And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it. – Colossians 4:17
If you’ve been reading the Bible for a while, you’ll be familiar with the phenomenon through which a verse you’ve read many times suddenly jumps out at you or takes on new significance. Call it a spiritual face palm. That was me yesterday morning.
I thought about Archippus, his evident failure to carry out his ministry and the public embarrassment he suffered as a result. If you thought shaming via social media was bad, try having your disgrace hung out to dry for a couple of thousand years in the world’s most famous book. You can (sort of) erase a derogatory post, but we’re assured not one jot or tittle of God’s Word will disappear.
What did his failure look like? Did he fall away dramatically like many church leaders today, or did he simply lose his heart for the mission God had put before him? Or was this an often-misinterpreted attempt by the Apostle Paul to cheer on a colleague who faced challenges or opposition in his ministry?
Regardless, the admonition struck me: Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it. I doubt this passage jumped out at me for no reason. So in typical introvert fashion, I began to reflect on my own life and ministry.
If you’re a Christian, your life is ministry, and ministry is your life. That’s because each one of us who knows Christ as Savior and Lord is called to be a minister – an ambassador – of the gospel.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. – 2 Corinthians 5:20
We are ambassadors in our homes, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, in our extended families, as we run our errands and even as we run our mouths. As ambassadors, we are never off the clock. So even if you don’t think you have a specific area in ministry in your life, surprise! You have one.
Have I lost my zeal for making the most of every opportunity as I interact with people I encounter along the way? Am I allowing the busyness of life to keep so task-oriented in terms of my worldly responsibilities to preclude attention to my otherworldly responsibilities?
I must also reflect upon those areas of my Christian service – my mission work and my nursing home ministry, for instance. Do I cheerfully give of myself as I serve, or do I give of myself reluctantly as if under self-imposed compulsion?
Examine your life – aka your ministry – and ask yourself the same questions. Perhaps you’ve never likened your life to ministry. Well, that’s a place to start. And instead of asking yourself how effective you are in your ministry, ask yourself instead how driven you are to pursue it. This is a reflection of your very heart.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21
I’m not sure what became of our friend Archippus. Did he repent? Was he refreshed in his spirit? Did he fall on his knees before God or fall altogether? Did he finish strong? We don’t really know. But unfortunately for him, this verse has become his legacy. Spare me such a fate, Lord.
Lord, forgive me for going through the motions, for not pursuing and representing You with my whole heart. Do not allow defeat and shame to be my legacy. Let me finish strong so I may have a heavy crown to lay at Your feet.
But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24