Colossians 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
We have come to the end of Chapter one and from the end of verse 23 we have been expanding on Paul’s statement, “I Paul am made a minister.” He speaks of the ministry of suffering, the ministry of the Scriptures, and now in verse 29 he ends with the ministry of striving.
There are two words used that sound repetitive in verse 29, labor and striving. These are not repetitive but show us the labor of a minister from two different angles. The word labor is defined as making one feel fatigued. That is how the Holy Ghost describes here the work of a minister, work that will “wear you out!” This is a lesson to ministers and those in the congregation. Ministers, we ought to work for the Lord as hard if not harder than we ever worked for ourselves or another company. If there are those who “desire the office of a bishop,” let it be known that it is no life of ease, sure there are some denominations that have hefty retirement plans, and many other perks, which is not evil within itself but I assure you if that man is a true minister of the gospel no amount of compensation will balance out the weight that bears on him as a minister of the gospel. The “continual heaviness” of lost souls entering and leaving the church house week in and week out, or the heartache of having a life you have poured into turn on you. Those are hurts that only Jesus can heal and thank God he can and does. At the same time, we shouldn’t look only at the hazards of our work and the fatigue it can bring but at the blessings. While no amount of earthly compensation could outweigh the hurts of the ministry, neither can any amount of earthly pain outweigh the benefits of the ministry. Not houses, lands, and retirements if you are fortunate enough for that to be your lot, but the souls that come to Jesus Christ! The new babes born into the family of God, the fearful doubting saints that are strengthened to a place of maturity, the families rescued from the grasp of Satan and so many other benefits that have nothing to do with material gain, these are the benefits and rewards. Paul said this of the people he brought to the Lord, “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”[Php 4;1] And again, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? :20 For ye are our glory and joy.[1Thn 2:19] The fatigue is worth every drop of sweat, every tear, every sleepless night. Dear minister when we see Jesus and we see him with our joy and crown, the fruits of our ministering, we will say like Paul, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”[Rom 8:18]
The Word striving means to struggle, but in the sense of struggling to win, like competing in a race. The work of ministry is fatiguing and a struggle, so don’t be discouraged next time you feel like you are struggling, he tells us here it is to be expected. I am not half as worried about a man who is struggling as one is has it all figured out and to him, the ministry is a breeze. Keep in mind that this is struggling with an end goal in mind, the finish line. Paul said in his last words in 2 Timothy that he had fought a good fight, he had finished his course and had kept the faith and he was ready to depart and receive his crown. Dear tired, struggling minister, lift your eyes from the struggles of today and look to the finish line when all tears and sweat, and hurt is done away with! Look to the day that our struggles cease and to the awards that await faithful ministers there! I believe we have a perfect example of a life lived in the ministry in the Life of Paul, there wasn’t one thing left he want to do, he was “ready to depart.” He said to live is Christ and to die is gain! May that be the testimony of us ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ! Laboring and striving with the judgment seat in mind and with Jesus as our standard bearer.
Lastly and most importantly, where the strength comes from to labor and struggle, “according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” It is not for us to strive in our power but in his. This is the only way it is possible! You don’t have the mercy required to be stabbed in the back and to turn the other cheek, but he does, you don’t have the grace to “be good to those who despitefully use you, but he does, you don’t have the wisdom to make the right decisions, but He does, nor the knowledge or strength, nor any other thing required to be a minister, but he does. Here is the key to being a minister, you can’t but he can. Total dependency on the Lord Jesus Christ, not only for salvation but for service! Dear laboring, sweating, struggling, crying mad minister, He has everything you need we just simply ask and he provides. We cry “abba father” and he consoles us with his “Strong Consolation.” We come boldly before the throne of Grace and obtain help in our times of need. A minister is one who lives daily at the care of his Lord, never too far from the throne of Grace, never too far from the heavenly supply house. If we had to labor on our own, soon the fatigue would get to us and we would quit, if we had to struggle on our own soon we would quit, but we do so “according to His working, which worketh in us mightily!” Like Jeremiah had a fire shut up in his bones that would not allow him to quit, so do we, and maybe more so, we have “Christ in us.” He is the head we are the body; he animates and energizes us to do great and mighty things that would not otherwise be possible! We will end with the closing lines of Ephesians chapter 3; “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”