Ministry has become the exercise of power. Minister, both in politics and religion, is now an aggregator of privileges. But ministers like these can’t call God as a witness to their service, as does this servant:
For God, whom I serve with my spirit in [telling] the good news about His Son, is my witness …
Romans 1:9 HCSB
In the original language, the term for “serve” has a wide meaning, of worship or work, of praise or proclamation of the message. The context in which it appears determines the type of religious service. In Matthew 4:10, for example, it is generally translated as “worship.” Here, the service seems to be announcing the Good News of Christ (as in 15:16).
This is important to note because we tend to make a rather severe distinction between our service of meeting with the church and that of daily proclaiming salvation to those outside of Christ. Obviously, each moment has its peculiarities, but the two constitute service, two aspects of the same spiritual reality of the Christian.
Paul declares that although this service is performed in the world, among people, with journeys here and there, enduring dangers and difficulties, it is done “with my spirit,” indicating the interior nature of Christianity. Faith is not a ritual. Every action springs from the inner person, whence comes the source of motivations which please God, of mental disposition and the deep consciousness of gratitude for divine grace which calls and moves.
In fact, the phrase calls God as witness to the sincerity and zeal which Paul has toward the readers and to his desire to see them and to impart to them some spiritual benefit. The object of his faith is serving God. It is God whom Paul wants to impress and please. He always acts in order that God, and not man, may think well of him.
Be the service worship or work, prayer always accompanies it, as in the remainder of the verse cited above.
May we all be able to say with Paul that it is God whom we serve in our spirit in the proclamation of the Good News of Christ.