Enthusiastic and Confident!
I really like the Passion version of Romans 15:17 where Paul says “Now then, it is through my union with Jesus Christ, that I enjoy an enthusiasm and confidence in my ministry for God.” That same verse in the ESV reads “In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.”
Many of us might shy away from using the word proud to describe how we feel about our ministries, but I think all of us would agree that we want to feel enthusiastic and confident in what we are doing for the glory of God and the good of His kingdom.
The key to having those feelings, according to Paul, is found in our union with Jesus. Being obedient to use the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit on behalf of others is to have the same mind as Jesus, who was obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:5,8). This is a part of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), which in the Passion version is called “sharing the likeness of His Son.”
We know Jesus was enthusiastic and confident as He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. He was sure of His purpose and secure in the love of God for Himself as well as for the people He was sent to. His demeanor encouraged people to put their trust in God who had sent them a Savior. His actions communicated the strength of His convictions. Since we have the same Holy Spirit in and upon us as Jesus did, we are able to do the works that Jesus did, and amazingly even greater works as Jesus said in John 14:12.
In Galatians 6:4-5 from the Passion version, Paul encourages us, “Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others. Every believer is ultimately responsible for his or her own conscience.”
The Message Bible has Galatians 6:4-5 in this way. “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
Paul is writing to the Corinthians about the fruit of his ministry in 2 Corinthians 2-3, and in 3:2-5 (Passion) he says: “For your very lives are our ‘letters of recommendation,’ permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and read by everybody. As a result of our ministry, you are living letters written by Christ, not with ink, but by the Spirit of the living God—not carved onto stone tablets but on the tablets of tender hearts. We carry this confidence in our hearts because of our union with Christ before God. Yet we don’t see ourselves as capable enough to do anything in our own strength, for our true competence flows from God’s empowering presence.”
The ESV renders 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, “…our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant…” This is where our enthusiasm and confidence in ministry originates and is maintained. Our union with Christ, before God, is what makes us sufficient and competent to fully embrace that very union which generates such confidence and enthusiasm.
Here are a few things to always keep in mind so that your confidence and your enthusiasm will be maintained at optimal levels.
- It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:20).
- To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Cor 12:7).
- We know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58).