In the business world, the bottom line is the last line of a financial statement that shows profit and loss. It is about whether the company is earning or losing money. And, as they say, the bottom line is the bottom line.
Every field of life and labor has a bottom line. In business, it is making money, earning profits, and increasing revenue. In education, it is passing tests, making grades, or earning a degree. In sports, it is winning games, awards, and championships. Everything has a bottom line.
What is the bottom line of Christian ministry?
You would think the answer to this question would be assumed. A ground ball. A no-brainer. Unfortunately, many pastors and churches suffer from an identity crisis, a lack of gospel mission, and misplaced priorities. We need to get back to the basics.
In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handing the word of truth” (ESV).
The bottom line of Christian ministry is to please God in everything you do. Ultimately, the only thing that truly matters is whether or not you will be able to end your ministry by hearing the Lord say, “Well, done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).
God pleasing ministry requires personal earnestness.
Paul instructs, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved” (2 Tim. 2:15a). Christian ministry deserves your best. You should live and minister with the blood-earnest conviction that if it bears God’s name, it deserves your best. The goal is to present yourself to God as one approved. God is the final, ultimate judge of the success or failure of your ministry. He is our target audience.
Note that Paul did not challenge Timothy to be better than anybody else. He says, “Do your best…” You don’t have to compare yourself with others, compete with others, or come in ahead of others. Just give God your best – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. If you give God your best, it will sustain you when the work is difficult, frustrating, and tiresome. And you will be an approved workman.
God pleasing ministry requires ministerial excellence.
As Christian workmen, we must be on guard against ministerial sloth. Ministers often fail not because of a lack of giftedness, opportunity, or resources. We fail many times because we are lazy about the things of God. Godly living, humble service, wise leadership, unconditional love, steadfast endurance, sound doctrine, intercessory prayer is hard work.
Paul exhorts Timothy to be “a worker who has not need to be ashamed.” The concern is about shame before God, not man. You can be a smashing success with man and a horrible failure with God. You can be a famous minister and yet stand before the Lord and have to introduce yourself (Matt. 7:21-23). So live and teach as a workman that can present his finished work to God without shame.
God-pleasing ministry requires faithful exposition.
The pastor’s primary and central work is stated in 2 Timothy 4:2a: “preach the word.” The imperative is all-important: “preach.” So is the object: “the word.” We must not preach personal opinion, trendy theology, political viewpoints, motivational speeches, self-help advice, popular psychology, or sociological theories. We are called to preach the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. To do this faithfully we must be “rightly handing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15c).
God’s word is marked “Handle With Care.” The way you handle God’s word is the way God will handle you. Proverbs 30:5-6 says: “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” So labor not to mishandle God’s word. Cut it straight. Don’t add to the word. Tell the truth on God! Fully give yourself to diligently explain and exhort the truth of scripture to the glory of God.