Colossians 1:24. “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,”
The late Oswald Chambers once said, “The more a person knows of the inner life of God’s most mature saints, the more he sees what God’s purpose really is: to fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ”.
The afflictions of Christ I believe are as vast as His goodness. John 21:25 “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”
Why would I say such a thing?
The quality of serving others is a continuous process of self-sacrifice. It requires compassion when considering others suffering. Jesus exemplified compassion on a regular basis. Matthew 14:14 “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.”
The magnitude of Christ’s afflictions has been focused on the cross, with good reason. The level of suffering Jesus endured was beyond what most can even ponder. The suffering God has endured began when man fell.
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
For death to spread throughout God’s creation, the very giver of life must have been heart broken. To see creation which was meant to reveal His glory, now corrupt, the idea brings compassion toward our King who embodies love and goodness. It’s no wonder His plan all along was to restore order to the chaos. When Jesus stepped down from His throne of unimaginable glory and assume the form of a man, He had to exceedingly humble Himself to do so.
Philippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
So, when Jesus came to this earth He came in meekness. His strength and power were not diminished, He simply chose to become like one of us. Poor, destitute, hunted by murderers, falsely accused, misunderstood, and even charged with being of Satan himself, Jesus embodied all these attributes.
So, how do we fill up in our flesh, the afflictions of Christ?
We become like Him!
There is no greater honor you can bestow upon someone than to model your life after their own. What we lack is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. The ways the Holy Spirit brings about growth, maturity and godly character is through suffering. Trials take us into the crucible to reshape us into the image of Christ. This process of forming Christ in us may not be easy, but in the end yields fruit in our life with abundance.
John 15:1-4 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
This “pruning”, is a necessary process for the Gardner to bring His garden into the goodness He originally intended.
Are you growing in God’s garden? Do you suffering affliction because of your testimony or the Spirit working in your life? If you are, you will experience great joy!
John 15:9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The joy you realize when the Lord brings you through trial and you witness His faithfulness through the entire ordeal, it strengthens your faith and builds wisdom. Jesus, suffered more than any human in existence, and yet as the cross stood before Him, He experienced this joy.
Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Why was Jesus so joyful?
He knew the outcome would be great. The trial didn’t even compare to the reward and this is what we have to look forward to as well.
Are you going through great trial, hardship or despair? Remember, when your trusting in the Lord to strengthen and guide you through, your hope will be fulfilled in the same joy of the Lord as Jesus experienced.
He promises to never leave you or forsake you.