I have been preaching through the book of Colossians and the passage of scripture above is what we covered last night in our service. As I was preparing to preach from this text, I felt different feelings all at once. I felt conviction as I read of the apostle Paul’s selfless devotion to those that God had called him to serve in ministry. I felt a sense of wonder at the fact that a man who endured so much suffering could also walk in great joy. I was humbled yet again at the realization of God’s grace in that I did not choose Him but He chose me. I was encouraged based on the fact that Christ is in me and we have this earnest expectation of the glory that is to come. There is so much powerful truth contained in just a few verses here.
My following thoughts are not meant to be exhaustive concerning this text. What I would like to do however is focus on verses 28 and 29 and share with you how much of a blessing they have been to me. These two verses serve as part of a biblical framework for how I preach and lead as a pastor in the local church. I have read this passage over and over again and every time I read it I am convicted, instructed, and encouraged. I am convicted because Paul’s aim was to proclaim Christ and Christ alone. One of the pitfalls of ministry is to proclaim something or someone other that Christ and His glorious work of salvation. There is a very real temptation to promote ourselves instead of exalting the person and work of Jesus Christ in our preaching. We struggle with wanting to be popular, we want people to invite us back to preach again, we want big meetings, and we are even tempted to water down the message a bit so that the offerings will still be substantial. We must not bend to this pressure! The greatest fruit that we will see in ministry will be in the faithful proclamation of Jesus Christ.
I am instructed because there is a method of preaching laid out by Paul. He said that they both warn and teach so that they could present everyone mature in Christ. In warning God’s people we lovingly point out that which is to be avoided according to the scriptures. Those who are spiritually immature and the spiritually mature alike are extremely susceptible to the deception of Satan and the lure of this world. In our preaching the truth of God’s word, we should be faithful to point out those things that can lead people away from the hope of the gospel. Warning however is just one part of the equation according to Paul. There is also the element of teaching. In teaching we boldly point to what we should be maintaining and moving towards. With both warning and teaching sound doctrine we are not encouraging humanistic behavior modification, but we are constantly holding forth the truth of the gospel and who we are as a result of that.
Finally, I am encouraged. Paul points us to his goal in ministry and where he gets the strength to carry it out. His goal is the spiritual maturity of those that God had called him to lead by serving them. We must ask ourselves if we share the same goal concerning those whom we are serving in ministry. Paul knew that he was not the one who caused growth in the faith, but he did know that he was a tool in the hand’s of the Master being used for the glory of God. He related to God’s will so intimately that he was willing to go through all sorts of pain and misery to joyfully walk it out. In the midst of his ministry service, Paul knew that he could not press on based on his own strength, but only while depending on the inexhaustible grace and power of God working powerfully in and through him.
As a fellow laborer I would like to encourage you today. Throw yourself upon the mercy and grace of Almighty God. I want you to know that the same God who called you qualified you and the same God who qualified you will empower you for faithful service in His kingdom. I am in no way saying that we will have the same ministry in nature or in impact as the apostle Paul did. What I am saying is that we have been saved by the same Jesus, we are recipients of the same grace from the same Father, we have the same Spirit working within us, and we have the same glorious hope.