“1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 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 6 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. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.”
The vertical dimension of faith then leads to the horizontal element of:
Because of what Jesus had done in their lives, these believers got busy loving “all” of God’s people. This love that they lavished on others was agape love which has sacrifice as its key character and is displayed in actions. Love is a transforming act because it is faith in motion as Galatians 5:6 says, “…the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Live in love, and love to live. 1 Corinthians 13 concerning the love we should portray says “Love is patient; …. love is kind; ….love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; …. it is not irritable or resentful; ….. it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, ….but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, ….believes all things, …..hopes all things, …..endures all things. …… Love never ends.” Are you living to love, are you practicing love and letting it permeate your life? Today do we really consider love a thriving aspect of living? God does and the time we stop loving is the time we stop living. Notice that they didn’t just love those they liked, they loved from the least to the beast. Our tendency is to love some not all, we want to pick and choose based on how we feel instead of being moved by faith. Sure there are those who are hard to love but remember Jesus loved Judas so what’s our excuse? Don’t just stop at liking others, let go and lavish God’s love on them.
Our shared faith and mutual love result in our common “hope that is stored up for you in heaven.” Faith and love spring from hope because hope is the root, faith is the plant and love is the fruit. Because God has “laid up” hope for us in heaven, we can have full confidence in our faith and express our love without holding back. We don’t have to vaguely wish for something better to come when we have complete confidence in the reality of heaven. Why have faith in Christ if there is no hope for a glorious future? Why love others if it doesn’t matter in the end? Hope makes all the difference because we have a confident expectation that everything God says in His Word is true. Hope is stored up for us like a treasure, John MacArthur said one of the blessings of hope is it allows us to sacrifice the present on the altar of the future. How contrary this is to human nature, we live in a world that wants what it wants and it wants it now. We are a people who whine if we have to wait, we would rather sacrifice the future on the altar of the immediate. But if we really believe God our focus would be on the future. We would have a proper perspective and be willing to sacrifice the present comfort for that which is to come. In contrast to the buy now pay later attitude that has permeated our culture Christian’s should be paying now and picking up later. Why would we be willing to make such a sacrifice? Hope, based on faith, because we believe that the future holds something far better than the present. Colossians introduces us to God’s trilogy of virtue, faith, love, and hope. Faith is the soul looking upward to God; love looks outward to others; hope looks forward to the future. Faith rests on the past work of Christ; love works in the present; and hope anticipates the future. Not only was Paul thankful for the body but also the:
The Gospel is the truth of God the good news available to all and Paul rejoiced because the gospel was going out “all over the world.” The gospel that came to the city of Colossae is the same gospel going around the globe. God has one message of good news, one word of truth for everyone. The gospel is to be shared with others because it is the word of truth and there is no other truth worth proclaiming. Christians should be committed to proclaiming the good news of the gospel not just in their community but in every continent. It is the Gospel that produces life and growth and Paul says it’s the Word that changes lives. It amazes me how many made resolutions for change without ever including the reading of God’s word. We want to change our bodies but what about our beliefs, we want to change our health but what about our hearts? Are you thankful for the truth, is the Gospel of God’s good news penetrating and permeating your life? Paul was also thankful for:
- BROTER EPAPHRAS
He was a fellow servant and a “faithful minister of Christ.” He faithfully took the message of grace to them and Epaphras both evangelized Colossae and edified the believers. The verb “learned” is the basis of the word “disciple.” He was a native of Colossae (4:12) who was probably converted to Christ while visiting Ephesus during Paul’s stay there. He then returned to his city and began the church. He was vigilant in prayer and loyal to the point of being will to suffer whatever hardships necessary to serve the church as Christ’s ambassador. If you were mentioned in the Bible, what would be said of you? God’s plan has always been to use us to bring the good news of the gospel to a dying world. Epaphras was faithful in spreading the seed are you? Today more than ever we need bold believers willing to share their faith. Are you thankful for brothers and sisters who share God’s Word? What if instead of seeing people as a pain you took the time to praise God for the blessing of other believers? This week when you pray instead of praying prayers that start with, “Lord, please give me…” begin your prayers with thanks for all that God has done. Several years ago I encouraged families to start a Blessings box or jar. I asked them to take the time to write out their “blessings” on small slips of paper and add them to their box as they happen. Then at the end of each month sit together as a family and take turns reading all of the blessings in your box. This week would you be willing to identify one person that you have a hard time loving and ask God to help you lavish His love on them. Instead of seeing this as a pain and a problem start look at it as a privilege, because of this person you have the opportunity to put your faith into action and practice love.