“Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” (2 Corinthians 1:24)
God has not called his pastors to exercise lordship or dominion over his church, but God gave gifts to the church and called men to preach to help the joy of God’s people. We need to have that perspective of the ministry. Preachers are called to aid and help and promote our joy in the Lord by dispensing to the church the word of God.
Preachers are called to be “helpers” or “fellow workers or co-companions in working towards the same goal”. What is the goal that the ministry has been called to help us towards? Your joy. We should never view the ministry as adversarial against God’s people. God gave gifts to the church for the edification, the building up, of the body of Christ; never for the tearing down (Eph. 4:11-16). Instead, ministers have been divinely called by God to be a fellow worker with you to maximize your joy in the kingdom of God.
There is an intimacy and connection of all the church together as a body that makes us feel each other’s pain and joy. We “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Rom. 12:15). Every part of a body feels pain when one part is aching, and that is the structure that God set up his church as a body. That intimacy of connection is something that the entire church has, but it is also profoundly felt in the role of the ministry in serving that body.
The joy of the preacher is tied up in the joy of the church. “My joy is the joy of you all” (2 Cor. 2:3). Paul desired to remain in this body “for your [the church’s] furtherance and joy of faith” (Phil. 1:25). John’s joy would be made full by being able to see the church again face to face (2 John 12). We desire the church to know how much we love them and seek their good: “That ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” (2 Cor. 2:4) Our comfort is determined by the church’s comfort: “Therefore, we were comforted in your comfort.” (2 Cor. 7:15). We live and breathe, we live and die based upon the health of the church: “Ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.” (2 Cor. 7:3).
How it is then that God-called ministers can help and aid and hopefully maximize the joy of God’s people in the church? It’s by simply fulfilling their calling to “preach the word”. The word of God should be the greatest source of joy for the child of God in this world because it’s the love story of our Husband Christ to his bride. The word of God gives us the beautiful story of salvation by sovereign grace that should be the greatest source of joy and peace in our hearts. Jesus himself said that “these things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). The “these things” that were spoken unto the disciples were the word of God. Since all of the scriptures are the divinely inspired and “God-breathed” word of God, we need to view all the scriptures in this same light. That God inspired and gave us his word (his divinely God-breathed love story to his bride) so that his bride would have a fullness of joy in relishing just how much she is loved by her Husband.
The word of God is written for the fullest maximation of your joy here in this world, that your joy may be full. Jesus already said that in John 15:11 and the Apostle John reiterated that thought in his epistle as well: “These things we write unto you, that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:4). John desired to help the church’s joy be full, and he believed the best means he could give them to maximize that joy was by simply dispersing the word of God to them – the intended source of their fullest joy. Does it not incite joy in your soul to read the message of the word of God of how we are ruined, condemned sinners but still God loved us enough to send his only Son to die for us? That should make your joy in your heart and soul so perfectly full. When we believe the good news of that message, we can then “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).
John also said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). The greatest joy for the pastor is for his flock to love and follow the truth of the word of God. If that obedience to God’s word gives John and pastors so much joy, can you imagine how much joy it gives God to see his children voluntarily walk in truth? When the church views the word of God as the source of fullest joy and read, study, and meditate upon it and desire to hear the word preached by the helpers of their joy. God is certainly honored and joyful when we view the word of God in such a high and joyful way.
(Originally written in September 2019)