The conversation in personal ministry must proceed from the Word and Spirit of God. To minister the way of the Lord to another person, one must: (1) pursue the Word, (2) pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit, and (3) present the Lord’s way as revealed by the Word and the Spirit. Jesus promised,
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63).
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26).
As a believer reads and studies the Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he will be accumulating a treasury of life and truth from which to draw. As one seeks the leading of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will bring forth truth from the Word, which one will have been studying and learning from in obedience. The believer will then have both the truth and the wisdom to give to another person who is seeking the way of the Lord.
Pursue the Word
The believer’s personal study of the Word is vital. The more of the Word one knows and applies in one’s own life, the more prepared one will be to assist another in the way of the Lord. Out of the reservoir of living the Word of God through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the believer will have both the mercy and truth of God to minister to another in need. Furthermore, he will be able to lead another person into the pursuit of the Word for himself.
Biblical ministry begins with the Word of God. This does not mean a quick and easy answer from the Bible, but a sought-for, lived-through application of Scripture. One who ministers God’s grace to another believer must continually pursue the Word and encourage that person to do likewise. We cannot stress too strongly the importance of pursuing the Word of God to minister to problems of living. We encourage those who desire to help others to go to this source with confidence. No other way has such power for transformation.
Because of the importance of the Bible above all other sources of help, we do not attempt to give specific answers for specific problems. A specific system may shed some light and give some direction. But, any specific plan may also stand in the way of going directly to the Lord and His Word. If a method of direction is spelled out, a person may use that rather than diligently pursuing the Word and seeking the face of the Lord on behalf of the person in need of help. Believers are to go directly to the Word of God and to the Lord who will open the Word and make application.
Mercy and Truth
Presenting the way of the Lord as revealed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit includes both the manner of presentation and the content of conversation. The conversation of one-to-one ministry calls for a combination of mercy and truth and of listening and speaking.
Because God desires to draw persons closer to Himself through love, personal ministry must be given in love. Yet, since God’s love includes truth as well, all biblical conversation should reflect that characteristic, too.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man (Proverbs 3:3-4).
The Bible does not teach a methodology of merely reflecting a person’s feelings, nor one of shallow sentimentality, nor one of autocratic severity. The Bible teaches, through countless illustrations and principles, that there must be a combination of mercy and truth.
Believers are called minister according to God’s mercy and speak according of God’s truth. God molds people with hands of love. Though truth requires change, God in His mercy never works more rapidly than an individual can tolerate at one time. The Lord is gentle and compassionate. Spiritual encouragers will want to reflect the Lord in the loving care of an individual. Within a godly environment of mercy and concern and with the sure Word of truth, believers even in the midst of personal problems may venture to learn, change, and grow.
As one ministers according to the grace of God, he will combine mercy and truth. If one naturally tends to stress mercy, he will also need to be ready to exhort according to truth. On the other hand, if one naturally tends to stress exhortation, he should seek to be merciful.
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He taught truth to Martha, wept with Mary, and urged Martha to a greater level of faith. In aptly joining mercy with truth, patience with exhortation, and listening with teaching, believers who minister to fellow believers must continually rely upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom.
(From PAL V4N3)