Colossians Devotional | For What We Toil
Colossians: Christ Above and Before All
The Glory of God Revealed in Jesus
For What We Toil
“24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” - (Colossians 1:24-29)
Do you know what Paul wanted most out of his life?
To make Jesus known to the lost and to see them saved. To see Christians rise up in holiness and maturity, changing the world with self-sacrificial generosity, humility, and grace. He was even willing, had the Lord permitted it, to hand over his own salvation and be damned if only his Jewish brethren could believe the gospel and be saved, themselves (Romans 9:1-5). This couldn’t be permitted, however--it’s for Christ alone to hand over his life for the salvation of others.
So, what did Paul do? He gave up his life in another way: he put himself in positions of danger, persecution, and accusation. For the sake of preaching the gospel and shepherding people, he spent his days, dollars, and devotion. He was beaten, nearly to death, at least three times. He was shipwrecked twice. A snake bit him after he made a fire to warm his fellow shipwrecked mates. He was constantly undermined, dragged into contentious debates, and mocked (he was laughed out of Athens when he preached the gospel [Acts 17]). People tried to take over the churches he planted and lead the members astray. Paul worked long hours, preaching multiple times a day, and wrote letter after letter after letter. He was imprisoned, starved, and, ultimately, executed.
What for? For what did he “toil, struggling with all his energy” which God powerfully worked within him?
To make the “word of God fully known.” To tell people about the glory of God in the mystery of Jesus...that is, getting people to believe the gospel of Jesus, our savior. Getting people to see how good and marvelous Jesus is, in a way that gives them hope. The kind of hope that makes people stand up, speak up, and step out in acts of faith. He wanted to warn sinners away from Hell and toward the Savior. He wanted to lead churches in a way that they’d follow Jesus, becoming mature in Christ.
Paul couldn’t die to save anyone, but he surely believed he could live to see Jesus’s death do it. For this, he toiled.
What are you toiling for? What are you working for? What is the sum goal of all your stress, hand-wringing, sweating, saving, earning, and planning? What do you most want to see God do with the work of your life?
What is at least one change you can make today? Pray about this. How can you follow Paul as he follows Jesus, turning his toil toward salvation and maturation in the world around you?