Worth the effort
We usually have a rather negative understanding of the words “struggle” and “striving”. Maybe it’s because of our risk-adverse mentality…we don’t like pain, so we want to avoid difficult situations. Maybe it’s because of our egos…we don’t want to appear inadequate, so we skip out on anything hard.
Whatever our reasons may be – when we think about struggling, it’s assumed to be a bad thing.
Paul did not hold to this kind of thinking, at least not with his mission from God. Paul’s goal wasn’t just to get people “saved” and then move on to the next group of people. Instead, look at who Paul was willing to struggle and labor for:
We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person.
He desired that everyone who believes on Jesus would become mature in Christ. In Paul’s mind, if people are important enough for Jesus to die for, then they are important enough for Paul to labor, strive, and struggle for. He is not just being twisted up in anguish, wishing the people of the world would just get better. Instead, Paul takes specific actions – to proclaim Jesus, and then both warn and teach everyone who will listen.
Paul proclaimed the good news of the gospel wherever he traveled. After someone would believe on Jesus for eternal life, Paul would then give them their next steps – providing both cautions and encouragements for how to live their new life in Christ. However, these steps aren’t always easy to communicate, and many times these messages are hard to receive. Making sure we give clear instruction and guidance, as well as being sure that the message is correctly understood, can take great effort on our part. Paul was up front when he said that these actions were a labor for him.
However, did you notice how Paul was able to press on in this important task? As Paul labored and struggled in maturing others, he didn’t do this out of his own bull-headed effort. Instead, he trusted that Jesus would provide His strength and that strength would work powerfully through him. Paul knew that since God had given him this mission to develop and mature others, then God would provide him with the means and the strength to get through the struggles that would come.
Are there people in our lives that are worth the effort to strive and labor for their maturity? You bet there are. But we can’t just sit around and wish that they would mature or that someone else will help them along. We need to be the ones to proclaim Jesus, and then be willing to both warn and teach those whom God has placed in our path.