The Work of a Priest; November 9, 2020

Romans 15:15-16 I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

It’s always interesting when God has me write on a section of Scripture that isn’t underlined in my Bible, because that means it’s fresh revelation. This particular section is especially interesting because if you substituted “Japanese” for “Gentiles,” it’s something I could say about myself! Paul here seems a little concerned about how many toes he might have stomped on in the course of his letter, and I feel I’m something of a “toe stomper” at times myself. The point, however, is that political correctness must never be allowed to get in the way of proclaiming God’s truth. We aren’t to offend needlessly, but we must never fail to express what God is saying out of a fear of offending. We are indeed to speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15) but remember that genuine love cares enough to risk being disliked. We all want to be accepted and liked, but when that takes priority over the truth of God, it becomes idolatry. It is quite interesting to see Paul, who was of the Tribe of Benjamin, refer to “priestly duty,” when Jewish priests were exclusively from the Tribe of Levi. It is clear that he was on the same page as Peter, who famously wrote about believers being “a royal priesthood.” (1 Peter 2:9) Here Paul is saying that a priest is to proclaim the Gospel, which, following Peter, means that every believer is to do so! The objective of that is that our hearers would become “an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” We tend to place the focus of evangelism on people, on “getting them saved,” when Paul is placing the focus on God. We are indeed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, but before and above that we are to love God with all that we have, all that we are. I think it’s very good to be reminded of that from time to time.

Recently a Facebook friend quoted my father from one of his books, where he said, “The most important thing a missionary can do is to find the Japanese people that God wants to call for Christian workers, help them to hear the call, and then lead them as they train themselves for the work.” In other words, he recognized the poor efficiency of a foreign missionary in evangelism in Japan, so the missionary needed to equip Japanese to do that work. I couldn’t agree more, though I didn’t have that quote in my personal awareness before. That is exactly in line with Paul’s famous statement that the Ministry Gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4 are “to prepare God’s people for works of service.” (Ephesians 4:12) That is to say that I’m not to beat myself up over not being able to do everything, but rather, I am to work on getting others to do it, and prepare them for what they are to do. That’s a lesson I’ve been painfully slow to learn! I am indeed called and sent to present the Japanese as a holy offering to God, but not only can I not do it in my own strength, I’m not even the right person to do most of it directly. Rather, I’m to be a “tool maker,” forging others to do the work God has prepared for them.

Father, thank You for this Word. I’m a little frustrated that it’s taken me so long to hear it! Thank You for those who have gone into active ministry because of my ministry. Help me be more and more effective in that work, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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