Life Is What You Make It: Make Room For Service
Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it. Colossians 4:17
In a Wall Street Journal blog, Marc Agronin, a psychiatrist at Miami Jewish Health, wrote, “During a routine visit with your doctor, you anticipate questions about your diet, weight, smoking and drinking. But there’s one important health-related question our doctors never ask, but should: ‘What’s your sense of purpose in life?’”
Researchers have found that purpose is as great a factor in health and longevity as exercise. It improves our body’s stress response, fosters healthier behaviors, and reduces certain risk factors for heart disease. What kind of activities? Dr. Agronin suggests “volunteering, caregiving, grandparenting, craft-making, traveling, praying, creating… it’s an endless list.”1
For Christ-followers, service comes naturally. Jesus sends us into each day with work to do, and our lives are immortal until our work is done. In Colossians 4:7-17, Paul lists ten different men who encouraged him by their lives of service. Life is what you make it. Make room for service. Ask the Lord what He wants you to do today, and do it with all your heart.
Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever our lord the king shall appoint.
Amy Carmichael, in Edges of His Ways
Colossians 4:17-18 – The Baton Has Been Passed
After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Back in my sermon-making days I approached some Sunday mornings feeling like a lowly worm. During the week before, I had not been the best husband, father, or friend. I felt that before God could use me again I had to establish a track record of right living. So I vowed to get through the sermon as best I could and try to live better the coming week.
That was not the right approach. In Galatians 3 it’s said that God continually supplies us with His Spirit and works powerfully through us as a free gift—not because we’ve done anything or deserve it.
Abraham’s life demonstrates this. At times he failed as a husband. For example, he twice put Sarah’s life in jeopardy by lying to save his own skin (Genesis 12:10–20; 20:1–18). Yet his faith “was credited to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6). Abraham put himself in God’s hands despite his failures, and God used him to bring salvation to the world through his lineage.
There’s no justification for behaving badly. Jesus has asked us to follow Him in obedience, and He supplies the means to do so. A hard, unrepentant heart will always hinder His purposes for us, but His ability to use us doesn’t depend on a lengthy pattern of good behavior. It’s based solely on God’s willingness to work through us as we are: saved and growing by grace. You don’t have to work for His grace—it’s free.
Reflect & Pray
Think of those situations in which you’ve felt disqualified. How does God look at those occasions? How do you?
I’m thankful, God, that You bless me and use me in spite of my failures. Your grace is amazing!
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.
All around the world, intolerance and persecution of Christians is increasing. And even though we may face discrimination or judgment, the reality for many of us in the West is that we will never experience similar violence or oppression. Yet persecution has been a part of Christianity’s story since its beginning. (See Acts 4-5.)
It’s an uncomfortable thought but an important one. At some point or other, we may find ourselves grappling with whether persecution is worth it. In such moments, remember what Jesus promised: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10). He wasn’t being intentionally vague; He was talking specifically about us, His followers. As Christians, we simply won’t experience fullness of life if we’re not willing to risk loving Him above all else—even if it costs us our job, our place in society, or our very life.
Think about it
- Reflect on your own experience. Have you encountered discrimination, judgment, or suffering because of your faith?
- Consider God’s promise to the persecuted. What does that tell you about Jesus’ heart for those who suffer?
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
This well-known verse contains the first use of the Hebrew verb for meditate (hagah) in the Bible and, significantly, it is a command to meditate on the Scriptures. Such meditation is not mere quietness or daydreaming but is thoughtfulness with a purpose—to obey “all that is written therein.”
Meditation for its own sake, without being centered on God’s Word, is often useless or even harmful. Witness the Western proliferation of Eastern “meditation cults” (T.M., etc.), which lead their devotees into pantheism and occultism. Isaiah 8:19 warns against “wizards that peep, and that mutter [same word as ‘meditate’].” “Why do…the people imagine [same word] a vain thing?” (Psalm 2:1).
The blessed man is the one whose “delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). That is, only if we are continually guided by the Holy Scriptures will we be happy and successful.
In the New Testament, the Greek word for meditate (melatao) is used only twice. Once it is translated “imagine” (Acts 4:25) and is in a quotation of Psalm 2:1, as above. The last time it is used, however, its emphasis reverts back to the context of its first usage, as in our text above. Paul commands us: “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine….Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Timothy 4:13, 15). Modern meditationists say that the goal of meditation is to clear our minds of “things,” but God wants us to meditate on “these things”—the life-giving, life-directing doctrines of His Word. HMM