Job titles play an important role in societal living, particularly in our vocations. They help us identify our roles and objectives. The same is true for the work of ministry. Just ask Paul.
In his second letter to Timothy, he introduced himself—as was common for him—as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” Additionally, he referred to Timothy as “my beloved son” and greeted him with “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1-2).
In this often overlooked introduction, the Bible gives 12 keys to motivate us for ministry. These keys categorically appeal to our responsibility toward the gospel, our reason for the gospel, and our relationship in the gospel.
The Gospel Gives us Responsibility
Paul’s job in the work of ministry is described as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” As an apostle, Paul was personally called, trained, and sent by Jesus Christ. He was the last of the twelve called to the office of apostle (1 Cor. 15:8-9). Here are four keys related to his responsibility:
- Paul’s responsibility was distinct. It was a unique ministry characterized by Paul’s unique personality. He was “an apostle,” gifted by God for the ministry He desired him to have. In the same way, God has gifted us uniquely for a distinct ministry.
- Paul’s responsibility was dutiful. He was an apostle “of Christ Jesus.” Christ was the commander and boss. Although we were not personally called by Jesus, we are called by Him through Scripture, and it is our duty to work as He desires.
- Paul’s responsibility was delightful. It was a ministry full of joy. He was an apostle “by the will” of God. In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he described his apostleship as being “by the command” of God. The difference is emphasis on his desire, rather than his obligation, to serve. We will also find joy when we serve as God desires.
- Paul’s responsibility was divine. He was an apostle by the will “of God.” The decision to equip and send Paul to the ministry was God’s. Therefore, it was a heavenly task.
The Gospel Gives us Reason
Paul’s ministry was “according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” The gospel gave him grounds to serve and put before him purpose and rationale. Here are four keys about Paul’s reason:
- Paul’s reason was according. It was not misdirected, but in agreement, aligned, and harmonized with the gospel. It was “according” to the glorious message of truth. We are also called to align ourselves with the gospel in ministry.
- Paul’s reason was assured. It was aligned “to the promise” God guaranteed in “Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim. 1:9). With assurance of the gospel, we can also do the work of ministry.
- Paul’s reason was abiding. It was the promise “of the life,” which is endless and abundant. It abides in Christ and therefore forever.
- Paul’s reason was anchored. The promised eternal life is “in Christ Jesus,” which means it is fixed, established, and permanently positioned. Jesus, in whom life exists, will remain forever. We can serve confidently knowing the gospel is firmly established.
The Gospel Gives us Relationship
Paul wrote, “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” He recognized the family unit that exists in the body of Christ. Paul and Timothy belonged to “our Lord.” Here are four keys about his relationship:
- Paul’s relationship was personal. He called Timothy “my” beloved child. He took ownership of his heavenly adoption status. We also belong to God’s family, and the church is made up of siblings in Christ.
- Paul’s relationship was prized. He called Timothy his “beloved” child, befitting the meaning of his name, “dear to God.” Timothy was dear to Paul because he was dear to God. Our fellow Christians are dear members of the faith.
- Paul’s relationship was productive. Timothy was Paul’s “child” in the faith. He gave him the gospel for salvation and training. Paul discipled Timothy and taught Timothy to disciple others (2 Tim. 2:2). As members of God’s church, we are to be trained and training others in the faith.
- Paul’s relationship was privileged. It was a benefit of “grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus.” The mature church experiences peace brought from shared grace and mercy. We enjoy the peace of God through His church.
The gospel is inseparable from Christ. It gives us responsibility though a position we fill for Christ, reason through purpose we find in Christ, and relationship as a prize we receive from Christ.
Ask Jesus—the Beginning and End of the gospel—to motivate you for ministry as He did for Paul and Timothy. May you fan into flame the gift of God and fight the good fight for the faith.