Sacrificial Self-Giving . . .

. . . is at the heart of Christ’s ministry and consequently all Christian ministry … which … is a participation in his ongoing ministry.

So writes Stephen Seamands in his book Ministry in the Image of God – The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service. Continuing, Seamands says:

Certainly, this is a neglected emphasis in current teaching and preparation for ministry, especially in North America. Can you imagine an advertisement in a Christian magazine urging those considering preparation for ministry to choose a particular college or seminary because ‘we will prepare you to die’? In an age dedicated to self-fulfillment and enamored with success, who wants to hear about sacrifice and self-giving?

Contrast this to the preparation for ministry currently taking place in the underground seminaries of the Chinese house churches. ‘To escape from the police,’ a house-church leader told an American pastor, ‘we teach our students how to jump out of a two-story window so they won’t break their legs when they hit the ground.’ In their seminaries, it is assumed that being in ministry will involve suffering and persecution, perhaps imprisonment or even death.

Continuing again:

Though sacrifice and self-giving in ministry may have been emphasized more in past eras than they are now, because of the nature of human sinfulness they are notions resisted in every age. We often define sin in terms of outward actions contrary to God’s law… However, lawlessness is not the essence of sin. According to scripture, sin lies beneath our actions.

Sin is ultimately rooted in an inward attitude, a deep seated self-centeredness, an evil heart out of which sinful actions flow (cf Mark 7:21-23).

This self-orientation, so deeply entrenched in every one of us, is threatened by sacrificial self-giving and opposes it at all costs. We need, then, to come to terms with our self-centeredness and God’s remedy before the Trinitarian pattern can be realized in our ministry. (Seamands, pp. 82-84)

Or in our relationships, homes, jobs and churches!

Not the most pleasant topic to think on, but it sure might explain why you are REALLY having so much trouble in your marriage, and in your family & extended family, on the job, among your friends, and even in your church, huh? It too often explains my troubles!

Holy Spirit, help us embrace Who You are as revealed in Jesus, that we might know who we are in Him and experience His exact Sacrificial Self-giving with all people and things!

~ Timothy Brassell

6 comments so far

  1. John Geerlings on

    Thanks Tim

    Much needed and mind renovating. May the Spirit bust open my (our) own blocked minds and reveal the reality that has come. This little blog has impacted me in a profound way. Suffering for the gospel is only possible in the power of God; my works do not cut it. It is His grace and purpose given to us all (humanity) before time so that we do not have to live in my (our) own death of self-sufficiency. I need to wake up! 2 Timothy 1 says it all. jg

  2. Don Hussell on

    Thanks Tim: Much needed to us pastors when His church gets smaller and our image is affected.Interesting comment that I heard Paul Young make at the conference.Sometimes God uses us to destroy something and at the same time destory something in us……Don

  3. Bonnie Fairchild on

    Tim —
    I can relate to your quote: “Sin is ultimately rooted in an inward attitude, a deep-seated self-centeredness”.

    In the vernacular we may re-phrase this to be “it is all about me.”

    Self-centeredness is very transparent for us to see in others, but for us to become aware of our own beam of self-preservation is a gift from God.

    Bonnie

  4. tjbrassell on

    Hey John! Thanks for your comments! In His grace we are all awake AND waking up! What Self-giving He began in us, in Himself, He will finish! We sleepyheads can be much encouraged!

    Brother Don – You are welcome! Jesus has a way of making profound statements like that through his little boy Paul! Ha-Ha! Thanks for sharing that!

    Dear Bonnie – “for us to become aware of our own beam of self-preservation is a gift from God.” Wow!!! So God’s exposing of our sin is actually a gift, right? Expose us Father, Expose us!! In the grace of the Spirit we are recognizing it is worth the initial humiliation!! Help us Jesus! 🙂

  5. Charles on

    All these coments remind me of the statements recorded “if your right eye offends you pluck-it out.” It seems because we are self-centered we can’t see the beam in our own eye.
    My most recent medical experience tells me that unless we see the means of eradicating pain as “worthwhile” we won’t change at least not of our own accord.
    Recently I went to the dentist to have a tooth refilled. I didn’t do this right away but the pain of a constant tooth-ache sent me. The pain made it worth going but had I gone when the filling actually came out it would have been less costly. I wasn’t going to the dentist because I had been serveral times before and there was no experiential benefit and I was paying for this. So I stopped going.
    Now the dentist gave me a couple of options root-canal or extraction because the tooth could not be refilled. I chose extraction because the it was less costly than root canal potentially more painful and I only had one day off from work. If I’d only gotten that tooth refilled when the cavity came out. I am more self-centered than I thought probably won’t end soon either but now I know of another blind spot. I really appreciated everyones coments. Sorry if my comment rambled.

  6. tjbrassell on

    Hey Charles! Thanks for participating in the discussion with such openness! As your situation demonstrates, our self-centered, self-protective, and self-sustaining mode of existence IS the “beam” in our eye and the “bad tooth” in the mouth of our lives! Ha-Ha!

    When rejecting the Triune God in our self-centeredness, we chose the crucifixory experience of living! Thank God it was killed in the crucifixion of His Son’s life, death, and Life again, and these deaths (of every type) we are dying are leading to Life in His Resurrection and Ascension!

    Peace, Love and Blessings!


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