We have been discussing practical steps toward spiritual maturity. We could just as easily call these the marks of spiritual maturity because the absence of these do indicate immaturity. It is difficult to place a greater value on one of these steps than on the others but one which is perhaps more visible than the rest is service to God.
Note: Colossians 1:24 - 2:3
I. The Call to Serve.
A. "...the church whereof I am made a minister..."
1. minister = servant
2. Paul said, I was made a servant of the church.
3. It was God who placed him in this position of servitude to the church.
4. NOTE: Romans 12:3-5
a. It is God who calls us to serve
Romans 12:1-5, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
b. All of us are to serve, but our service is not the same.
c. The prerequisite to service is consecration of our entire being to Christ.
5. NOTE: Eph. 4:11-16
a. The purpose in God calling apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers is to "perfect" or mature the saints (Christians).
b. When the believers begin to mature they will do the work of the ministry (service).
c. Which will edify (build up) the body of Christ (church).
d. This is a continuing process of maturing.
e. Every part of the body is necessary to the whole.
f. Our service must continue until the Lord calls us home - there is no other stopping place!
B. Our call to serve carries with it a tremendous responsibility.
1. In I Cor. 12:1 - Paul warns us not to be ignorant!
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant."
2. We have all received at least one spiritual gift. vs. Ro. 12:7,11,18
a. As we said before it may not be the same as someone else in the church.
b. Everyone cannot teach or preach but we all have been made servants of Christ.
3. Peter tells us to serve as "good stewards" - NOTE: I Peter 4:10.
a. A steward is one who has been entrusted with the possessions of another.
b. God has given us a spiritual gift, which He expects us to use for His glory. cf. Luke 19:13
"And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come."
c. The key to being a good steward is faithfulness to God. cf. I Cor. 4:2
"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
d. Along with the responsibility of stewardship comes the account- ability. NOTE: Luke 12:48
"But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
II. The Goal of Service.
A. To honor the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. As Christians, everything we do (or do not do in some cases) reflect upon our Saviour Jesus Christ.
2. The goal of our service ought to be to honor and glorify Him rather than ourselves.
3. Christ is honored through the work of the Spirit. Note: Jn. 16:14 "He shall glorify me..."
4. Christ is honored through the fulfilling of the Word of God. cf- v 25.
5. All spiritual gifts are ministries of the Word - not just preaching and Christ is exalted through the proper exercise of that gift.
B. To bring other Christians to maturity.
1. NOTE: vs. 28, "...we preach that we may present perfect..."
2. Paul speaks about the corporate growth of believers through their mutual ministry of love. cf Ep 4:16
"From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
3. Remember the example of Eparhras in Col. 4 12 - his goal in service was to see them reach maturity.
III. The Cost of Service.
A. It involves suffering. vs. 24
1. We have already dealt extensively with the relationship of suffering and maturity in previous studies.
2. Here Paul simply reminds us that often our suffering serves a Divine purpose.
3. While writing this epistle Paul was a prisoner in Rome. NOTE: Eph. 3:1
4. He could rejoice in his sufferings for the church.
5. Someone wrote, "There are no gains without pains."
B. It requires exertion. vs. 29
1. We must work to serve God, it doesn’t come easy.
2. Paul speaks of laboring and striving in his service.
3. Christ never said it would be anything but hard work.
Matthew 9:37-38, "Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."
4. We need to work together in our service. NOTE: Ph. 1:27
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
C. It offers great rewards.
1. Nothing gives such rewards and blessings as exercising gifts for ministry.
2. All of the rewards may not be realized in this life, but in the life, that is to come they will be.
3. Mt 5:12, "Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven..."
4. NOTE: Col. 3:23-24
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."