To What End?
Scripture Reading — Colossians 1:24-2:5
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:29 —
Do we, like Paul, know to what end we labor?
There's an old illustration of a man climbing a ladder propped up against a high wall. The climb is steep, and the progress is slow and difficult, but the man is persistent, and he finally reaches the top of the wall, only to discover that the ladder is propped up against the wrong wall. There's nothing on the other side!
To what end do we labor?
Paul is clearly not laboring for a retirement package that will allow him to live out his old age in a cottage on the Aegean Sea. Simply put, Paul labors to exalt Christ.
There's a statement that is sometimes used at funerals: "Death is only a horizon. And a horizon is nothing--save the limit of our sight."
Paul has seen over that horizon; he's looked over the wall--and he's seen Christ, high and lifted up, with every knee bowed and every tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11). Paul knows that only what's done for Christ will last--and that all else is wasted life.
Paul labors, he says, to fill up what's still lacking in Christ's suffering. This means, I think, that as Christ suffered to give eternal life, so Paul suffers to bring that eternal life to fruition in others. With Paul, we labor in the power of the Spirit to enable all to exalt Christ.
Lord Jesus, may all that we do today, whether in word or deed, be done in your name, giving thanks to God the Father through you. In your name we pray. Amen.