I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Grace: God gives you this gift that allows you to serve. The moment you think you’ve earned the right to serve, you’re lost as God’s servant.
- We serve by God’s power. Servants are energized by God’s power. When we try to do it in our own power we lose motivation and are weary.
- We serve in humility. Service does not elevate us above people. If we allow it to, we are going down a dangerous path.
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
Servants of Christ see themselves as managers of God’s mystery.
The “mystery” is that everyone is included in Jesus’ invitation to salvation, not just Jewish people.
What does it mean to be a manager of God’s mystery? A manager is someone who is given responsibility to oversee something that belongs to somebody else. God’s grace is a stewardship. He gives us forgiveness so that we can share forgiveness.
One of the lynch pin verses of my ministry is the Great Commission that Jesus gives at the end of Matthew (28:18-20). I believe it is our (the church’s) marching orders. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Uhhh…seems cut and dry. What’s our job? Make disciples.
But what I love even more about this passage is what sandwiches it. One day I was reading this and not really “with it” spiritually speaking. Might I say I even had some doubts about what God’s purpose for my life was? So maybe you need to pull out your Bibles out but look at this: 28:16-17, “Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” What? Some doubted? After they saw Jesus raised from the dead they doubted? Pretty much. Isn’t that how I am sometimes? God comes through again and again for me. And yet, I sometimes doubt.
But look what happens immediately after that phrase, “but some doubted?” “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore….'” In other words, we can only accomplish the mission Jesus set out for us because He is with us. Moreover, we don’t have to doubt because Jesus is with us. Surely Jesus isn’t with us 2,000 years later! Yes, He is, because it ends in the same way, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Don’t you love God’s Word?
Ephesians 3 is the perfect chapter for someone who at times feels useless or unimportant or ineffective in this world.
This chapter underscores that if you’re going to serve Christ in an effective way you need to see yourself in the right way.
Paul saw himself as a prisoner of Christ (3:1). Of course at this time he literally was in prison but it’s a vital part of being a servant. No matter where he was, Paul was still on mission. He knew he could serve Jesus in every situation.
When I feel useless, unimportant or ineffective I begin to wonder what I could do in that moment, that environment, that situation that would bless someone else. What can I say to encourage? What can I say to challenge? What can I do to demonstrate the love of God in my life? That motivation comes from knowing how I am in Christ.
When I do that I quickly discover that I’m no longer useless, unimportant or ineffective.
If we make hard and fast rules they will be man-made and legalistic. This is where the Spirit must lead the individual Christian. “Live in it and drive it as long as you feel no unease in your spirit” while at the same time educating yourself about world poverty and what things you can do to help it. The Kingdom of God is not about rules, but about the goodness and confidence and laughter we discover when we let the Holy Spirit lead us.
We want black and white answers, but often that is just because we are lazy and unwilling to do the challenging work of discernment.