1. At this point in his epistle, Paul provides some insight into how he viewed his work as a minister of the gospel of Christ - Colossians 1:24-29
2. This passage can be of value to both:
a. Preachers of the gospel, in giving them insight as to how they are to view themselves and the work they are to perform
b. All Christians:
1) First, to give them a better understanding of the work of a minister and what to expect
2) And second, since all Christians are to imitate the example of Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1), to learn those attitudes we should have toward our brethren
A. PAUL HAD SUFFERED GREATLY THROUGHOUT HIS MINISTRY
1. As he outlined in his second epistle to the Corinthians - 2 Corinthians 11:23-29
2. In this, he was not much different the rest of the apostles - 1 Corinthians 4:9-13
B. YET, IF THIS SUFFERING WAS FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST AND HIS BRETHREN, PAUL WAS GLAD!
1. As he said, I now rejoice in my sufferings for you - Colossians 1:24
2. He expressed the same thoughts to the Philippians - Philippians 2:17-18
3. Remember, at the very time he wrote both of these epistles he was suffering as a prisoner at Rome in service to Christ and to them!
C. WHY WAS PAUL SO JOYFULLY WILLING TO SUFFER?
1. One reason is given in this passage: to fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.
2. Paul gives another reason elsewhere he suffered joyfully for his brethren: for the same reason parents joyfully suffer for their children! - 2 Corinthians 12:14-15
a. Children are the parents' pride and joy, and the parents will gladly sacrifice for their children!
D. DO WE IMITATE PAUL IN THIS REGARD?
1. Not only are we willing to share in the afflictions of Christ, but are we willing to suffer gladly for our brethren?
2. Do we consider our brethren as a source of great joy and pride?
3. Are we willing to joyfully expend time, energy, even blood, sweat and tears in serving them? - 1 John 3:16
4. Can we truthfully say yes if we:
a. Won't make the effort to assemble with them every opportunity that is available?
b. Won't try to encourage them when they are weak in the faith, or admonish them when they stray from the faith?
c. Aren't willing to love them, to patiently endure them, to quickly forgive them, even when they offend and sin against us?
A. HIS VIEW OF HIMSELF WAS REALLY QUITE A HUMBLE ONE
1. The word minister is diakonos, and means one who executes the commands of another, especially of a master; a servant, attendant, minister
2. This is exactly how Paul viewed himself and other preachers - 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
3. How different from views held today by some preachers and their brethren, who exalt preachers above their brethren!
4. In particular, Paul considered himself a servant:
a. Of the church - Colossians 1:24-25
b. Of Jesus Christ - Philippians 1:1
c. Of the gospel - Ephesians 3:6-7
B. AS A SERVANT, HE CONSIDERED HIMSELF A STEWARD
1. He had received a stewardship (KJV, dispensation) from God. It means the management of a household or of household affairs; specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other's property
2. He had been entrusted with the gospel of Jesus Christ!
a. Which is called in this passage a mystery, for it had been hidden for ages
c. What is this mystery? It is Christ in you, the hope of glory - Colossians 1:27
3. Paul considered it his duty as a steward to faithfully share that gospel to the nations
C. HOW ABOUT US?
1. Do we consider ourselves servants? We should! - Mark 10:42-45
2. Do we serve one another? We should! - Galatians 5:13
3. Do we consider ourselves stewards of the gospel?
a. That we have been entrusted with the riches of the gospel?
b. That to be faithful we must share them with others?
4. Whether or not WE view ourselves this way, it is how GOD views us, and we will be judged by how we have served as stewards - Matthew 25:14-30
A. WHICH WAS: TO PRESENT EVERY MAN PERFECT IN CHRIST!
1. He was not out just to preach, just to make converts
2. He wanted to make mature disciples, who had become complete in Christ
B. TO ACCOMPLISH HIS GOAL, HE USED EVERY APPROPRIATE MEANS:
1. He preached Jesus Christ!
a. He proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ
b. His life, His teachings, His death, His resurrection
c. Only by so presenting Christ to the man, can a preacher hope to present the man to Christ as complete and mature - 2 Corinthians 3:18
2. He warned when necessary! His preaching was both positive and negative!
a. Yes, there is a place for negative preaching
1) The Ten Commandments; the reproof and correction mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16
2) Negative preaching serves as restraining rails on the strait and narrow path to life!
b. Of course, it must be properly balanced with positive preaching
1) Otherwise, we will simply bounce around and get hung up on the restraining rails, never making progress in our journey
2) Positive preaching will assure that we keep progressing on the right track!
3. He taught as well as preached!
a. He did not limit himself to the public forum
b. He taught with private instruction as well - Acts 20:20
c. To present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, there is often a need for personal instruction that one does not find in the public assemblies of the church
d. Of course, wisdom helps to determine when - Colossians 1:28
4. He expended effort and emotion!
a. He labored toward this one goal of his
b. He agonized in doing so, to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive
5. He depended upon God in his labors!
a. He realized that without God he was nothing, and could do nothing worth lasting - 1 Corinthians 15:10
1. In concluding this lesson, again I seek to make application by asking:
a. Are we imitators of Paul?
b. Are we concerned about whether or not our brethren and others are being presented perfect in Christ?
c. Are we willing to expend the effort and the emotion necessary to reach this end?
2. If we will:
a. View our ourselves as Paul viewed himself, as servants and stewards
b. Consider our suffering for our brethren a great privilege and source of joy
c. Then I am convinced that we gladly devote ourselves to the same goal Paul had!
3. Let's think on these things, and consider what we can be doing to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus!
-- Don Treadway, May 2009 --