What keeps you awake at night? Many of us, to include myself, have trouble falling asleep due to the many pressures that come with living in this life. Bills, new duties at work, deadlines, etc. There is no shortage of issues that can cause anything but a restful night.

What about the church? What keeps you awake at night in regards to the church? When was the last time that you laid awake at night, concerned about the saints in your local church? Maybe your concern is with their continued absence from Sunday morning. Maybe its their lack of service to the body. Maybe your fear is that they aren’t growing in their relationship with Christ. These are real and as a pastor, I really do count sheep at night. Christ’s people are constantly on my mind.

Paul who was known to at times be a biovocational Apostle, writes that he “toils” and “struggles” in his ministry to the church (Col 1:29). What in the world was he doing that would cause so much energy? He wanted Christ’s people to be mature and steadfast in the faith. He wanted to see their faith active in the lives of believers so they could serve each other and defend the gospel of Christ.  He writes:

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.

(Colossians 1:24-29 ESV)

His work in the church and dependance on God is an example yes, but it also points to Christ in how He provided for us as well. Philippians 2 states that Christ humbled Himself in adding to His divinity humanity. Not just in that, but He also went to the cross and died a sinners death for those who would believe in Him.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, 3 being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Colossians 1:29 ESV)

Here we have the example of the ultimate servant. Who served us to the end. What should be our response then to such a wonderful work?

Here is how you can participate in a holy toil today for your church.the_struggle
Be committed to praying for your pastors and members of your local church. That they would be digging into the Word of God and seek opportunities to proclaim the gospel to self, neighbor, and co-workers.
Be committed to serving the your local church with the gifts the Holy Spirit has deposited in you. The church needs your gift and Christ has given it to you for the express purpose of serving Him in His church.
Be committed to the study of doctrine. Yes doctrine! Doctrine is nothing more than God revealing Himself through the Bible. What the Bible says about Him and how he has communicated His salvation to us. We must not only proclaim the gospel, but also to defend it. There is a battle for the truth and we are ambassadors of truth to this world. Servants of the light. Bringing God’s truth to a fallen world. Know your Lord!
Can anyone else think of ways to serve in this way?


One thought on “Three ways Christians can Toil for their Church

  1. Hi Matthew,
    In answer to your first question, “What keeps you awake at night?” I’d say in order:
    1. The things I still have to do.
    2. People I’m frustrated with. I’m ashamed to put this, but it’s true.
    3. Things I forgot about during the day that I remembered when I laid down.

    I like the phrase “holy toil.” Makes me think of “sanctified struggle.” The good work we’re doing for the Lord, exhausting ourselves on things for His Kingdom. Thanks for the three practical reminders at the end.

    Thanks for you service Brother!


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