I don’t like to be reminded of things. For some reason I have often chosen to view reminders as acts of distrust rather than encouragement. My wife will remind me of something and my response will be “I didn’t forget” rather than “thanks for the encouragement”. It is really a terrible trait and I have been wrestling with it a lot lately. I have finally realized that, like so many other responses, my view of reminders is prideful. My view wants to prove myself, wants to show that I’m not forgetful, that I’m dependable and that I am not like those who need to be reminded. The problem with this is that it is a direct rejection of one of the most important and precious commands that we are given in the New Testament, “encourage one another daily”. Pride is always attempting to get us to reject the call of God and to depend upon ourselves, to look away from Jesus and to keep our eyes on ourselves. If I don’t allow encouragement in my life I’m rejecting the command to be an encourager each day. The command is one of relationship, it is not enough to “encourage one another daily” we must also be encouraged daily, all parts must fit together and all hearts must be ready to give and receive.
At the very end of the book of Colossians, as Paul is closing out the letter, giving greetings and instructions he suddenly remembers something he wanted to share: “And, oh, yes, tell Archippus, ‘Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.’” We don’t know much about Archippus, he’s mentioned here and in the letter to Philemon. There are some church traditions, but nothing concrete about who he was or what his “job” was. All we really know is that before this letter was finished and sealed Paul felt the need to encourage this friend and brother.
As I read this verse this morning I stopped and wondered how I would have responded if I were in Archippus’ shoes. I have to admit, I might have been a bit frustrated by Paul’s need to tell others to remind me to do my task. “Is he trying to say that I’m not doing it well? Is there something I’m missing? Is he unhappy with my follow-through? Why did he have to tell the whole church to remind me, why couldn’t he have let me know himself if there was a problem?” I had to stop myself and ask another question, “What is that all about?” Sadly, it’s all about pride.
Pride puffs up but it also breaks down. It puts an unhealthy view of self in our minds that manifests through either a feeling of superiority or paranoia of being a failure. We usually view encouragement as being a weapon against discouragement, I need to pull you up when you are feeling down, but the truth is that encouragement is a weapon against pride because it breaks down our fixed attention on ourselves and reminds us of the mercy, love and purposes of God. What Paul told the church is Colosse to do was to encourage their brother. “Remind Archippus that this task was from Jesus. Encourage him not to give up and not to lose heart. Challenge our brother to trust Jesus to finish what He started. Bless our brother with your agreement that he is able because God is for him. Strengthen our brother by offering your help, love him by believing God’s promise.”
I need to be encouraged and reminded of the calling of God, the purpose of God and the grace of God. The more I read this verse and asked God about it the more of a gift I found it to be. I can now see Archippus smiling brightly as yet another brother or sister in Christ comes along and says “Do your best Archippus, Jesus has trusted you, do your best!” That’s not a word of doubt, it is a promise of rest, it is an agreement of calling, it is a song of deliverance and it is an exhortation of truth. And so to all of my Archippus’, press on, push forward, hold fast and pray without ceasing. Jesus has chosen you, He loves you, He has equipped you and He will finish all that He has prepared for and promised you. To those that surround me, I give you free reign: remind me, encourage me, challenge me and stand with me. Your reminders are my gift and your encouragement is God’s weapon against my pride and the enemy’s lies. I don’t know for sure if Archippus finished his task, but I just have a feeling in my soul that he did. I just have an idea that every time he got tired someone remembered the letter, that every time he got frustrated that someone reminded him of the letter, that every time he felt rejected that someone reminded Him of the Master and that every time he wanted to do it his way and in his time that someone encouraged him to trust the One who called him. I long to finish this race and to reap the harvest of righteousness that has been promised so I say “And, oh, yes, tell Abie (insert your name and that of everyone that God puts on your mind today), ‘Do your best in the job you received from the Master. Do your very best.’” Thanks for the reminder, I need the encouragement!