In 2 Timothy 2:5, St. Paul writes, “Anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”
Take notice of the fact that no athlete—to whom Paul compares the servant of God—makes up the rules of the game. They are pre-established by the authorities—with no gray areas. One must run strictly according to these rules or else the judge of the game will disqualify him, even if he is the first to cross the finish line.
In His Word, God has set particular rules and principles for how we must conduct ourselves in light of the calling with which He called us. These principles are fixed, firm and unbending.
The principles are the lighthouse keeping us on the right course. No matter how huge or strong a ship may be, it must move based on the lighthouse’s instruction. The lighthouse never moves—the ship must move.
Navigating the Course
In the same way, the guidelines God gave us in His Word on how to live and serve Him are never going to change based on man’s traditions or compromising. We are the ships, the ones that must steer our course in agreement with His unchanging principles. If not, we are in danger of running aground.
Because of this, we must stop often along the way as we serve God and ask ourselves, Am I doing the work of God according to the instruction and guidelines He has given in His Word?
God is more concerned with how this race is run—in integrity and honesty before Him—than about our achievements or how great the ministry looks. The end never justifies the means.
Our service for God must not follow this course of just getting the job done. We cannot be careless in how we live our lives or serve in the ministry. For the result of all that we do to be pleasing to the Lord, the means must be spiritual; otherwise, it will not last for eternity. Instead, it will be counted among the hay, wood and stubble Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 3:10–13, saying,
“Each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”
May we be wise to take Paul’s warning and be careful how we build. Many today are active in performing their ministries, but in the final analysis, all might be burned into a pile of ash because of the way it was accomplished.
Before the world, the ministry may seem impressive, yet when God judges it, He sees what it is really constructed of. If little or nothing was done in the power of the Holy Spirit or for the glory of God, it does not please Him, and it will not last.
Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and director of the nonprofit organization Gospel for Asia, has written more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missions, an international bestseller with more than 4 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia is a nonprofit organization serving the “least of these” in Asia since its beginning in 1979, often in places where no one else is serving. Gospel for Asia supports national workers who are serving as the hands and feet of Christ by ministering to people’s needs so they can understand the love of God for them for the first time. Gospel for Asia is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program, tens of thousands of children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.
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