Relax. Their’s was not an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Stephanas and his family were not hooked on some destructive substance like nicotine, or nefarious activity like gambling. Actually, they were addicted to ministry! Paul reported, “They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15 KJV).
At first glance, we might accuse Stephanas of being a workaholic. You know the type. These are people who drive themselves into the ground because of their overwhelming compulsion to work for the sake of work. Stephanas was not a workaholic. His addiction to ministry was fueled by love — love for God and for God’s people.
This is more clearly seen when you understand the meaning behind the words translated “addiction” (devoted, committed), and “ministry” (service). In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, John MacArthur noted, “One of the surest ways we can serve Christ is to serve the saints on His behalf” (Matthew 25:34-40). That was Stephanas and family. They did what they did out of genuine love for the Lord and His people.
Having pastored for a number of years, I have noticed two types of people in church: those who live to be served, and those who live to serve. The household of Stephanas lived to serve. That does not mean ministry was their profession. There is no indication that they served on the pastoral staff in Corinth. They were members of the church who were fully committed to serving their fellow believers in the Body of Christ.
In doing research for this article, I found very little written about Stephanas. I have several books on biblical characters and heroes of the faith. Strangely enough, Stephanas was mentioned in passing in only a few. How ironic that a man pointed out by Paul for service is overlooked. Maybe that is why, at the conclusion of his letter, Paul reminded the Corinthian church of the family of Stephanas and their devotion to ministry. Maybe they had even forgotten.
Sometimes that’s the way it goes. People who give their lives in service and ministry to others can go without much recognition. But if they have the heart of a Stephanas, it really doesn’t matter. With or without recognition, they will continue to serve faithfully.
I may be describing you in this article. Maybe you are one of the faithful few (the 20% who do 80% of the work) addicted to serving in ministry. It may be a visible ministry of leadership. It may be an invisible ministry of helps. Regardless, you serve day in and day out because of your love for God and His people. You stay at it because you are following the example of the One who did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45).
In case you have not heard it lately, let me say Thank You! Thank you for your devotion to ministry. Remember that nothing done for the Lord is ever forgotten, or goes unrewarded. A crown awaits you in heaven. Just ask Stephanas, the man whose name means Crowned.
This Sunday at RLA --
I am looking forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9:30AM as we continue our series on ETERNITY. Last week we learned that God has put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Everyone will spend forever somewhere. One of those “somewhere” places is Heaven. In Sunday’s message we are going to talk about this place called Heaven.
I encourage you to bring someone to church who needs to hear the message. I pray they will respond and make Heaven their eternal home.
See you Sunday!