Today’s Reading: Colossians 4:17-18
As we finish up Paul’s letter to the Colossians, consider who you can relate to the most from this early body of believers. There was Tychicus – a beloved brother, a faithful helper in the work of the Lord and an encourager of others. Then there was Onesimus – a faithful and beloved brother, one who could relate to others because he was one of them. And let’s not forget Epaphras – a prayer warrior who prayed earnestly and hard for his fellow believers. But let’s consider one more person in this letter, the person Paul perhaps could relate to the most – Archippus.
“Be sure to carry out the ministry God gave you.” This is Paul’s advice to Archippus in Colossians 4:17. I wonder what the story is behind this advice. Perhaps Archippus was running from what God had called him to do, not out of willful disobedience but because he was convinced he had missed his chance. Perhaps Archippus was settling for plan B because he did not accept God’s will when he was first called by God.
Paul understood what it means to be called by God for a specific purpose. Paul said he was chosen by God to be an apostle of Christ (Colossians 1:1), that he was appointed as God’s servant to proclaim the good news (1:23) and given the responsibility of serving His church by proclaiming the entire message of Christ (1:25). But Paul did not start his adulthood following God’s plan for his life. He was actively involved in the Jewish religion but had not surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and His plan for Paul’s life. God took great measures to get Paul’s attention on the road to Damascus, bringing him back to the true purpose of his life.
Paul had much to be ashamed of as he accepted God’s call on his life. He could have walked away saying, “I’m not worthy of this call” but instead he accepted what Jesus did on the cross for him and walked into the forgiven life, willing to be and do whatever God created him for.
Paul reminds me a lot of my father, who was called as a teenager to preach God’s word yet resisted God’s plan for his life, completely walking away from both God and the Church. At the age of 34, he stopped running and accepted God’s call into full-time ministry. After 32 years as a pastor, he is now retired but continues to serve God in the Church knowing that his life is not his own, but that he has been chosen by God.
Paul reminds us that we, too, have been rescued from darkness (Colossians 1:13). We were once far away from God but Christ died so we could be reconciled to Him and brought into the presence of God “holy and blameless,” without a single fault (1:21-22).
The enemy tries to convince us we are not worthy of what God is calling us to do. But hear this today: You were dead because of your sins but God made you alive with Christ when he forgave ALL your sins. He canceled the record of the charges against you and took it away by nailing it to the cross (2:13-14).
God chose you and God is calling you. It’s time to stop running and “complete the work you have received in the Lord” (Colossians 4:17). The fact that you ran from God’s call no longer matters. The past regrets are just that – past. It no longer matters how you have sinned, but Christ is all that matters and He lives in you (3:11). You died to this life and your real life is now hidden with Christ in God (3:3). And not only are you with Christ, Christ lives in you (1:27). His power is at work within you, giving you the strength to work hard for Him (1:27).
And so my prayer for you today echoes Paul’s desires for the Colossians. I pray that God will give you complete knowledge of his will, that you will have spiritual wisdom and understanding as you continue to follow Him. I pray you will represent Christ today – clothed in love and accessorized with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness as an outflow of Christ living in you. I pray you will work willingly, making the most of every opportunity. I pray you will fully accept what God is asking you to do today with no resistance.
And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, “Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.”
I’m signing off in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember to pray for me in this jail. Grace be with you. – Colossians 4:17-18