Ministering to the House or to God?by Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
These two portions of the Word show us two different attitudes that are displayed before God. Before we look into these matters using the Word with the shining of God's light, I want the brothers and sisters to know what are our responsibilities and what is God's continual focus in the church in this age.
Brothers and sisters, let me ask something very frankly. Are we really ministering to the believers or to Him? Is the focus of our work really on the work or on the Lord? There is a great difference. Ministering to the house is extremely different from ministering to Jesus Christ. We can see many today ministering and serving, but they are only in the outer court. They have not come near to the table. Oh, many are ministering to the house and not to the Lord. The ministering that the Lord is afterthe ministering that He is continually afteris to minister to Him. His desire is not for us to do His work. Laboring is certainly important, plowing the fields is important, and feeding the cattle is also important, but the Lord does not look at these things. Rather, He is after the ministering to God and the serving of God. He wants His slaves to minister to Him and to serve Him. Oh, how happy are those who are able to minister to Him.
Now I want to mention the difference between these two kinds of ministering. Let us search these two portions of the Word. We are not here to expound the Scriptures. The expounding of the Scriptures has become the trap to many spiritual believers. There is really no matter that has so damaged the believers as the expounding of the Scriptures. I am speaking of the spiritual believers here. We always assume that as long as we can find two similar verses in the Scriptures, then we can expound them. No. There is no such thing! Today we will first learn a lesson and then study the lesson. Before we study the lesson, we must first learn the lesson and know how to minister to God. We must first meet the One who wrote the Book before we can read the words. We must first know Him before we can know His Book. If we put the Bible as the top priority, we are failures. Therefore, from the beginning we want to declare that we are not here to expound the Scriptures; rather, we are here to learn a lesson. As such we are using these two portions of the Word to proclaim what we should have experienced and what we have experienced.
Ezekiel 44:11, 15-16 says, "Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them....But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God: they shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge." You see that verse 11 is very different from verses 15 and 16. There is a basic difference between them. Verse 11 speaks of ministering to the house. Verses 15 and 16 speak of ministering to "Me"that is, the ministering to Jehovah. In Hebrew, the same word for ministering is used in both of these verses. According to God there were two groups of Levites. Although all were Levites belonging to God and to one tribe, the majority among them were only worthy to minister to the house. Yet there was a small minority, who were not only Levites but also the sons of Zadok, who could minister to "Me"that is, minister to Jehovah.
Brothers and sisters, do you know what it is to minister to the house and what it is to minister to Jehovah? Do you know the difference between these two kinds of ministering? Many say that there is nothing better than ministering to the house! They seem to say, "You see me doing my best to make my work expand, to strive for the kingdom, to work in the Lord's name, to bear the responsibility to help the church, and to earnestly endeavor to be the slave of the brothers. I do my best to render help to the brothers and sisters. I rush about to different places so as to make the church flourish and the work prosper." Many feel that it would be wonderful if they could save sinners and ask them to join the church, thereby causing the church to grow in numbers. But I say this is merely ministering to the house. As far as God is concerned, besides this kind of ministering, there is another kind of ministering. In God's eyes, not only is there the ministry to the house; there is also a better ministry. We are not only ministering before the Lord but also to the Lord. Here there is not only the ministering in the house, but there is also the ministering before the table. We are not only ministering before the Lord; rather, we are ministering to the Lord. This is a very different matter. These two are extremely different from each other. There is no similarity between them.
If you know the difference here, you will see what the Lord is after and what He has always been seeking. Brothers and sisters, please do not be mistaken. To minister to the Lord does not mean that you neglect the house. Rather, what I am saying is that there is not only ministering to the house, but there is something deeper, which is ministering to the Lord. There are many who only know how to minister to the house and not to the Lord.
Let me ask you a few questions. Brothers, what are you preaching the gospel for? You desire to help prosper the work, but what is that really for? You rush to different places to labor, but what is that really for? I especially want to speak to the brothers and sisters who are co-workers. What are you really doing here? Do you hope that more can hear the gospel? I only mention the good things. I will not mention those things which are of a lower standard. No doubt it is good to preach the gospel. It is also good to save the sinners and help the brothers and sisters make progress. No doubt you have done your best to be very faithful to preach and perfect. However, your eyes are only set on the brothers and sisters. This is ministering to the house. Since you are ministering before people, you are ministering to them and not to the Lord. This does not mean that those who minister to the Lord will not do these things. Those who minister to the Lord will also do these things, but their one goal is to be for the Lord. They treasure men absolutely for the Lord's sake. Hence, their focus is not only on men. If you come to the Lord's presence, focusing only on Him, you will spontaneously be able to minister to the brothers also. This is a big difference.
In the following sections, we will see the basic difference between ministering to the Lord and ministering to the house. Then we will see how to minister to the Lord and how to minister to the house. Finally, we will see the requirements of one who ministers to the Lord. These are three matters we will mention.
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