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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.”—Colossians 4:10–11 (NKJV)
Years ago I heard a speaker use the term “the ministry of presence.” It has a beautiful sound of comfort.
In the beginning of Job’s tremendous trials when he suffered great losses in his family and wealth, three of his friends came and sat with him on the ground for seven days and did not open their mouths (Job 2:13). They did more for Job in their silence and compassion than they ever could have with words.
God is our wonderful counselor (Isaiah 9:6), comforter, and friend. He often works and shows Himself to us through His loyal followers as Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as the comforter. In the Greek, the Holy Spirit’s name means, “One who comes alongside to help.”
The Lord works through the ministry of presence, and it’s powerful. We can, and should, too! How can we do this? It’s simple! We can do things like pay someone a short visit, make a phone call, send a text, write a note of encouragement, come alongside someone who lost a loved one, or visit someone in a hospital or nursing home. Simply listening and having a heart of compassion is what the Lord would have us do.
Jesus called His disciples and true followers “friends.” In John 15:15 (NKJV) He said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
James 2:23 (NKJV, emphasis added) tells us of a wonderful compliment given to Abraham! It states, “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.”
Paul acknowledges Aristarchus as a true friend. He was a fellow prisoner and servant. Like Silas, when imprisoned with Paul in Philippi, they prayed, worshipped, and watched God minister to them together. Having a wonderful friend in life makes a big difference. Maybe you’ve heard someone quote this: “Grief shared is grief halved. Joy shared is joy doubled.”
Being able to comfort one another is a vital part of any relationship. To serve others this way is a great work of the Lord.
DIG: How would you rate yourself as a loyal and faithful friend? Would others say that about you?
DISCOVER: Do you have people in your life that you could go to for encouragement and comfort?
DO: Practice the ministry of presence with someone today. Be a good listener with a caring heart.