Summary: Paul labored for the Church. Who, what, when, where, and why is our labor?
a. Paul understood his identity as completely in Christ.
b. Paul employed all of his labor and resource for the cause of Christ.
V. Application Questions
a. Who are you laboring for? Self or Christ?
b. What are you laboring for? Wealth, world, or the body of Christ?
c. When are you laboring? Are you making an investment of time for the church?
d. Where are you laboring? In the world or in the Church?
e. Why are you laboring? For present prosperity or eternal inheritance?
“Paul’s Labor for the Church,” Colossians 1:24-29
Colossians: Our Identity in Christ, Part-3
Martin Luther said, “If anyone knocks at the door of my breast and says, ‘Who lives there?’ my answer is, ‘Jesus Christ lives here, not Martin Luther.’” Of all the biblical doctrines, scriptural principles, and practical applications of the life of Christ in our finding our identity in Christ, none is of more value than laboring, suffering for the sake of the Church.
This morning we’ll talk about Paul’s labor for the church but we’ll focus on Paul’s suffering for the sake of the Church and what we can apply in our lives not only through Paul’s example, for that would be moralistic preaching alone, but through the Scriptural mandate Paul places as the foundation of his labor – love for Christ and the subsequent necessity of love for the body of Christ – the Church.
CIT / CIS: We are called to labor for Christ in the Church.
For our labor not to be in vain, for it to be lasting, it must be dedicated to the glory of Christ and the building of His body, the Church.
The Apostle Paul endured great hardship for the sake of the Gospel. More specifically, he did so for the cause of Christ and the sake of the Church. The Gospel, while it is magnificent and glorious all on its own it goes forward to gather believers into worship and place them into a position to fulfill their highest aim – to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God builds the Church through the Gospel.
Paul understood his purpose as one in whom Christ dwelt and as one who would share in the glory of Christ. Paul’s identity was in Christ. Who he was now was based on his being saved in Christ. Who he would become had everything to do with the final revealing of Christ in glory. Who he was had everything to do with Christ having saved him and slain the old man of sin.
Consequently, Paul abandoned the world, using his resources for Christ glory!
Paul employed every ounce of his energy for the sake of the glory of God in Christ and the welfare and growth of the body of Christ through whom the glory of Christ shines in this darkened world.
We must learn to rest in Christ. This is true. Ours is not a works based faith, where we labor to gain approval from God. No. However, the call to rest in Christ is not a call to slothfulness but to trust in the who provides the harvest for what we plant, who brings the rain on the seeds we sow, and who gives the increase.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work. We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-10 NET)
As we move forward I want to invite each of us to consider, to undertake an investigation of our carefully we are building. As co-laborers in the kingdom my brothers and sisters in Christ, how intentional are our efforts. How much of our labor is devoted to the eternal task of bringing glory to God through the Church?
Application Questions. When it comes to getting at the heart of an investigation there are basically only five questions to ask: who, what, when, where, and why. Let’s investigate our own hearts, attitudes, and lives to see how we are doing in light of what we’ve just looked at in the life of the Apostle Paul.
Who are you laboring for? Self or Christ? The Apostle labored for Christ. He didn’t waste his life. His labor was for the church for the sake of Christ and Christ for the sake of the Church. In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (NIV84) For whom do you labor? For whom are you willing to suffer?