On Wednesday nights at Immanuel we have been studying through the Bible, one book at a time (you can listen to most of these messages online at our Podbean site, just click here). This Wednesday we came to number 51 of 66, Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae. As I read through the letter I was struck by how Paul described his own ministry. In particular, the following eight ideas seemed especially applicable to the roles of preacher and missionary:
- Rejoice in your suffering. Paul rejoiced in suffering because he realized his suffering was filling up what was lacking in Christ’s suffering (Colossians 1:24). Christ’s suffering was not lacking power or ability to save. Rather, it was lacking application through the proclamation of the gospel.
- Make the Word of God fully known. Paul understood that one day he would give an account for how he carried out his ministry (Colossians 1:25). He was not concerned about sharing the bare minimum with as many people as possible. Rather, he was concerned with proclaiming the whole counsel of God.
- Communicate wisely. Paul was busy proclaiming Jesus, warning sinners and teaching everyone … and he did each of these things with wisdom (Colossians 1:28). As preachers and missionaries proclaim the gospel, they must do so wisely, giving thought to how they proclaim good news.
- Aim for maturity in Christ. Paul was not just concerned with “saving souls.” He was not concerned with making the faith once for all delivered to the saints “simple.” Rather, Paul was driven by a desire to see those who once walked in darkness turn to walk faithfully as mature believers (Colossians 1:28).
- Work hard. If you are going to make the Word of God fully known, and you’re going to communicate wisely, and you’re going to try to move people to a place of maturity … you’re going to have to work hard. That’s just what Paul did. He toiled and struggled with God-given strength (Colossians 1:29).
- Pray without ceasing. Paul urged the Colossians to “continue steadfastly in prayer.” He wanted them to be “watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). He also asked them to pray that God would “open to us a door for the word” (Colossians 4:3). Preachers and missionaries should always pray for open doors.
- Make the gospel clear. Paul wanted to make the gospel of Jesus Christ “clear” (Colossians 4:4). He didn’t want to be the funniest preacher. He didn’t want his listeners to be in awe of his intelligence. He just wanted to make the good news about Jesus as clear as possible.
- Make the best use of your time. Preachers and missionaries are often tempted to spend their time on “lesser” tasks. We must always remember that our time to talk about the Kingdom is limited. We must always try to make the best use of the time which we have been given (Colossians 4:5).