But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. Romans 5:15-16
I appreciate it when I receive the ministry of others. Everything I know I have been taught by dedicated followers of Christ who invested their time and talent to teach me the ways of the Lord. People have prayed for me when I was deathly ill and the encouragement and comfort I received from that was immeasurable. My family and I have been supported by the gifts of our fellow believers when we were in full time pastoral service. They ministered to us so we could minister to them.
I have certainly been on that side, too. I have spent hours studying, preparing, drafting, and practicing to deliver a 25-minute sermon. I have spent years refining my own teaching so that I can deliver a lesson to maximum effect. My wife has spent her entire life “practicing” ministering to children so that she can teach her current group of students how to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Sometimes, the value of what a minister provides may not be appreciated in what the object of that ministry receives. Many is the time I have devoted my time to preparing a sermon only to hear that, while it was “great”, it was not as “good” as last week, or the last pastor, or the parishioner’s last church. I have certainly been guilty of it. Some of those believers who supported our family made real sacrifices to give to our church. They went without so that we could have more. I am sure we can all agree that children have very little concept of what goes into providing them with the ministry they need.
If you are doing ministry so that you can be appreciated, you may be missing the whole point of ministry. But the greater lesson for us is on the receiving end of ministry. Our text for today describes the ministry of Christ. He freely gave Himself – not some of His time, energy, or preparation – His whole self.
He died to minister justification to us. It cost Him everything. How do we value that ministry? If ever we felt tempted to be offended by the reaction we receive to our own ministry, we only need to remember how we ourselves have responded to all that Christ gave to us.