We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:3-8 (NIV)
Colossians 1:3-8 answers a series of questions that help us get into the mind of the apostle Paul as he writes this letter. As I wrote in my last post, it is clear that there is a great love in the heart of Paul (and Timothy) for the believers at Colossae.
Here he continues with the same language, informing them that they are constantly in their prayers. They pray for them with thanksgiving. Why so? Because they have heard of their faith and great love for all the saints.
Paul is greatly pleased and tremendously thankful for the love that he has heard exists among the Colossians, a love that they have not only for their local brothers, but for all the saints. They have shown tremendous faith and love for Christians they had not even met. And for this, Paul thanked the Lord.
We are fortunately not left to wonder why the Colossians loved so well. Paul continues to elaborate of this, and shares that their great faith and love is caused by the hope that is reserved for them in heaven.
How astounding! These believers aren’t loving well and holding on to the faith because of a promise that they will receive now. It is not because they have heard that this is the way to grow their congregation or increase their offerings. They are not doing it because it will cause Paul to brag about them from prison to the neighboring churches that are sprouting. None of these were the reason they committed themselves in this pursuit. They are conducting themselves in this manner because of the promise of heaven. They were looking to eternity with God, and it fueled their faith and love.
How did the hope of heaven come to them?
Through the message of truth, the gospel. And here it is. Now it all makes sense. Everything that Paul has said thus far points to this truth. The Colossians met Jesus Christ. They received the message of truth, the good news of the gospel and everything that Paul has commended them on thus far, is an outpouring of that relationship.
This is a great place to pause and reflect on our own lives.
Would those who hear of how I conduct myself thank God for me? Would those who interact with me thank God for the fruits of the Spirit that they witness in my life and my conduct? Would they be able to attest that I have a great hope of eternity through Christ Jesus by how I love? Or would their testimony be different?
As we answer these questions privately, my hope is that we would have an open heart to see where we presently stand and how our lives can further point others to the gospel.
In a culture that is self-centered, we are challenged with these truths. Yet, we must transcend the limitations of our culture. Being saved is not solely about our own standing with God, it is also about pointing others to God.
It is an affront to the gospel if our lives aren’t lived with the faith and love that say “there is a God and He longs to spend eternity with you” to others. The gospel bears fruit wherever the hearers recognize it as the truth of God’s grace.
This includes you and I. The gospel is bearing fruits in our lives if we truly believe it. It is changing us and turning our hope to eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ.
This gospel of which Paul wrote and of which we speak here is powerful and amazing.
Do you remember how you first heard the gospel?
To some of us, this is fuzzy as we grew up in church. To others, the gospel came as a complete shock and left a distinct memory. I am always amazed to heard stories of how others first heard about the love of God and the truth about Jesus Christ. While our experiences are different, very few of us would say that no one introduced us to the gospel, that we simply found a Bible on a bench in a park and decided to pick it up. While this story is possible as God will surely use any means to bring His children to redemption, it is not the typical story. Most of us learned about God through another person.
For the saints at Colossae, it was Epaphras. Paul describes him as a dearly loved fellow slave (v. 7) and a faithful servant of the Messiah (v. 8).
God in His sovereign grace has chosen for us to partake in the sharing of the good news. Telling others about Christ is a mission that He sent us all on. For some of us, it will look like taking the message about God to our family; for others, it will be to our entire town, and there are those who God will send to the remote corners of the world to share this good news. No matter our sphere of influence, we must share the good news. Our obedience to the great commission will bear fruit in the spread of the gospel.
How great it will be to see believers who learned of the good news through our obedience in sharing the good news!
I thank You for these words of Scripture. I thank you for inspiring the writing of this letter Lord. I pray that the words that I read therein will shine the light on my heart and reveal where I currently stand in these areas of my walk with You. Help me to see whether I am walking in love and in faith. Please Lord, help me to grow my faith and to increase my love for others. Help me to look to the hope that I have in eternity with You and to allow it to encourage me in pursuing Your good will, even when it is uncomfortable or difficult.
Lord, please create a passion for You in me. Create a desire to grow in grace and truth in me.
In Jesus’ Name,
This post is part of a series on Colossians. Read the other posts in the series here.