Sunday, January 28, 2018
Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. (NIV)
Did you know there are at least three versions of the New International Version? I bring this up because in this verse, Paul used the word struggling and in another version of the New International Version it says contending.
Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. And yet he was contending for the faith. He struggled to see the truth about Jesus Christ spread to all the world, to all people.
What do you suppose Paul meant? Do the English words actually convey what he was saying? The word struggling brings to my mind a wrestling within myself. It may be a wrestling with God or a struggle between me and my flesh.
Contending, on the other hand, brings to mind the picture of a boxing match. The battle is more with foes outside myself.
Paul may have been speaking of a struggle to write the letter to the Colossians and the one to the Laodiceans that he mentions. I can relate to that. Putting the words together to share with others can be a struggle. This may be confirmed by his next statements. Read on.
2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (NIV)
Paul’s purpose, his goal, in this struggle is that people may ultimately know Christ. In this sentence Paul uses two phrases that indicate purpose. One purpose leads to another purpose. Goals within goals, but the ultimate goal is that people, and in this case specifically the Colossians and Laodiceans, would know Christ, the mystery of God.
Wisdom and knowledge, at least the best wisdom and knowledge come with knowing Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge come to us through knowing, through living in a relationship with, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is not enough to know about Him. We must know Him personally. It is our attachment to God through Jesus Christ that gives us life abundant and life eternal, that is spiritual life.
I was reminded this week of a verse where Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.
I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually” (NIV).
This is from one of Paul’s lists of character qualities that Paul wants his readers to exhibit or develop. Pray without ceasing. Pray continually. How can I ever accomplish such a feat?
Did you know that God hears every thought you think? I know we know that to be true. I want you to hang on to this. Another verse with a similar idea:
II Cor. 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)
…” take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This is a goal worthy to be pursued. Train yourself to begin seeing every thought as if it were directed to God, or coming from God. Train yourself to see every thought as a prayer. If I am thinking a thought God is hearing it and I may as well give Him the respect and honor that is due Him and direct those thoughts to Him.
If you would not say it in front of Christ, stop thinking it.
Let the thoughts we think be worthy of a conversation with the Lord of lords and King of kings. Whether you like to believe it or not, we are standing in the throne room of God. He is here. Praise Him. Thank Him. Serve Him. Love Him with every thought you think.
Knowing Christ, walking in the Spirit, living in the presence of God, being filled with the Holy Spirit. These are ways of saying this same thing, God is with us. We cannot escape His presence and I wouldn’t even if I could, because I love Him. I love Him. I love Him. Do you love Him too?
The mystery is a mystery no longer. It has been revealed. The Messiah has come. Have you accepted Him?
4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (NIV)
Knowing the truth and walking with the one who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” will keep us from being deceived by the enemy of our souls. Listening to the teachings of those who have walked with God before us. We need to study to show ourselves to be workmen who are approved by our Lord.
The enemy’s lies will always sound good to us. Our flesh will always be pulled to go its own way. We must crucify the flesh, put off the old man and listen to the Word of God. We are not called to please ourselves but to please the One who made us, Our Creator.
Paul’s purpose in writing was to help the followers of Christ to know Him. His desire was to encourage us and to unite us around the gospel. He wanted to help us to understand these truths so that we could truly know Christ.
5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (NIV)
He calls us to continue to live in Christ Jesus. He wants us to be strengthened in our faith in Him. There is no better way to live. We were taught to accept the truth as it was taught by the writers of the New Testament.
We are tempted to give up and to abandon our faith in God. In Christ there is victory. Apart from Him is death and the destruction of our souls.
“…overflowing with thankfulness.”
Do we understand how great it is to know these truths? If we know Him like Paul would have us know Him, we will be overflowing with thankfulness. How could we not be thankful? All the good we know and experience comes down from the Father. We are the children of the King of Heaven. God loves us and that is a good thing.
He is Lord and that is also a good thing. His commands and wisdom will lead us to the best possible lives we could live.
I was reminded this week that the world does not understand what a good life is. So many have been deceived into thinking that life is about having fun and living for the pleasures of the flesh, and trying to get others to love us.
We are treasured by God. We do not need to earn His love, we just need to accept it. When we live for ourselves we leave God out of our lives and we miss knowing just how important we are to God.
When we ignore His teachings, we cheapen our own value.
Having sex outside of marriage is not just forbidden by God, it is forbidden by God because He loves us. Honesty is not just the best policy, it is the foundation of a healthy relationship with anyone, especially with God.
Working hard to earn a living and doing everything we do as if we are doing it for God is the way we honor God and help others to understand that we are not owners of our lives or our possessions. There is one Lord. His name is Jesus. He is the Christ, the Anointed One Sent by God to purchase our pardon and to demonstrate to us how much God loves us.
Paul does not want people to fall into the traps that our enemies lay for us.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV)
We must follow Christ and the truth He teaches if we are to truly enjoy life and live as God created us to live.
Human traditions and human logic and the basic principles of this world will not help us when we stand before Him as Judge.
Only faith in Christ will save us. Are you trusting Him to love you? Are you trusting Him to lead you?
My purpose is to please my Lord. My purpose, like Paul’s, is to help others to know Christ. Our purpose, whether you accept it as true or not, is to honor and glorify God.