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)
We need to understand ministry as something received, not something achieved. It has been given to you and it is your job to see to it that it gets fulfilled. We shouldn’t think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Luke 14:7-11), anything you have you have received (1 Corinthians 4:7) but we also shouldn’t think less, you have received something, and you must fulfill the ministry you have received. If you don’t know what your ministry is, start by encouraging someone else in what theirs is.
All true ministry is done “in the Lord”, not in yourself, you cannot do it alone. In Christ you are significant but not special. Some want ministry only because it makes them feel special, or they go about looking to show that they are special. Other people will help affirm your call, don’t go looking to do that yourself. Some want to show you how their ministry is mystical, and some don’t want ministry unless it means they are higher than others. These all have a self-esteem problem but the answer isn’t to boost their self-esteem but boost their esteem for God and to boost their esteem for others (Philippians 2:3). It is not about fulfilling ministry for the sake of doing it but for Him. That can be more subtle a problem than you may think.
This is not so much calling on duty in ministry as calling on devotion in Christ. The ministry may be to other people but it is in the Lord, and it is Him we are looking to, not to other people’s approval of our ministry, or certain results. You are not saved either in the ultimate sense or even in the temporal sense by pursuing the fulfilling of your ministry; if you are a Christian then you have already been saved, that is why you can fulfill it. It is unbelief, fear and pride that stop you, but you cannot simply wave your hand and send them away, can you? Indeed, we are not trying to get you to try harder; we are helping you solve the problem by applying the gospel to it.
It all comes down to God; this verse is to be seen through the lens of Christ. It may seem as if it is basically about what we must do, and tell others to do, but it is really about what Christ has done. If we see this verse as only instructions on what we are to do, without seeing Christ as having already fulfilled something, then Jesus only serves as an example for us to follow. In the Lord – without relating this to Christ it only becomes moral commands to try hard to do or achieve. Only when we see that Jesus has already fulfilled His ministry, the main ministry, then can we see to it that we fulfill ours. If He had not, we could not, but because He has, we can. His victory has been accounted to us, He has won the war, and that is why we can proclaim the ultimate victory despite the heat of battles.