Recently, I came across a verse in Scripture which stood out to me. It isn't some great theological text. Nor is it of a memorable or important verse. In fact, the section in question is actually show in parenthesis by most translators as if it were an after thought that the Apostle Paul just kind of plugged in there. The passage is I Corinthians 16:15, which states: "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints)" (KJV)
When I first read this passage in the good ol' King Jimmy Version, I had to laugh at the choice of words. Addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. The English Standard Version simply says "that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints".
But then I got to thinking about the powerful word picture that is painted by the word addicted. Our world is full of addicts. It seems nearly anything can be an addiction. Smoking, drinking, porn, food, media, sweets and even exercise. Some of my friends accuse of me being a coffee addict and their assessment is probably not entirely untrue. But here Paul describes a man and his family that had addicted themselves to service of the saints.
What is an addicted person like? By definition it means that their life is no longer their own. It is under the mastery of something else. An addict no longer calls the shots. He does what his master demands of him. He is bound to the object of his addiction to the point that is almost impossible to break that bond. Eventually, it gets to the point where the addict's life is completely and thoroughly controlled by something other them himself. Addiction is a powerful thing.
Most addictions are bad. They rob us of the loving lordship of Jesus Christ and bring us under the bondage of a spiritual idol. But what would it look like if we addicted ourselves to the service of the saints?
In his epistle, Paul commends Stephanas and his family for devoting themselves to serving the Body of Christ. Here was an entire family that had commit themselves to laboring for others. Paul uses some very strong language to describe their dedication of this ministry. He says that they addicted themselves. How addicted are you to serving and ministering to your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you fit the profile of person addicted to serving others?
It always breaks my heart to see spiritual siblings strive against each other instead of laboring to serve each other. It also breaks my heart to hear people of talk of ministry as if it's something reserved for professionals. However, we see that in the early Church, ministering to others was something that average church-going laymen did.
Something I've been convicted about lately is my attitude when I go to church. Do I simply want to get blessed and ministered to spiritual or am devoted to blessing and ministering to others spiritually? Is service something others owe me or something I owe them?
In short, we all need to follow the example of Stephanas and his family. We need to addict ourselves to the service of the saints in a real and dedicated way.