2008.08.31 God's People Minister - Laboring for Christ Col 2 1-5
God’s People Minister: Laboring for Christ
August 31, 2008
· When I say the word Labor – what do you think of?
o Do you think of Labor Day – where you get a paid day off – a holiday weekend – time away from work or for you students school starts after labor day.
o Maybe you think of some of the jobs you’ve had over your lifetime – some jobs that were easier than others, some jobs that were dirtier than others, and some jobs that paid better than other jobs.
o Maybe if you’ve been to third world countries you might think of child labor and the mistreatment of children.
o Or about labour camps that were set up in different countries to punish their own people
o Probably you mothers thought about labor as in labor and delivery….those thoughts (I’m assuming…) bring back bittersweet feelings…possibly thoughts of excrutiating pain followed by moments of pure joy seeing your newly born child…
· The Apostle Paul in the start of Ch 2 in Colossians further discusses his labor for the church, his struggle for the body of Christ – his work for the Lord….He says, “I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you…” Paul’s ministry or his labor to the Lord was not just something that happened, it was hard work, it was toiling, it was taxing, it was burdensome at times (have you been there in ministry work?), it was a battle and it was intentional!!! Paul knew there was a cost to laboring for the Lord and he willingly engaged in the ministry, in the labor, in the struggle, in the toil for the sake of Christ.
· There was also a great joy in that labor – despite some of the agony, there is joy in seeing people standing firm in their faith in Christ Jesus – something to rejoice about amidst the labor
· Paul labored not for his own benefit, but for the glory of God and building up of God’s people. This morning we will look specifically at the ways in which he instructs us to labor for Christ.
· God’s People Minister…Proclaiming Christ –
o to make the Word of God fully known,
o proclaiming by warning and teaching everyone in all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ
o proclaiming in His strength….For this I toil, struggling….
Paul continues…Ch 2:1 (read)
· I find it amazing that Paul would be willing to be beaten, imprisoned, attacked for preaching the gospel and to building up Christians he has never met, he loves them and cares for them like someone who he knows personally and initimately.
· Paul loved Christ, even to the point of death (b/c of his faith in Christ he was put to death). B/c of his love for Christ, Paul loves the Colossians who he has never met face to face. He loves them, for they are the bride of Christ, the church – so Paul is willing to labor for the body that Christ may be exalted!!!
· Paul says in his 2 Letter to Timothy, "I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (2 Timothy 2:10, ESV)
· Opposite of hyper-Calvinist…God is Sovereign…doesn’t need me…
· In our text, there are four ways that Paul describes how he labors for the church:
1. God’s People Minister: Laboring…to be an encouragement
Read Col 2:2a
· I want you to think of someone in this congregation that is an encouragement to you
· Now your homework…is to tell that person that they encourage you…so you in essence or encouraging the encourager to keep encouraging.
· To encourage is to enstill courage in another
· Paul is striving and laboring to bolster the courage of the Colossians to stand against the false teachers
· Do you remember Christ was attacked…his deity and humanity by the Gnostic false teachers
· Paul desires that they would be courageous in their faith in Christ despite opposition.
· William Barclay – Englishman (The Daily Study Bible – 17 vols) shares about the Greek word used for encourage – parakaleo He tells of a Greek historian who used parakaleo in secular literature this way…I quote from Barclay,
o “There was a Greek regiment which had lost heart, lost courage, and which was utterly dejected. The general sent a leader to talk to the regiment, and he talked to it to such purpose that courage was reborn, and a body of dispirited men became a body of men fit again for heroic action. That is what parakaleo means here. It is Paul’s prayer that the church may be filled with that courage which can cope heroically with any situation.”
· True encouragers don’t encourage for selfish gain, rather true encouragers encourage by building into others by your presence (you being there, putting your arm around someone – not saying a word…. not presents as in gifts), your words (as you labor the H.S. just gives you words….) or your actions. You are there to provide courage for others to move toward God and His will for their lives.
· God’s People Minister…laboring, toiling, inconveniencing yourself….to be an encouragement.
2. God’s People Minister: Laboring…to foster unity (in love)
Read Col 2:2b
· Paul is saying here that it is hard to live for Christ, fighting the battle all by yourself – alone…we are the body and we need to be unified and knit together
· There is battle that rages against believers from the darkness – so Paul is laboring that believers would be unified together and not battling themselves, not using valuable resources combating one another….rather
· In Christ and our love for Christ we need to be unified – so that together we can be strong to fight off the false teachers, the false doctrines (exactly what the Colossians needed to do) – so we are not standing alone, but as a unified body we can combat the enemy.
· This happens in war, in nature…whale, the enemy will try to cut off a part of the platoon or the pack….POU Unit in policing – Punch out by yourself less effective…when we were united we were strong
· Paul is saying that as believers and specifically for the Colossians there are those who want to segregate the group and scatter some of the believers to the outskirts with false doctrines and in doing so…it would weaken the unity of the body – it would make them vulnerable….
· So as laborers for Christ – we are to work to foster unity in the body
o To achieve unity in the body say here at Peoples Church….it actually starts individually…unity starts with our own walk with Christ…let me explain...
o Individually….united to God – Salvation…walking in the Spirit
o Family…Husband and Wife, Parents to Children, Sibling to Sibling…
o Peoples Church body…
· Phil 2 - "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 2:1-5, ESV)
· Unity is a decision, a decision to surrender to Christ, a decision for a husband to continually look to his wife’s interests thinking in advance of those interests and laboring, toiling, struggling sometimes to meet them…., siblings counting each other more significant than yourselves, & fellow believers here at Peoples Church that we would be united by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind in Christ. Unity is a decision, we can choose unity only in the strength of the Lord. On our own, we are naturally selfish and strive for our own interests, but we are commanded to be united in Christ and He can provide the strength for us to labor for unity – for His glory.
· The battle rages and we here at Peoples Church, if we are united, we will stand strong. We have 400 or so people, but we are stronger than 400 individuals when we come together and stand together for the gospel!
· We need all people for the battle – we need you Sonshiners (our Seniors) – you’ve been in battle the longest and you have much wisdom…we need you to share your battle wisdom with us, in your small groups, in EXALT, in the Ladies Bible Study, in Tri-Cord Fellowship, maybe in Marriage Mentoring…teaching us, teaching our youth – no your not too old to minister to our young people…we have much to learn! We need you to teach us Christian character…parents we need to teach your children about Christian character – b/c CHARACTER WILL TAKE CARE OF THE CONTEXT. You may never have experience what a younger person is going through, but if you teach them character….then that character will prevail in any context young people may find themselves in. You are never too old to teach the young. All of us play an important role in maintaining unity of the body of Christ and fighting the battle. May we labor to foster unity that we might be strong in the battle for Christ!
3. God’s People Minister: Laboring…to bestow a confident understanding of Christ
· Paul labored in this letter to the Colossians to correct false teaching they were receiving from the Gnostics regarding Christ –Paul desired that the Colossians would be confident in their understanding of who Jesus Christ really was – the Savior, the Messiah, the Holy One who came as a man and died in our place, took on our sin, paid the penalty for our sin….not only did he die in our place but he had victory over sin and death and God raised Him from the dead, so we too who put our faith in him will live also forever with Him!
· Paul says there are riches and wealth the come from the full assurance of our faith in Christ…there is blessing for believers in being assured that for example…when we die we will be with Christ, Paul says, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Assurance grows the more our faith is put into practice, the more that we actually apply the Scripture to our lives and see that there is joy in living out the truth.
· Did you notice I used the word joy instead of happiness, b/c lets be honest, there are times when living out Scripture does not make us happy, it may bring persecution and ridicule, but living for the truth can make us joyful no matter what the circumstance.
· The Scripture says that in Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found – you know one thing I really look forward to when I get to heaven – it discovering more and more about Christ – forever. God is so awesome that even in all eternity we will still be learning about Him.
· Paul does not want the Colossians to be tricked by the false teachers and their crafty strategies, but to be confident in Christ, whom they have surrendered their lives to.
· As laborers for Christ, we are to bestow a confident understanding of Christ by living out Scripture to grow in our relationship with the Lord and to be able to lead and teach others to do likewise – so that they also may be confident in Christ and enjoy the riches of that assurance.
4. God’s People Minister: Laboring…to rejoice in seeing mature disciples (an earthly reward for our labor)
· No workers work with the hope of seeing their project or their business fail…no coaches coach to see their teams and players decrease in their skills and become worse athletes. No teachers teach to see their students fail and drop out of school. Likewise no laborers of Jesus Christ labor to see poor weak disciples who are discouraged, disunified, and doubting. Rather, we labor to see mature disciples – growing in Christ who are encouraged, unified and assured. We labor to see those we disciple in turn disciple others who will also make a difference for Christ and the cycle continues…
· If you have ever invested and labored in another’s life, you also, desire to see them standing firm…to see that your labor was not in vain and all for nothing; rather you want to see them standing firm and serving Jesus – this would include parents, grandparents, teachers, Sunday School teachers, Small Group leaders, Bible Study leaders, Marriage Mentors and so many more who are investing in others….there is a joy in seeing people mature in Christ.
· Listen to the apostles….
o "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy." (1 Thes 2:19-20)
o Paul continues a few verses later, “"For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God," (1 Thes 3:8-9, ESV)
o John says, "I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father." (2 John 4, ESV)
o "For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 3-4, ESV)
· Did you notice that Paul and John were not looking for praise from men for all their labor, rather they received no greater joy than to hear that their labor in Christ produced mature disciples!!!
· Is that why you labor for Christ – for His glory and to see others moved toward God’s will for their lives – to see them maturing in Him!
· I’ve never labored as a pregnant woman – Praise the Lord. But…I am m pretty sure about this…pregnant ladies do not labor for their own benefit…sure they desire to have a child, but if the option was available I’m sure they would have a child without any labor – just out the little one comes – almost all on it’s own…no pain.
· Paul did not labor for Christ for his own benefit either. Rather there was a cost involved – Paul willingly endured the cost…for Christ. There is a battle out there – a spiritual battle – and if you are looking for the easy route in ministry and in laboring for Christ…you may very well find it
· if you do, you will be far from the front lines, far from the battle – in fact you will likely even forget that there is a battle & your effectiveness will be practically and absolutely diminished!!! – Its almost like you were laboring for nothing – that’s the easy route
· True laborers will know there is a battle b/c there are bullets flying pass your head, b/c you have battle gear on, and you are engaged, dialed in to what is going on….yet there is great comfort that despite the battle you know that God has placed you there.
· True laborers for Christ will experience discomfort, inconvenience, dying to oneself, putting others ahead of yourself, injuries, insult…but you will also experience encouragement, unity, assurance and confidence in Christ and there will be a joy in seeing your labor for Christ produce mature disciples – who will then continue the cycle of making a difference for Christ….
· The decision is easy, but not always easily carried out….I exhort you to be a true laborer – a selfless worker of Jesus Christ – who seeks to encourage others toward Christ, who seeks to foster unity, and who seeks to live out the Scripture to bestow confidence in Christ to others all the while rejoicing as God is lifted high & exalted by mature disciples doing His work in His strength!
· God’s People Minister: Laboring for Christ!