By Prince Chakanyuka
The bible in book of Corithians reads:The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious . . . how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?" (2Co-3:6-8);
These verses contains the contrasting choice that results in people either living by bankrupt human resources, or by bountiful heavenly ones. This contrast is "the ministry of death versus the ministry of life." These terms come from correlating four phrases: "the letter kills . . . the Spirit gives life . . . the ministry of death . . . the ministry of the Spirit." Of course, the old covenant of law is the "ministry of death," and the new covenant of grace is the "ministry of life" ("ministry of the Spirit . . . the Spirit gives life").
Jesus said in John 14:12 "Greater things than these shall ye do ;because I go unto the Father and ye behold me no more .Jesus expected us to operate under grace and not under the law.When people attempt to minister by the law, spiritual deadness results. Since the law sets forth a perfect standard, but offers no assistance, it "kills" those who try to live by it. The law was a tutor leading us to Christ and grace. The new born again christians are not under law. Jesus said a new commandment I give unto you that you love another. Only those who minister by grace can hold forth life to people, because grace alone can provide the life that God intends for humankind to experience. Ministry is to be engaged in by individuals, families, and churches. Every ministry will either be characterized as a "ministry of death" or a "ministry of life." Contact with ministries either brings spiritual deadness to people, or it brings spiritual vitality.
What would people encounter if an individual, family, or church were a "ministry of death" (that is, a law-based ministry that left people relying upon their own sufficiency)? They might encounter judgmentalism or fleshly striving. They might find self-righteousness or self-confidence. They might discover hypocrisy or frustration. They might detect harshness or coldness.
Conversely, what would people encounter if an individual, family, or church were a "ministry of . . . life" (that is, a grace-oriented ministry that encouraged people to rely upon God's sufficiency)? Instead of judgmentalism and fleshly striving, they would encounter love and peace. Instead of self-righteousness and self-confidence, they would find humility and confidence in God. Instead of hypocrisy and frustration, they would discover genuineness and fulfillment. Instead of harshness and coldness, they would detect gentleness and warmth.
Our God is a God of life. God's loving plan of salvation was that the Son would die to bring us life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (Joh-3:16). The Lord has life for us, and He wants us to minister life to others.
In addition to ministry of life, God desires to mark our lives with other spiritual characteristics. One of these is the godly encouragement that comes from living and serving under a ministry of mercy and grace. The service we now render to the Lord is based upon mercy: "since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy." We deserved condemnation by God and separation from Him for eternity. Instead, God had mercy upon us, forgiving us our sins. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Tit 3:5). Furthermore, by His mercy He enlists us in His service. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy" (1Ti 1:12-13). Our ministry is also about grace. "I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me" (Eph 3:7).
In light of having this type of ministry (one related to mercy and grace), "we do not lose heart." If we were called to serve God based on our merit and our resources, we would lose heart. We can periodically be tempted to discouragement, as we serve our God. Paul's testimony of service is similar to many of God's servants down through the ages. "For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears" (2Co 7:5). At times, we too are surrounded by impossibilities and threatened by apprehensions. What are we to do in such unsettling trials? "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Heb 12:3). No one faced more battles and betrayals than the Lord Jesus. Yet, no one served more faithfully. In battle after battle, the Father brought Jesus through victoriously. We can count on the Lord to have mercy upon us. He will pour out His grace upon us and bring us through victoriously as well.
Remember, our service to the Lord is based upon spirit, mercy and grace. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb-4:16).