“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it'” (Colossians 4:17).
Much like some others who are mentioned in the closing verses of Colossians chapter four, Archippus is a virtual unknown. In fact, his only other Biblical appearance comes in the opening verses of Paul the Apostle’s letter to Philemon (see Philemon 1:1-2).
If we “read between the lines” of this passage, it seems that Archippus was called to fulfill a ministry responsibility that he had either delayed or left unfinished. So this brief admonishment alerts us to something important: what may have been true of Archippus also applies to us well.
You see, there are many distractions that might keep us from fulfilling “the ministry we have received in the Lord.” For instance…
- Social media, video entertainment, or similar diversions. While social media can be a valuable communication tool, we might wish to consider the possibility that we are spending an inordinate amount of unproductive time on such pursuits.
- The tyranny of the urgent. If we fail to prayerfully establish a plan or set an agenda to fulfill God’s call upon our lives, we may allow other responsibilities to pile up and crowd out the work that God has prepared for us.
- Allowing the priorities of others to take priority. Notice that Paul did not seek to manipulate Archippus or pressure him to get involved in a work that Paul wanted him to undertake. Instead, Paul acknowledged God’s agenda for his life and encouraged him to pursue it. In like manner, we should look for those who recognize and support “…the ministry which (we) have received in the Lord.” There is a list of strategies that can assist us in making that determination available here.
- Lack of visible results. Its easy to become discouraged when a ministry has not developed the way we hoped. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that “effort” and “results” are two different things. Remember that its possible to expend a great deal of effort in God’s service with little or no visible result. While there may be many reasons to explain a lack of visible success, we are responsible to put in the effort to fulfill God’s call. God’s responsibility is to produce results as He sees fit.
Finally, Jesus’ sobering conclusion to His Parable of the Talents identifies the loss we may suffer if we do not take heed to fulfill God’s agenda for our lives…
“…to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29).