Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Filling Up the Cup

…in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions …
(Colossians 1:24 – ESV)

Paul is speaking of paying his dues as a minister. He talked to the believers at Colossae about continuing in the faith, and now he is declaring that he is doing just that. Continuing in the gospel for him means teaching it, proclaiming it, and attending to its service for others, which also means suffering. He is leading by being an example of pressing on and pressing in. He rejoices because his suffering is accomplishing good for others in the Body.

Paul isn’t saying the sacrifice of Jesus was incomplete or missing something, he is saying that by our suffering, Jesus still “suffers” as He ministers through His people. By His stripes we are healed and by our stripes He is revealed. Paul is filling up his own measure (2 Corinthians 1:5). We all have a measure of affliction God has appointed us to, and the more we do the less others might have to. Not everyone who is a believer will suffer as much as Paul but we will still suffer (2 Timothy 3:12 / John 16:33 / 1 John 5:4).

Of course many feel like they are suffering for Christ and the Body’s sake, but they aren’t. They aren’t suffering for the cause of Christ they are suffering for the cause of carelessness, or cowardice (we suffer because we will not “do” confrontation in love), crassness (we confront without love) or childishness (we won’t submit to sanctification, and we lose ground because we won’t suffer the death of our flesh), or compromise (being in sin and calling this trials).

It hurts to do the right thing. It hurts our flesh and our emotions because we have indulged them and we haven’t trained ourselves in righteousness, at least in certain areas. That is why they hurt so badly. The hurt may never go away fully but we can understand that the hurt isn’t as great as the heaven and serving our Lord now is more important than our personal comfort.

This is a major deal. People don’t want to give up their personal comfort to serve Christ because they don’t think it is necessary. However it isn’t about immediate necessity it is about values. Learning to value Christ above all else means learning to leave other things behind, and, when necessary, things we have grown attached to. Not that we have to leave everything but that if anything gets in the way well, then…we have to learn what is hindering us and what is not.

That is developing Christian maturity, leaving childish things behind as Paul states to ADULTS at Corinth. People feel or know they are already forgiven, so we don’t see the need or the necessity, but we don’t know what we are missing or how this will affect us later because we will have the same thing happen later just in a different circumstance. And we will have to keep having circumstances until we get it right. Even when we do get it right then perhaps we will still have more, but our perspective will be changing.

Another thing to consider is that our slack and our lack will affect others who need us as an example, that is why Paul soldiered on in his afflictions, he didn’t want there to be any lack, he wanted the full measure so as to obtain the full benefit for others. 2 Timothy 2:9-10 – see this also in temporal terms.

If we have been trained it will not affect us as much. But we don’t know what we are losing out on (God’s presence and rewards in heaven etc.) and so we keeping on indulging our flesh. If we want God’s best we have to pass the test and He keeps making us take it like a good teacher would if they had the time. God takes our entire lives to try and teach us some things; when will we ever just give in to God? The longer you wait to suffer the worse it will be because that much more of your flesh has taken over and so that much more has to die, and the more pain you have to go through, see?

For the sake of his body, the church – it is not just about you but also about the whole Body of which you are a member. We are to be maturing and helping others. Paul followed in the footsteps of Jesus, and was an others-centered person. Paul found holiness, spiritual growth, and maturity when he pursued them for others. If you won’t do it for yourself do it for the cause of Christ and for the Body, because others are doing it for you.

We must die to self (John 12:24). Just as Jesus had a cup, we also have a cup, or a cross, our burden we must bear if we are to follow Him and be His disciple. Knowing this, that everyone has their own cup, would you still want to sing, “here’s my cup Lord, please fill it up Lord”? What if the contents of “here’s my cup, fill it up, and make me whole” were suffering, what if that is the cup that would make us whole?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©


Even So... said...

Fill 'er up?

Kristine said...

You can't possibly know the comfort and reassurance this provided me. This is a topic I've been meaning to write on; and one that I think all saints in Christ need to reflect deeply on.

The recconciliation of my marriage was a very different story behind closed doors, than the one that most people in our own sphere of living witnessed.

I was actually engaged to be married to a different man (who became a Christian right around the time that I had; in fact, we did many of our discipleship lessons together) when my ex-husband came to know Christ as Savior. I can't even begin to speak of all the heartache, anger, confusion and frustration that were intensely involved.

You can know better than anyone in your head, what God would desire MOST from you; but following after His will wholeheartedly can be quite another matter.

What I can say is that God's grace accomplished this marriage's reconciliation, in spite of me.

Great Post. As always, thanks for writing. Your blog is a tremendous encouragment to me, day after day.

Your Sister In Him,

donsands said...

" when will we ever just give in to God?"

I think this will always be a heart-wrenching truth for the believer.
Because we will never be able to completely surrender to the degree our lord did, however, we can surely have moments of giving in, and moments of genuine growth, growing pains of course.
There has to be some kind of balance where we don't become discouraged, but nevertheless still have a healthy conviction, and yet are built up, and encouraged.

Excellent post JD. So much here to consider, and all of it is good.

Even So... said...

Your comments are encouraging to me, and I am sure they are encouraging to others as well...

Christ is worth knowing to the fullest extent possible, and may we always be striving to learn and love Him more, even as we come to understand His love for us all the more...

Even So... said...

Hey Sandman came in while I was typing!

Well, your comments are appreciated too Don, very much so, not only here, but in all the places we both frequent in the blogosphere...

To God be the glory!

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

umh - somedays I think I'm allergic to suffering - takes entirely too much energy and leaves none for work and home - so balance once again becomes an issue for me - am I unwilling just because I'm tired?? or am I less than willing just because I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel - "without a vision the people perish?"

I see from the site meter that you've still been reading - thank you so much - even though I haven't had much time to blog or read - this time of year is filled iwth curricular deadlines and grant deadlines so the shear work load puts me in survival mode only - if I get my Bible Study Fellowship lesson done each week and a few chapters of scripture besides I count it an excellent week spritually - sad, huh?

Even So... said...

Not sad at all, endurance is part of what we are talking about, take heart, dear sister...

philness said...

I think of Jonah on that boat. All those people on that boat had to suffer for what Jonah did not want to do.

Even though stories like Jonah and especially Job are past examples of suffering I sometimes wrongly feel, "well I'm glad it wasn't me and I'm glad all that suffering was back then and not now". But the reality of it all is that I know unless we suffer we are not being made in His image. For His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Suffering is just as part of now as it was part of then. So, I thank God He provided those suffering stories of way back then so that I and others might have the courage to suffer in the now. You know? Cause why else would those stories by there were it not a lesson that all Gods kids most likely would be called to go through. May God grant us all endurance.

I can't help but think that our suffering from sin when we were lost has a carry-over affect on us while we are saved. I think of Paul's sufferings correlated to the many Christians he killed. Just a thought.