Colossians 1:24-29 (ESV)
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. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.
What does Paul mean that in his flesh, he is filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions? Surely when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it?
Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary puts it this way, “A Christian may be said to fill up that which remains of the sufferings of Christ, when he takes up his cross, and after the pattern of Christ, bears patiently the afflictions God allots to him. Let us be thankful that God has made known to us mysteries hidden from ages and generations, and has showed the riches of his glory among us.”
Jesus did tell us in Luke 9, that if anyone would come after (follow) Him, that he would have to deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. It is difficult to deny ourselves anything these days. We have instant access to just about anything we want. We must be vigilant and intentional about pursuing righteousness. This of course, will be frowned upon by the general population. Just as Jesus warned us, if they persecuted Him, they will persecute us.
When we speak of the affictions God allots to us, we do not and will not always understand what God allows, but we know that whatever it is, it will work for God’s Glory. But to bear the afflictions patiently, that is the trick.
When we are not being patient, and we suffer unrighteousness, we tend to get angry. We think that we do not deserve suffering. Yet to patiently submit ourselves as Jesus did is the challenge. How will I demonstrate today that I am patiently accepting anything God chooses for me? I don’t know. I will have to wait and see what today brings. Then hopefully I will recognize the opportunity that I may have to bear witness to my Master by willingly accepting what the Lord allows me to go through, It is in this way that we will bring condemnation upon this world, and leave a reminder for them about what our Savior suffered and why.
by Virgil Stripes
Photo: 2000? year old olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane.