“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it” (Colossians 4:17)
People who genuinely desire to serve the Lord have this encouragement that Paul gave to Archippus. Since Paul had cause to write this we can safely assume that Archippus was frustrated or having difficulty in persevering. Anyone in leadership will soon discover that there are many things that will discourage them from fulfilling the ministry that they have received in Christ. The book of Nehemiah is helpful to us in this regard.
This ministry is not from our own design or desire and it is not from the Lord but in the Lord. It comes with the Lord Jesus, not apart from Him. We need to be careful that we are sure that it is the ministry for which we are set apart in the Lord that we are seeking to fulfill. When we have that assurance, and it will be tested many times, we will persevere.
There will be many tests. Some will come in the form of criticisms or corrections and others in the form of obstacles. The Lord may send messengers to correct us and we should heed them but also the enemy of God will send messengers to “correct” us so that we either speak a lie or do not speak at all.
How may we discern the difference? It might be an easy response to say, “By knowing and applying the Bible” but if that was such a reliable way of itself why do so many come up with error? People read and even study the Bible but come up with what others would consider horrendous heresy. The Jews of Jesus earthly days knew the Scriptures yet they condemned their Messiah as blasphemous. Jesus tells us that many who read the Scriptures are blinded by Him. The same is said of Israel by the prophets.
Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to teach us and lead us into all truth. There are some today who claim to rely on the Holy Spirit for this but they still arrive at what others might consider to be horrendous heresies.
Error comes when we neglect one or the other. The Bible and the Holy Spirit are perfectly harmonious. It isn’t a matter of balance either. It is all Scripture and being filled with the Holy Spirit that will lead us to a correct knowledge, understanding and application of God’s word and will. The regular testing along the way helps us to ensure we are making correct assessments and determinations.
When messengers come claiming to correct us it is imperative that we are able to discern the origin of the correction. Satan is not above using the Bible to confuse the servants of Jesus Christ since he did that to Jesus Himself.
Paul’s desire was that Archippus fulfill the ministry that he had received in Jesus Christ and no doubt he would pray the same for us. Therefore it is good that we “take heed” or give attention to fulfilling and completing that which we have received in Jesus Christ. Do not allow discouragement, frustration, laziness, doubts or fear keep us from fulfilling all that the Lord has given us the privilege of doing in His name.