Sincere Ministry

Paul expresses that the minister, as one bearing the fragrant knowledge of Christ, is also himself an aroma to God (2 Cor. 2:14-15). Yet this scent smells differently to believers and the lost.

Those who have embraced Christ, although they cannot fully comprehend it, experience his divine life, mystically imparted and present in their being, in rounds of increasing glory and maturity. They possess the life of God himself and the kingdom to come in commenced reality.

Yet the lost who constantly refuse Christ only entrench themselves in the condemnation of sin. The gospel is a constant reminder of a loving God perhaps, but one who calls them out of sin to holiness, which is undesired and even offensive, like an odor.

“To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life,” Paul says. “And who is equal to such a task?” (v. 16)—or what minister is qualified and fit for such a charge?

The logic goes deeper: Who desires such eternal responsibility, except they are called by God? Except they love truth. Except they clearly see the stakes, the soul in the everlasting bliss of God or forever separated from him.

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Paul then contrasts genuine ministry and false teachers in his vicinity: “We do not peddle the word of God for profit” (v. 17). Imaged is a huckster, one selling petty items to garner himself a hefty profit. He mostly likely purchased his wares just to resell them with an excessive markup.

Further, a cultural allusion is made to one who dishonestly diluted wine to sell. The idea is applied to the false teachers who used philosophy to corrupt God’s Word to make it more palatable and enticing to hearers though adulterated. These were tricksters.

So Paul means to suggest that with so critical a preaching responsibility, it is unthinkable to do any less than communicate the gospel “with sincerity,” or with all pure motive, knowing we are always in God’s presence (v. 17).

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Ours is the task to always be ready to share Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15), in fellowship with other believers and with patient care for those who are lost. We also have a responsibility to gospel purity. We never whitewash the message and neither do we use it with our own design.

Just as the Logos came down to us, we should speak the Word simply and sincerely because the stakes are great. Watch for your “gospel moments” and make sure Christ is fully heard.

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5 thoughts on “Sincere Ministry

  1. Good stuff! You talked about one of my favorite verses in the Bible. 🙂

    I also liked what you said here… “So Paul means to suggest that with so critical a preaching responsibility, it is unthinkable to do any less than communicate the gospel “with sincerity,” or with all pure motive, knowing we are always in God’s presence (v. 17).”

    Amen. This “knowing” is one of the things that we, as Christians, don’t realize enough, that we’re always in God’s presence. And knowing this, how would that change who we act or interact with others? But it should also give us confidence because He IS with us. It is HIS fragrance that gives life. It is HIS life in us that always leads us in triumph.

    • Oh, cool! Have you written on these verses? ‘Amen’ to your point, also. I see every advantage in that “confidence,” that fragrance of Christ. Even if my witness is rejected and I’ve only planted seed, that doesn’t diminish God’s ability and action in what I’ve done. Hope you’re well!

      • Actually, I have a draft on this verse. I will try to finish it this week now that you’ve inspired me. 🙂 My focus is more on the fragrance part. And amen, we only plant seeds. Our role is to be a witness, not be their savior.

  2. “Ours is the task to always be ready to share Jesus (1 Pet. 3:15), in fellowship with other believers and with patient care for those who are lost. We also have a responsibility to gospel purity. We never whitewash the message and neither do we use it with our own design.”

    Thank you for this Michael. I’m in a situation right now with my online classes that I am the only one bring Jesus into the conversation. It causes tension (even though this is a “Christian” university). I sense the rolled eyes when my name appears in the dialogue. Yet as you say, I need to always be ready to share–in sincerity and gentleness and also with gospel purity and patience.

    • I understand that letdown: to be around supposed Christians only to discover that you’re the sole person who seems to know Jesus. And it’s not easy, so I will pray that your witness shines brightly. Sometimes you’ll get a Nicodemus or two to secretly inquire. You never know how God may be working in their hearts.

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