesus said that anyone who loves himself more than Him is not worthy of Him. Apostle Paul offers us the example of unshaken commitment and dedication in his attitude to the great commission.
He wrote: “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (vs. 22-24).
This is the type of faithfulness that God requires from us as His blood-purchased children.

5. Discouragement: A servant of God should not be discouraged no matter how difficult or uncertain a situation may appear. Apostle Paul was determined to go to Jerusalem in spite of warnings to discourage him (vs. 22-24).

6. Worldliness: Personal needs and worldliness can adversely affect our faithfulness in the gospel work. The craze for money and material things of the world has made church work a big financial enterprise. Because many preach for money, they are unable to preach the whole truth of the gospel. They preach what people love to hear and not necessarily the full gospel, so that they may keep their congregation and attract more members.
Apostle Paul boldly declared: “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourself know that these hands have provided for my necessities and for those who are with me. I have shown you in many ways, by labouring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus that He said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’” (vs. 33-35).

7. Vision Killers: Such people can truncate our faithfulness in God’s work. Like Apostle Paul we should surround ourselves with people of like minds – men and women who operate in the Spirit and not in the flesh. We should not allow anyone to kill the vision God has given us.

Apostle Paul has shown us through his ministry how to serve God faithfully. I wonder what service you now render to God. Or you are yet to decide what to do with your God-given talent? If you are already in the gospel work, how faithful are you? Let take our cue from Apostle Paul and labour faithfully night and day for the Master.

The harvest is truly plenteous and crying to you and me to engage faithfully in the harvest of souls before Christ’s return. Always remember Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 15:58.

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