23b Whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Colossians chapter one could be broken down into this simple outline:
1-8 Greetings and Thanksgiving
9-13 Paul’s prayer  and its purpose [10-13]
Vs. 14-29 Knowing our King
14-19 Who He is.
20-23 What he has done.
23b-29 What he is doing.
We have seen who he is, “The image of the invisible God” God in the flesh. “By him, all things were created,” He is the creator of all things. “By him, all things consist,” By him, all things are sustained. “He is the head of the church,” He is everyone and everything’s creator and sustainer, but he is our head, that is we are connected to him, we are the body and by a breakable union, we are attached to him. He is “the firstborn from the dead” he was the first to resurrect to eternal life, but not the last, we being part of him shall be resurrected in like manner. “In him, all fulness dwells” he is the fulness or completion of all things, in Christ, there is not one thing that remains to be done, truly “It is finished.”
We have seen what he has done. “Made peace by the blood of his cross” His blood has brought peace with God to all who are in him; “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” He has “reconciled all things unto himself,” and all things in heaven and earth are reconciled or completed in him. All wrongs have been righted, in Christ, there is nothing in heaven or earth that is undone, truly “It is finished. Through “The body of his flesh, through death” we have been reconciled to God. Through Him we are “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” “If” the above-stated work is true of you then you will “continue in the faith grounded and settled” and “be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.”
“I ____________ Am Made a Minister.”
Now verses 23a-29 tell us what he is doing at this moment. “Whereof I Paul am made a minister.” This phrase is repeated in verse 25 and very similarly stated in verse 29 “Whereunto I also labor.” The work of Salvation is done, but the work of saving is not yet complete. All who come to Christ find total and complete salvation, but all have not yet come to Christ. We’re still here waiting on the glorious appearing of our Lord and until then we are bidding all that will come unto him. His work is completed but His work through us and in us is not yet completed. A great verse of explanation is this “To live is Christ,”[Philippians 1:21] or “Christ, who is our life,” [Colossians 3:4] even clearer is “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” [Galatians 2:20]. Three words from verse 27 beautifully summarize our subject, “Christ in you.” He is our head and we are his body, We are ambassadors, here to represent our country and our King Jesus. The work he is currently involved in is done through you and me. Christ is in us; this is the hope we have not only of hope of heaven but the hope of life and labor that serves our King well. Without him being in us we could not possibly minister or labor, notice Verse 29, “Striving according to his working, which worketh in me Mightily.” The hope we have of salvation is, “Us in Christ,” and the hope that we have of sanctification and service is “Christ in us.”
Three obvious areas of Christ’s ministry in us and through us are stated in our verses. Verse 24 tells us of the ministry of Suffering. Verses 25-28 show us the ministry of the Scriptures, and verse 29 tells us of the ministry of Striving. It seems to me that in every area of our being ministers, there will first be the ministering, or administering, of certain things to us so that we can in turn minister and administer to others. Suffering will minister to us then we can minister in our suffering and then to others who are suffering. The Scriptures will first minister to us, then we can minister to others through the Scriptures, and so on.
Suffering was administered to Paul, and it taught him a vitally important lesson that he is teaching here. Several years before the writing of this letter we find that he was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. On three occasions Paul sought the Lord’s requital of this suffering but all the while the suffering was ministering to Paul. It served the purpose of keeping him humble but even greater it was through this ministry of suffering that he found the joy spoken of in our verses today. It was through his seeking the Lord about his suffering that the Lord revealed to him the ministry of this thorn, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”[ 2 Corinthians 12:9] He goes on to say this “Gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”[ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10] Suffering first ministered to Paul and through his suffering, he became so weak that all his strength had to come from the Lord. When we become so poor that everything we have must be borrowed from the Lord, then we are rich indeed! His strength is far better than our own, His patience is far more longsuffering than ours. Suffering depletes you of your abilities, and your strength, and then when you have nothing left you are forced to draw from the storehouse of Christ! Truly “Blessed are the poor.” My father used to always tell me “Don’t buy that just use the one I have.” I repeat that today, don’t use your poor, weak, meager means. Christ, who is the fulness of all things has a storehouse of joy, peace, wisdom, and strength that you can draw from. Suffering has a ministry in your life it is Christ in you don’t run away from it, rather say with Paul, “Gladly, therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!”
That ministry of suffering in the life of Paul has now led him to minister to others in this same area, by teaching it and living it before others. He says in our verse today, “Whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:” He was a minister of suffering and ministered through suffering and now a minister in suffering, and for whose sake is it now? It was at first for his sake, to teach him a lesson that he taught others, but now he is suffering for others’ sake; “For his body’s sake, the church.” This is fully mature Christendom. Ministers, we will be called at first to suffer for our own sakes, then he will make us suffer for His body’s sake, the church, but this won’t be a problem because one, He has taught us the joy of suffering, and two, we have “Christ in us.” “The life that I now live I live by the faith of Jesus Christ.” You can’t, but he can! And He will make you a minister to his body, the church. What is Christ doing at this time you ask? “I [insert your name] am made a minister.” He is ministering and making ministers.