Thanks Be To God: The Ministry of Others

Participation in the family of God is about mutual ministry for the sake of the gospel. We serve and we are served. Over the years I have come to appreciate more and more the ministry of others, both to me and more generally. Witnessing and experiencing the ministries of others is a witness and experience of the ministry of our Lord. We ought, then, to thank God for the ministry of others.

Think of Paul’s ministry. The missionary/church-planter had helped to establish many churches and was helping still others to grow towards maturity. Despite distance and time he maintained a level of responsibility for these churches. It was, in all honesty, too much for one man to be the sole care taker of dozens of churches. But Paul never worked alone, he loved to build missionary teams and to take along with him on each of his trips various men who could assist him. In 2 Corinthians 8:16 he is particularly thankful for the ministry of young Titus. It was Titus equal concern for the good of the Corinthians that proved a blessing to Paul. He writes:

But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. (2 Cor. 8:16-17)

It brought joy to the apostle’s heart to know that Titus cared as much for the Corinthians as Paul did. He loved that Titus was ministering to them on his behalf and in his absence. He thanked God for the ministry of another.

God has called us to be part of the church. We are not called to be individual Christians running around on our own. We are not the sole bearers of the mission of God. We are not solely responsible for all the work of the Lord. As part of the church there are myriads of ways that we benefit from the ministry of others. On the one hand we can benefit directly. As others minster directly to us we encounter the love of God, the meeting of our needs, and the enjoyment of relationships. We also benefit indirectly. We benefit from a culture of service within the body of Christ. We benefit as we participate in communities that genuinely care for one another, speak the truth in love to one another, and spur one another on to love and good deeds. We benefit also as we watch others care for those we love. Not only does mutual ministry lead to lessening any one person’s burden for another, but it blesses us to see love communicated to those that we love. When people minister to my children I am blessed. When people minister to my wife, I am delighted. When fellow staff members or small group leaders come alongside those I am counseling I thank God for their aid.

Whose ministry has blessed you? In whose ministry do you take real delight? For whom do you thank God? I could name countless people and ministries. I thank God for the ministry of The Biblical Counseling Coalition, which has provided me with a “counseling home” among the sea of organizations. I thank God for the ministry of my mentor Frank Tallerico who taught me and modeled for me good care and counsel. I thank God for Kenzie Essex who loves my kids and cares for them. I thank God for Dan Reed who provided a missing piece for a counselee I was struggling to help. I thank God for Jim Alvaro who blesses our church through so many diverse acts of service and kindness. I thank God for Bob Johnson who blesses our whole church through faithful teaching of the Word. Who blesses you? For whose ministry do you say, “thanks be to God.”

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