Not To Be Ministered Unto – Part 4
The Happy Way
I am persuaded that the happiness of our lives depends enormously on the spirit in which we come afresh into the world each day. If we come to be ministered unto, we shall soon be fretting and inwardly fuming. But if we come NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, but to minister, it will be very different. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It is happier to minister than to be ministered unto. And it is far nobler: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:27).
A Word of Caution
Now for a word of caution. Our text does not say that we are to be like Stoics, that whatever happens we are not to feel it. Annoyances, rubs, disappointments— the things that we have been talking about—of course we feel them. (They would be of no use to us if we didn’t feel them.) But they need not distress us. Someone has said: “You cannot prevent a crow from alighting on your head, but you can prevent its building a nest in your hair.” When we want to be ministered unto, we harbor a grievance, we exaggerate it, we give way to it, we let it build its nest and hatch its mischievous eggs. But when we desire NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, but to minister, we do not harbor the grievance, we give it no welcome, we pay it scant attention, we are too occupied to trouble about it. Let us be like Jesus. He was always too busy thinking of others, and ministering to them, to concern Himself as to whether He was being ministered unto or not. One sovereign remedy against touchiness is to be busy caring for your neighbor.
Another Word of Caution
Again our text does not say that we are not to be ministered unto. It does not say that we are always to be slighted, never courted; that we are never to meet with success; that no reward and prizes are ever to come our way; that we are to go about the world looking for injustice, insults, and ill-treatment. Nothing of the kind. There is no harm in being ministered unto. The Son of Man was often ministered unto, and He appreciated it very much. We shall often be ministered unto; perhaps all the more if we do not expect it. The harm is in always to be ministered unto instead of to minister: in wanting to be ministered unto: in seeking it, setting our heart upon wanting it, and in being disappointed, chagrined, ruffled, and cross if we are not ministered unto.
We have lingered long talking about this failing—THE WISH TO BE MINISTERED UNTO—because it is so prevalent, its consequences are so sad, and chiefly because so many of us who are habitually guilty are unconscious of the fact.
Self Must Die
And now for a few brief words concerning the remedy. Be well assured that at the bottom of the trouble, and in all its ramifications, is SELF. And this old enemy Self must be mortified—put to death. We must give Self no quarter. “I send you my best wishes for your birthday. I hope you are dead,” wrote one. And she was right. “I seem spoiled for everything but to see people die,” wrote another. And she was right. SELF MUST DIE.
With this fact in view, in what a different light must we regard NOT BEING MINISTERED UNTO. Welcome disappointment! Welcome hardship! Welcome slight! Welcome thorns and pricks! These may all be turned to excellent account. To fail in getting what we want may be a piece of good fortune! To be thwarted may be so good for us! To have our wishes crossed may be positive blessing! To be trampled upon may be a splendid thing! For every time we are not ministered unto, a fresh opportunity is given for Self to die! And the person who snubs us may well be regarded as a friend for administering to our arch enemy—SELF—a stout knock on the head! SELF MUST BE MORTIFIED. For it is only as Self dies that we can live the happy and victorious life.
Christ Must Live
But it is not enough that Self dies. Something else must happen. Christ must live. Self dying—Christ living. And it is in proportion as Self dies in us that Christ can live in us. Let us not then be afraid of death—death to the Self-life. It is only as Self dies and Christ lives in us that we shall be able to come fresh into the world each day “NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, but to minister,” and in our tiny measure to give our lives, to sacrifice OURSELVES, for the glory of our God and the good of our fellows.