Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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December 14 – The Stewardship From God

“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, 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, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints.  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.” Col. 1:24-27

Devotional Thought For The Day

It is a fascinating concept, that “Christ’s afflictions” are ongoing and will be “filled” by those who are His servants, and those who are His people.  You remember that Jesus told His disciples: “in the world you will have tribulation but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]  It is a remarkable privilege, whenever we suffer for the sake of Christ and His kingdom, for in His Word God indicates that we are participating in Christ’s suffering, are partners with God in His long-suffering patience with people who are enmeshed in evil, impenitence, unbelief, and violent rebellion against God.  Such shared afflictions are for great good, for “the sake of His body, that is, the church.” God is always working all things together for the good of His people, the church, even the suffering and affliction that comes our way simply because we are faithful Christians.  More of this may be coming in the next few months and years, to Christians living in America – so we need to be aware and prepared – so that we may always take heart and be of good cheer.

In the verse just prior to these, Paul identified himself as “a minister of the Gospel.” In these verses he identifies himself as “a minister of the church.”  These two are synonymous – and great evil ensues when we forget that all ministry of the Gospel is ministry to the church, and that to “serve” the Gospel” one must be “serving” the church.  There are no independent free-wheeling servants of God and servants of the Gospel, who ride freely across the range of this world like heavenly cowboys, answerable to none and free from all. No, as much as it may grieve our sinful nature, our sense of pride, our desire for autonomy and authority, all servants of God are servants of the church – for the church is the body of Christ.  To serve Him we must be serving His body, the church.  Likewise, all servants of the church are servants of God’s Word, Holy Scripture, the Bible [“to make it fully known”] – for “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  There is no real and genuine good that comes from anything that does not conform to His Word.  This is the genuine “stewardship” that true servants of God have received from Him, and we may have to suffer even within the church for faithfulness to this stewardship.  But everything else is fraudulent and facetious.

What is being delivered in the ministry of the Gospel, the ministry to the church, the ministry of God’s Word, is well worth whatever suffering, affliction, or sacrifice is involved.  It is “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints.”  It is a mystery that is richly glorious, of far greater value than anything else in this world – “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  To the unbelieving, even if they falsely identify themselves as His “saints,” this is just so much “gibbledy gook.”  They are working to get to Christ and to heaven, not allowing Christ to dwell in them by faith so that He might work His glory in them.  This is what happens where there is no “ministry” of the Gospel, no ministry to the church, no ministry of God’s Word, the Bible. There is no genuine faith, hence no indwelling of Christ, and hence no real glory – only wax fruit, regardless of how shining and appealing it may appear.  But for believers, in whom Christ Himself dwells [for they are His body], there is no greater joy – even in afflictions – than the loving presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in us!

It is God’s choosing – if He has so blessed you then praise Him for His gracious and merciful love. If He is even now calling you to such faith and glory, do not shut your heart against Him.  If you are His servant, make sure you understand the nature of the stewardship He has given you.  Remember too, and take heart, that we will be “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.”  But the sure hope of glory that He has given us, glory which He is fulfilling in us even now, cannot even be compared with the light momentary afflictions of this world. [Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17]

Scripture Cited

Rom. 8:18  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

2 Cor. 4:17  “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, what wondrous blessing that in the ministry to which you have called Your saints, we are able to participate in Your afflictions.  Remind us that we are Your body, all believers, and that if we are to serve You we must be serving Your church, and that if we are to serve Your church we must be servants of Your Word. Grant us full joy, confidence, and contentment with Your indwelling presence and the glory You are preparing us for.  Amen.