Friday – Filling Up What is Lacking in Christ’s Sufferings

By David Dickmann

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” Colossians 1:24

When Saul had been converted from an arch-persecutor of the church to a convicted sinner, God sent Ananias to lay hands on Saul that he might regain his sight. The Lord told Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name”. Saul, the great persecutor, became Paul the greatly persecuted. And what sufferings he did endure in his ministry! (See 2 Corinthians 11 for a partial list.)

In writing to the Colossian Christians, Paul includes his sufferings among the things in which he rejoices. As he states, they are his sufferings for the sake of the Colossians. Furthermore, he states “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” What do we make of this?

We know that Christ completely paid for sin on the cross; the suffering as payment for our sin was fully accomplished by Christ. God and man were reconciled at the cross, but God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. As part of this ministry, “it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). In this way we understand that there are afflictions left over for us to suffer; that as part of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation, we may participate in the afflictions of Christ as we go about our part in the work of reconciliation.

It seems God wants us to participate in the love Christ has for us, by granting us the privilege of likewise suffering at the hands of sinners who we are trying to bring to Christ. We are to love as He loved. If by our suffering we are able to lead someone to Christ, it is a thing of joy and blessing to us. Peter and John had this same attitude when they were brought before the Jewish council, “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.” (Acts 5:41)

This principle of filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s sufferings changes my attitude toward suffering. If my God would give His Son to suffer the wrath of God to bring me to Himself, I should gladly suffer the wrath of sinful man to bring sinners to Christ – rejoicing to be counted worthy of this.

Bible Reading Plan - Day 5

Judges 6-7

Ps 107:8–19

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