Doing Something Worthwhile|
Q. My wife and I started an online ministry similar to yours after we retired from full time ministry. We enjoy it. But, we can't travel to teach bible studies or visit people in hospitals like we used to due to our own health issues and gas costs among other things. This annoys some people, but we don't want to make excuses for ourselves. Any suggestions?
Congratulations on your new ministry! I suspect that most people truly don't realize how much time it takes to be involved in an "email" or an online ministry.
For example, it often takes us between 6-12 hours daily to research, write and answer questions, and that doesn't include the time we spend reading about relevant subjects and posting the answers to the website. Nevertheless, it's a rewarding ministry that we wouldn't give up for the world.
If some people misunderstand the nature of our ministry we can't help that. Each person must "work out his own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12). Charles Ryrie notes this means we must stand on our own feet, with a sense of human frailty but knowing that God is behind us (pg. 1890, Ryrie Study Bible).
What God Requires
The Lord is loving and kind and doesn't really expect us to do more than we can handle.
"What does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, NLT).
Another verse which details our boundaries is Micah 6:8:
"O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."
Carry each other's Burdens
In Galatians 6 Paul tells us to "carry each other's burdens" (v. 2). It is a legitimate call to help those who are in dire need and circumstances.
Today this might look like helping those at a rescue mission, or helping those who need their houses rebuilt due to a hurricane or an earthquake. Perhaps it means donating food or financial aid to groups like Samaritan's Purse or World Vision. Each person must decide what he or she can do. Certainly, as we grow older our choices become fewer and fewer.
Carrying our own Load
But, Galatians 6:5 notes that each one should "carry his own load." These are problems in life that we should handle ourselves. We are not supposed to enable people in their weaknesses. The New Living Translation says "For we are each responsible for our own conduct" (v. 5).
Conduct we shouldn't Support
What are "weaknesses" or "conduct" we shouldn't support? Probably things like temper flare-ups, addictions, certain emotional needs and other things best handled by the individual. Take note that Galatians 5:19 lists the deeds of the flesh. These are things like hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, drunkenness (& drugs), divisions, and envy.
Sowing what we Reap
These emotional things probably have to do with sowing what we reap - because the following verses in Galatians tell us,
"God is not mocked, for whatever one sows that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life" (v. 7-8).
The New Living Translation is helpful here, too. It says, "Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit (v. 8).
Paul concludes by saying, "let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap…So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (v. 9-10).
Setting Priorities Straight
In other words, we need to set our priorities straight. We encourage all of our readers to study the Word for themselves, to especially get involved in a local church where they can meet with believers face-to-face and "not forsake our own assembling together" (Heb. 10:25), to attend a home bible study where they are accountable to others, and to use our online ministry as a supplement to their personal study.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).