Inspired To Serve

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  5
Subject: Ordination; Ministry; Preacher; Service
[Editor's Note: From time to time a minister will be called upon to preach on the occasion of the ordination of a person accepting God's call into the ministry. This message is one I preached on the occasion of a young man named Larry who was called to preach out of the church I was pastoring at the time.]

The little boy was about 11 years old and he had just accepted Christ as his Savior. He was excited and ready to obey every command. The preacher said that every Christian should be a witness. The little lad went out the next week to go to the store for his mother and ended up standing next to a man on a street corner. He looked up at the man and boldly asked, “Say mister, are you a Christian, would you like to be one?” The man spoke condescendingly to the boy and arrogantly said, “Son, I’ll have you know I am an ordained cleric.” The little boy didn’t know that the term cleric meant he was a preacher, so he just smiled at the man and said, “That’s alright mister, my preacher said it doesn’t matter what you’ve done God will still save you.”

Actually, being an ordained minister doesn’t make you any better than one who isn’t ordained. Public ordination is the merely the human endorsement of an acknowledged heavenly calling. To be a better minister requires having the right inspiration. Larry, I want to share with you three great sources of inspiration that if kept in the forefront of your life will help you to become all that God intends for you to be.

In 2 Corinthians 5, we discover several verses which give us an insight into Paul’s inspiration as a servant of God. The things that inspired Paul brought him to the end of his life saying, “I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the course, there is a crown of righteousness laid up for me.” It would be wonderful if those words could be said of every man of God when he comes to the end of his earthly service. Certainly Paul was not just mouthing words when he penned the closing obit for his ministry. Paul had been through more than perhaps any minister of the Gospel since our Lord, Himself. Paul was imprisoned on more than one occasion for simply preaching the message of salvation found in Jesus. He was beaten on one occasion and left for dead. He was stoned, shipwrecked, harassed, and hunted down by his enemies. In fact, there is no way we can recount all the difficulties that Paul faced in his ministry, but he was faithful to the end. Again, we must ask how Paul endured all the things he went through but never became discouraged enough to throw up his hands and quit. Furthermore, Paul never lost the zeal that he had when he began his ministry. He did not just limp out through the last days of his service for Christ. So, what I want you to see is the motivation that moved the man. My prayer for you, Larry, and for all of us set apart to God's service, is to experience and maintain these motivational elements in your ministry

So, let’s consider these three attributes that God’s man can and should have in his life. We begin with…

I. The Fear of God

2 Corinthians 5:11 states, ‘Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.”

Paul was inspired to serve faithfully, not because of what others might think of him, but rather by the realization that a judgment was coming. In verse 10 Paul makes reference to the coming judgment of all the saints. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Paul was aware that even Christians will face a judgment day. The Christian judgment will not be for salvation because that was settled when the person accepted Christ. The Christian judgment, or Bema Seat Judgment, will be for gain or loss of reward. Paul was in awe of the day he would stand before the Sovereign God and give account of his ministry. This motivated him to remain faithful. He did not want to serve the Lord and then fall by the wayside and appear before the Lord as a minister who failed Christ.

Larry, one day you will stand before God. You must be faithful because one day, when the account of your ministry for the Lord is judged, you will want that minister to bring honor and glory to Jesus. Keep the Lord always before you. Consider each day that it might be the very day He will call you to appear before Him.

When Isaiah saw the Lord, he fell to his knees and confessed his sinfulness. When Moses saw the burning bush and heard the voice of the Lord, he took the shoes from his feet for he knew that he was on holy ground. When John saw the Lord on the Isle of Patmos, he fell as a dead man out of reverence for Christ. Only those with that kind of respect for the Lord will realize their greatest potential in the service of the Lord.

As you go forth into your calling, keep in mind each day that it is not what people say about you that matters; it is what God sees and says about your ministry that counts. He will honor you labor of love and steadfast devotion on the day you appear before Him. Keep yourself committed to Him, to His Word, to His will, and to His calling in your life whether in public or private until you meet Him. Yes, this creates a kind of fear, or we might better call it respect, for the ministry He has given to us.

One thing you discover about Paul is the way he always sought to have others alongside him in his ministry. I believe Paul was interested in held accountable to the Lord by having other servants of God with him as he traveled to serve as accountability partners. Christians have a deep respect for Billy Graham. As a global evangelist for Christ, he never had a single charge of malfeasance against him. That cannot be said of many other evangelist and preachers who have notable ministries. One reason Graham was able to maintain his purity is the fact that he and his team agreed from day one that they would always hold each other accountable. Money would be handled by outside auditors and each team member agreed to never be in a room or even an elevator alone with a woman. Paul seems to have had that same attitude. Larry, pull around you trust men of God to help hold you accountable in all matters of purity and devotion.

There is yet another motivating factor that is important in being a true and faithful servant of God. Note next…

II. The Love of God

In 2 Corinthians 5:13-14 Paul writes, “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”

Paul reveals a second source of inspiration - it is the love of Christ. In the preceding verses Paul mentioned three amazing things:

(1) Amazing Golgotha, where Jesus died for our sins

Paul mentioned the cross. In another passage Paul says, "God forbid that I should boast, except in the Cross." The love that Jesus revealed to Paul from the cross never departed from Paul's ministry. When the way gets tough for you. When people are barking at you about something they don't like. When the days are long and you are tired and ready to give up, remember the cross of Christ.

(2) Amazing Grave, where Jesus rose from the dead

Paul was motivated by the resurrection of Jesus. He saw how much God loved us - so much that Jesus died for our sins and rose for our justification. As the world could not hold Jesus down, the world cannot hold you down either. You have the risen Lord in you! Live in the awareness that the living Savior is your constant companion.

(3) Amazing Grace, which sustains every faithful servant

Paul mentions grace in this passage. You see, Larry you were not called because you are such a great guy. God didn't call you because you are better than those He did not call to serve as a vocational minister. You are called because of the grace of God. His loving grace, compels us to serve Him faithfully and fully.

God’s love is seen on the cross where He died for us.

God’s love is seen at the empty tomb where He rose for us.

God’s love is seen in the grace given to all of us when we turn to Him in saving faith.

We do not serve God for position, for a place of employment, or for personal satisfaction. We serve Him because He has called us and His love for us compels us to follow and be faithful.

When I was young, I always misread the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:14. I thought the verse meant that we serve the Lord because we love Him and that compels us to serve. When I became an adult, I learned that it is not my love for Jesus that compels, but rather it is His love for me that compels me. His love for me has sustained me through many trials, troubles and temptations across my years of ministry. If I keep my mind fixed on His love, I can serve Him in love.

Larry, whenever you are tired, troubled, tempted and treated badly, always remember how much Jesus loves you. That remembrance will keep you going in your darkest hours. No matter how difficult the way, remembering His love on the cross for you will help compel you to serve faithfully. Remembering His victory in the resurrection will remind you that He is Lord, that He is with you and that He can win the victory over all enemies. Recalling the grace He has show you by calling you into His family of faith will help you keep on keeping on till He calls you home. Let the Love of Christ compel you to serve till He calls you home.

But, there is one more element to motivate us in the service of our Lord. Note…

III. The Call of God

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 states, “That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

We have been called to the ministry of reconciliation. Interestingly, we are not called to the ministry of condemnation but to a ministry of reconciliation. So often you will hear ministers preach as if they are mad at the world. Jesus was not mad at the world; Jesus loved the world (John 3:16). Almost every Christian, even the youngest among us, can quote John 3:16. It is interesting how few can quote John 3:17. "God sent forth His Son into the world, not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved."

Your job, Larry, is not to straighten out the world. You job is to point the world to Jesus. When He is truly lifted up, He will draw the lost to Himself. Morality is not the answer to man's problem - Jesus is the answer! So often we get caught up in fighting the most recent sinful habit among men, but in doing so we appear to think we are better than those people. Years ago, when I was a teenager, I heard a preacher say, "I am no better than the worst harlot on the streets of New Orleans tonight. I am no better than the Wall Street guru who is stealing money from investors. I am not better than the murderer on death's row. The only difference in me and those people is that I have accepted the grace of God found in Christ." I never forgot that statement. Never become arrogant or proud. Don't become a Pharisee. Yes, call sin by its name but make sure the point of it is to point people to the loving grace of Jesus Christ.

You see, we are God’s representatives. It is as if God is making His appeal through us. Moses stood before the Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go.” But, were the Hebrew people actually Moses’ people? God told Moses to tell the Pharaoh to “Let MY people go!” The people belonged to God. Can you image Aaron saying to Moses, “Moses, these are not your people, they are God’s people.” Moses could have replied, “No, and I am not speaking for myself, I am speaking for God.” Aaron might well have then said, “He looks like Moses, but he sounds like God.” Yes, those of us called to preach and declare God’s Word are not speaking for ourselves – we are speaking for God! We must be careful not to allow our personal feelings to control our ministry and our messages. We are God’s ambassadors. We are God’s representatives. We are to speak His Word and do His work! The pulpit or teaching stand is not a place for a preacher to attack personal enemies or try to get revenge on opponents. He is to preach a message of reconciliation between God and man through Christ.

Larry, Let this inspire you and motivate you to a successful and meaningful lifetime of ministry. You are called to represent the Lord in all you do. To be ordained is to be set apart for the Lord. All Christians ought to live as if their lives are not their own. After all, we were bought with a price – the blood of Jesus was that price. However, the man of God must truly fix this truth in his heart. You are God’s servant – God’s bond servant. Serve Him because He has called you to be set apart for this work.


Larry, as you are ordained tonight, let the Fear of God, the Love of God and the Call of God spur you on to steadfast, sincere, simple, and successful service. Remember always that you must remain humble in order to be used. Peter wrote saying, “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God that in due time He may exalt you, for God blesses the humble but rejects the proud.”

John Bisagno, pastor for many years of First Baptist Church of Houston, tells about a conversation he had when he was just about to finish college. He was talking with his father- in-law, Paul Beck. Dr. Beck had been in the ministry many years, and he was giving John some wise advice. He urged the younger man to stay true to Jesus. He said in his experience that only one out of ten men who start out in the ministry at 21 years of age are still serving the Lord at age 65. Through moral failure, discouragement, or theological error, nine out of ten of those men drop out of the ministry.

Young John Bisagno was shocked by that statement. When he got home, he took his Bible and on a blank page he wrote out the names of two dozen young men he knew who were on fire for Jesus. These men were all in their twenties, and were very committed to serving the Lord. Years later Bisagno gave this sad report: "I am now 53 years old. From time to time as the years have gone by, I've had to turn back to that page in my Bible and cross out a name. I wrote down those 24 names when I was just 20 years of age. Thirty-three years later, there are only three names remaining of the original 24" (Finishing Strong by Steve Farrar. Multnomah, 1995. Pages 5-6).

Larry, if you will keep the Fear of God, the Love of God and the Calling of God fixed in your heart and mind, you can finish strong in God’s work. This is a great day for you and we are all happy to be part of it with you. But, always remember, it is not how you start but how you finish that counts. May God grant you a long and fruitful ministry – and one that remains true till He calls you home.

 Now, let me say one final word to the congregation assembled here to be part of this wonderful occasion. The motivational elements for service that I have presented to Larry tonight are applicable to everyone of us as Christians. You, too, ought to commit to keep these three elements before you heart and mind to serve as prods to spur you on in the service of God. Commit to serve the Lord faithfully and to assist and encourage those God has called to vocational ministry. Paul was able to carry on his ministry because many lay members in churches prayed for him, financially supported him and loved him. As Larry begins his ministry, place him on your prayer list and encourage him along the way. There is a crown to be gained for those who faithfully support God's men who preach and teach God's Word. The same reward Larry can gain, you can gain by your support, prayers, love and faithfulness.