Having passed my “three score years and ten” that David talks about in Psalms 90:10, I’m wondering how much strength I have to make the half a decade more to fill my fourscore. This is the same Psalm that he declares a thousand years is as yesterday or even a portion of last night to our Lord.
I’m quite often reminded of the little note to Archippus that Paul inserted in his letter to the Colossians: “…Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” (Colossians 4:17) There is not much said else about Archippus, in fact all that we know of him is found in two verses, here and in Philemon 1. We know he was a part of Philemon’s family or at least his local church. And we know that Paul called him his ‘fellow soldier’. My Army GRANDson would call him Paul’s “Battle Buddy”.
So I looked up the meaning of his name, Archippus. In the Bible dictionary I found that it comes from a couple of Greek words: arche that means ‘chief, leader or ruler’; and hippos, which is the word for ‘horse’. I suppose my own translation would be the ‘head wrangler’ or maybe the “HOSS BOSS”.
But look again at Paul’s personal note to his Battle Buddy: “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it.”
Two things that us old preachers need to be told –repeatedly and often! Seems to me that the most common parting words between us is “take it easy”. And the most common from my wife is that which I always heard from my Mother: “Be Careful”. I stopped Mother one time and asked, “I am a grown man now, almost 70 years old, Mother. When are you going to quit telling me to ‘be careful’?”
Her quick response, with a twinkle in her eye was, “When I quit being your mother!”
My wife has taken up her habit and sends me out with the same instructions. I began to ask her “How do I be careful?” After the first few times I challenged them, Mother said, “I don’t care how, but just do it.” But Eleanor has finally found an answer that seems to suit her: “Don’t text and drive!”
I don’t think Paul was warning Archippus about his chariot driving. But to what must we old preachers need to be reminded and pay especial attention? I do not want to give you a whole long list but I can tell you that what is first on my list: Do Not listen to the conventional wisdom and common parting shot. Do Not take it easy! A note I penned in the back of my Bible years ago says:“The need is great, the hour is late, for Jesus sake don’t hesitate.”
As the old man said to his wife when his clock struck 13 times in the middle of the night, “Ma, get up quick! It is later than it has ever been!”
There never has been a time when Christians, preachers and missionaries especially need to be instructed, encouraged and prodded to press on with renewed vigor and zeal. And especially those of us who are pushing the limit of man’s promised time, MUST be ever more diligent and determined to press on! If there were ever a time when “there are many adversaries”, as Paul found in Corinth, we are living in it. But bless God, HE still opens great doors to those who are prepared and pressing on!