In this chapter, Paul shared what Christian ministry amounts to. In one sense all believers are called to minister and the principles apply to all who receive this ministry through God’s mercy (vs 1). Notice that Paul began by emphasizing that this ministry should not be characterised by shameful ways, by deception, or by distorting the Word of God. Rather it is carried out by setting forth the truth, the gospel, plainly in the sight of God (v2). We realise how much of Christian ministry today is carried out in shameful ways, depending on worldly methods, even to the extent of using deception, distortion of God’s Word, to achieve results which surely do not please God and do not glorify Him. God expects us to share the plain truth of the gospel and to leave the result to Him (v4). And He also expects us to be aware of spiritual opposition and we need to preach Christ and not ourselves (v5). How much of Christian ministry today is highlighting the preacher, the minister, the man, rather than Christ and the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. How much of today’s Christian ministry exalts the success of such and such an organisation, such and such a ‘church’, rather than the glory of God in the face of Christ. Paul went on to describe the true and real ministry. It is one that demonstrates that the surpassing power is from Christ and not from us (v7). In fact, the true minister of Christ must be prepared to suffer for Jesus’ sake – crushed on every side, persecuted but not abandoned, given over to death for the sake of the Lord, always carrying the death of Christ in our body so that the life of Christ may also be revealed in our body (vs 8-12). This is what Paul meant when he wrote “I die daily”. As death works in the minister for Jesus’ sake, life of the Lord works in those who receive the ministry. How different this is in the ministry of many ‘ministers’ today! We need to repent and let God be great and we be forgotten.

Jesus’ way of leading and ministry: it is not techniques and strategies; it is instead a Jesus-leadership spirit and sensitivity, which is not characterised by the exercise of power and the drawing of followers. As ministers and servants of Jesus, we must remember that God loves us not because of what we do or able to do, but because God has created us and redeemed us in love so that we can proclaim this love to the rest of humankind.A statement by a Christian student is noteworthy – he wrote: “I have had my own experience of seeing pastors’ attitudes change towards me when I did not do what they wanted. If you arenot a cog in the machine that they are running they discard your importance. That is not Christian ministry.

This is contrary to what is shared in 2 Corin. 4. The treasure in the vessel of clay is not ‘allowed’ to shine; instead the vessel of clay seeks to ‘shine’, of course with no success whatsoever. The vessel needs to be broken to allow the real treasure to come forth and shine in all its brilliance. This is Christian ministry as it should be.