Summary: Exposition of Col. 1:24-29
Exactly what does it mean to serve the Lord?
It was after one of those long sermons that seem to last forever that a father and his son were walking toward the door when the boy stopped in front of a plaque in the foyer. The little boy pointed and asked, “Daddy, what’s this for?” His father said, “Oh, that’s in memory for those who died in the service.” The little boy said, “Which service, Daddy--the morning service or the evening service?”
I know some people think they deserve a medal just for warming a pew, but there must be more to serving the Lord than just coming to church? Serving Him involves working, doing something for the Savior Who did so much for me. I don’t serve Him like a slave, trying to earn His approval: I serve Him like a son, who enjoys being a part of His Father’s work in this world. The army of God is a strictly volunteer outfit; those who truly serve Him serve Him because they want to, because they love Him.
But what else is involved in serving the Lord? One answer comes from the example of a man who modeled faithful service to God: the apostle Paul. Serving God was not just a duty for Paul—it was his greatest ambition, his deepest passion, his measure of true success. This morning I want to take a closer look in Col. 1:24-29 at this man who lived out faithful service to his King and look at some ways you and I can follow his example.
I. THE SERVICE OF THE KING INVOLVES SUFFERING (v. 24-25)
Suffering and service often go hand in hand. I remember that every time I watch soldiers leaving for Iraq, or Afghanistan. I see the hurt in the eyes and tears of their spouse, their family, their friends. I’ve heard many of them say time and again that in spite of the pain, they are glad to serve this great country. Suffering and service often go hand in hand.
Paul tells us that’s also true in the service of the King. In vs. 24 he says I now rejoice in my sufferings…He’s not saying he enjoys suffering---that wouldn’t make much sense. It’s not pleasant having to write this letter to the church in Colossae from a dark, damp jail cell. What he is saying is that he is glad to suffer out of love and devotion for Christ and His church. His mission is: …to fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of His Body, which is the church…What does that mean? Just as Jesus suffered on the Cross to redeem the church, so Paul, in the service of the King, is willing to suffer to serve Christ and His church. Serving the Savior involves suffering for the Savior. Suffering and service go hand in hand.
Paul goes on to write I knew suffering was part of my service for the King from the get-go. He writes in vs. 25, this suffering is according to the stewardship [the commission] from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God…
Jesus first spoke that word of God in
Acts 9:15-16 15…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
What was the purpose of this pain? To reveal the glory of Christ. He writes in vs. 26-27: the King called me into His service to reveal the mystery nobody could figure out on their own: our hope of glory—of abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven---comes through Jesus Christ living in us. The reason you know God forgives your sins and that you have a home in heaven is because Jesus Christ lives in you.
Now connect all the dots here and you get the message: a true servant of the King is glad to suffer for the glory of Jesus Christ. Suffering and service go hand in hand.
Someone asked Roger Staubach, former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, cc. injuries, "How do you keep on keeping on if you’re playing professional football?" Roger said something important: "If you’re not playing hurt, you’re not playing football."
Paul expresses a similar truth in these verses: if you’re not suffering for the King, maybe it’s because you’re really not truly serving the King. That might sound offensive to you. After all, nobody in their right mind likes to hurt. Yet I notice Jesus, Paul, Peter, and many other NT writers believed suffering was part of our service to the King.
Luke 21:17 and you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.