Volume XXXVIII, #34: More Fully Occupying Our Own Houses
“And say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you
may fulfill it'” (Colossians 4:17).
EACH OF US IS A PACKAGE OF PARTICULAR HUMAN ATTRIBUTES. Some of these are birth-gifts from God, while others are specifics we have brought into being by using (and sometimes misusing) the raw materials that were available to us. A human life is “a mixed bag,” a curious assortment of things good and not-so-good. And the challenge is to take our own individual specifics, which are always less than perfect, and get all the good out of them that we can in the time allotted to our stewardship.
In the text above, Paul wanted the Colossian Christians to relay an interesting message to a brother named Archippus: “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” We don’t know what Archippus’s particulars were, but whatever they were, God wanted him to understand the importance of doing the work that he, Archippus, had been given to do. In the end, the only person’s work we will be held accountable for is our own. But what an accounting that will be!
In another of his letters, Paul described Christians as the Lord’s “body,” and he asked these searching questions: “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?” (1 Corinthians 12:15-17). God intended the body to be as it is.
Wishing we had someone else’s circumstances (a tendency many of us have) seems all the more childish when we recognize how much room for expansion and growth there is within our own circumstances. Few of us have ever done more than explore the edges of our own territory. All of our individual regrets and hindrances notwithstanding, we each have gifts we’ve never used. And while we are busy wishing we could serve God within the framework of someone else’s ministry, He is no doubt saying to every one of us: “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
“Men resemble great deserted palaces: the owner occupies only a few rooms and has closed off wings where he never ventures” (François Mauriac).