Colossians opens with Paul’s prayer for the people in the church at Colosse, people he had never met. They are actually about 1000 miles away from him. Yet, he is about to spend time and energy writing to them because he cares about their spiritual health and growth.
Stop for a moment, and imagine you are Paul. You have so many important things you want to share with these people. What would you write about first?
Let’s see what Paul wrote?
Colossians 1: 1 – 8 (NLT)
“Greetings from Paul
1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
2 We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.
May God our Father give you grace and peace.
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.
7 You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. 8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.”
First of all, Paul is thanking God that the good news has spread to these people. Paul is excited that the good news about faith in Jesus “is going out all over the world”. It’s changing lives everywhere just as it has changed the lives of those in Colosse. One of the major changes that has occurred is the “love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you”. Paul mentions that in both verses 4 and 8. So … love for others is Paul’s first key message – his prayer that love for others will define Christ followers.
Is love for others a major characteristic of Christians today? I sometimes wonder. Are churches today known for their help in their communities? Would a Christian be known on their street or neighbourhood for being a helpful, caring person? If someone entered the door of a church for the first time, would they feel accepted and welcomed even in a small way? Would people talk to them? If you noticed someone coming to your church, for say 3 or 4 weeks, would you invite them for coffee?
Love is one of God’s major characteristics. Just think how patient he is with you. How patient he is with every single person. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16) If we are in a relationship with God, and serving him, shouldn’t we also be known for our love for others? For our willingness to go ‘above and beyond’?
Reread the verses posted today. Here is a group of people who Paul has never met. Paul is excited that the gospel message is spreading around the world as a result of that church’s love for others. Imagine. Would people start coming to our church if they heard it was a loving and caring place?
Sometimes I think we need to stop and examine ourselves to see if love is one of our own major characteristics. Just how much do I go out of my way to care for someone else? Just how willing am I to be kind and accepting even when I don’t agree with someone? Am I willing to even stop and talk with someone? Or am I rushing around on my own busy agenda?
It’s definitely something to think and pray about. This devotion today is not just for you. It’s for me too.
Our song for today is Love God Love People by Danny Gokey