Who Are True Church Leaders?

KEY VERSE: “For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” —II Corinthians 4:5

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Corinthians 4:1-12

TO BE a servant in God’s arrangements is one of the highest and most noble positions possible. Jesus, expressing this idea, said, “Let him who would be greatest among you be servant of all.” (Matt. 20:27) He thus eludes to the important fact that Jehovah God, the greatest of all beings, down through the ages has graciously exercised his incomparable abilities in the service of the whole creation. Jesus, as the express image of the Father, said of himself, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [serve] and to give his life a ransom for many. —Matt. 20:28

The Apostle Paul, likewise, caught up in an all-consuming zeal to be a servant not above his master, spent his life as a Christian serving those whom God was calling. While acknowledging his position and authority as an apostle, he knew his responsibilities must be carried out by service. His words to the Ephesian brethren were that “he gave some apostles … for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11,12) But the apostle did not stop short in mentioning only apostles; he included prophets (public expounders), evangelists, pastors, and teachers. In fact, everyone who aspires to glory, honor, and immortality must prove his worthiness through a life dedicated as a servant, serving the Lord, the truth, and the brethren, and indirectly, the entire world of mankind.

In the statement of the theme text, Paul refers to himself as a servant of the brethren. He elaborates by saying that in this service there was little glary from the standpoint of the flesh: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake.”—vss. 8-11

The troubles and persecution which the apostle underwent in God’s service he thought of as part of the dying process of one associated with the Lord Jesus; bearing about in the body his dying. He says we all have that privilege of being delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake. The primary terms of our servitude require that we lay down our lives as Jesus did. To the Roman brethren he illustrated it in baptism, “Being buried with him by baptism into death, … planted together in the likeness of his death.” But likewise in the same symbol is represented our ultimate hope of much greater service, “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, … we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”—Rom. 6:4,5

The apostle’s further statement to the Corinthians is an interesting twist of his words to the Romans. “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” (II Cor. 4:12) Expressed here is the very essence of the great apostle’s spirit of service. He was willing to go to any length in laying down his life for them, if it would mean the strengthening of their desire to obtain the hope of life centered in Jesus’ resurrection. “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus.” (vs. 14) And then he adds, “for all things are for your sakes.”—vs. 15

The latter are surely the words of a dedicated and faithful servant, and they are recorded for our benefit, because, like Jesus, the Heavenly Father holds up the Apostle Paul as an example of what Christian service should be: unselfish, willing to spend and be spent for others. Paul says he found that being an active servant of God, while tiring and afflicting to his body, in a very unseen way brought exhilarating strength and daily renewed zeal for life as he saw his work redound to the glory of God. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man may perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”—vss. 16-18

Dawn Bible Students Association
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