And say to Archippus, "See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord."
(Colossians 4:17 – ESV)
(Colossians 4:17 – ESV)
This verse commands us to exhort others to continually fulfill their ministry. It also commands us to be continually fulfilling our own ministry. However, that isn’t as simple as it sounds. It is impossible to always be fulfilling it all, practically and morally. We all reach impossible climbs, deep valleys, and dead ends in what we do. As well, how can we even see what others must do when we don’t even know what to do ourselves? How could we even muster up the courage to tell them to keep fulfilling their ministry when we are doing so poorly ourselves? How can we tell someone to go to it when we are having such a hard time even keeping our own head above water? How can we meet our obligations to others if we cannot even meet our own?
Even if we are able to reach a level of obedience and breadth or success in ministry, we still too often think this makes us good. In that case we are fulfilling ourselves by fulfilling our ministry and we are not truly obeying at all. Our lives aren’t praising Him they are praising our accomplishments. The more we think about this in depth, the more we realize that this is an impossible task. We cannot fulfill our ministry.
Jesus did fulfill His ministry, however. Christ is the ultimate embodiment of this principle and command. He encouraged and supported others, He fulfilled His ministry at all times, He did anything, and everything His Father commanded and wanted Him to do. John 17:4, 19:30 – the most important ministry has been done. Acts 2:32-33 – Christ has given us of the Spirit so that we can fulfill it.
So looking to Christ as always is the key. Our inability to do what must be done stems from our lack of belief in Christ as sufficient. We feel as if we have to fulfill our ministry or we fall from grace, but this is not the case. That is a self-righteous thing, motivated by fear and pride. However, it is not from fear and pride that we can move with Christ, but from humility and joy. Repent and rejoice in Christ, see Him as enough and then we can live as we ought.
Instead of seeing Him as some moral example we must see Him as our substitute, as the fulfillment of this command, and Paul and Timothy and others as the example, as they saw Christ as substitute, not just at the Cross, but also as our daily clothing. We must wear the garments of grace or others won’t see Christ as all sufficient and beautiful, they will only see us as great, and their lives as miserable. If our lives don’t point to Christ, they point to perdition.
Just because you feel as if you are doing all that you have been called to do is no reason to feel smug. If your life says to others, “look what I am doing for Christ”, or “look at all Christ has done for me”, and yet if it does not say, “look at how beautiful Christ is” then I tell you that you are not fulfilling your ministry, the ministry is simply fulfilling you.