John T. Willis

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Prayer and Loving Outsiders--Colossians 4:2-6

After a section dealing with "household guidelines" in Colossians 3:18-4:1, Paul and Timothy return to practical admonitions found in Colossians 3:5-17, and proclaim additional admonitions in Colossians 4:2-6. These additional admonitions fall into two parts: verses 2-4 and verses 5-6.

I. Prayer, thanksgiving, petition--Colossians 4:2-4.
a. Continuing, fervent prayer is absolutely essential to Christian sustenance, growth, and victory--not only individuals but the entire community of faith. Without God's daily presence, there is no hope at all. Hence, Christians must "devote themselves to prayer." See Luke 18:1-8; Romans 12:12; Acts 1:14; 2:42, 46; 6:4. The core of spiritual health is prayer. Verse 4:2a.
b. Prayer is the correct way to exercise watchfulness. Mark 13:34-35; Matthew 25:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6. This keeps the eyes and the heart focused on God above--see Colossians 3:1-2. Prayer calls for petition, but first for thanksgiving for all God our Father has done and continues to do for us. See Colossians 1:2; 2:7;
3:15-17. Verse 4:2b.
c. Intercession is imperative. Paul and Timothy urge the community of faith at Colossae to pray for them [note the words "we" and "us" here]. Specifically, Paul and Timothy yearn for God to "open a door," an opportunity (see 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2Corinthians 2:12; Acts 14:27) for them to proclaim the gospel to others. Paul and Timothy had prayed unceasingly for them (Colossians 1:3, 9). Now, they ask the Christians at Colossae to pray for them [see similarly 1 Thessalonians 5:25). Right now, Paul is in prison at Rome (see Acts 28:11-31; Philemon 9; Ephesians 6:20). This text refers to God's message as "the mystery of Christ," which Paul defines as "Christ himself" in Colossians 2:2 and "Christ in you [plural=the entire family of God]" in Colossians 1:27. In ages past, this "mystery" was hidden, but now in Christ, God has revealed it--see Colossians 1:26; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 3:16. Verses 4:3-4.

II. Proper Christian Behavior toward "Outsiders." Colossians 4:5-6.
a. In the eyes of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, it is VERY IMPORTANT for Christians individually and collectively to behave in a godly way in the mind of "outsiders," non-Christians--see 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; Mark 4:11. The people of God live in a "spiritual aquarium." Everyone can always see what is happening in the aquarium. It is only right for "outsiders" to evaluate and assess the people of God with scrutiny and critically in order to see whether Christian living is REALLY AUTHENTIC. Alleged Christians and churches are often hypocrites, fakes, phonies, pharisees, two-faced. This is why so many people reject proposed Christians and churches. Hence, Christians must "conduct themselves wisely." Verse 5a.
b. It is important for the family of God to "make the most of the the time," to seize each and every opportunity which times offers. See Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 7:29. Verse 5b.
c. The SPEECH of Christians and churches is crucial. Such speech must always "be gracious, seasoned with salt"--see Mark 9:49-50; Matthew 5:13. "Outsiders" will inevitably raise important questions. HOW Christians respond is very important. Each answer must be interesting [not dull], captivating, judicious, kind, gentle, and loving. See 1 Peter 3:15. How many individuals and churches turned searching hearts away by their arrogance and harshness and insensitivity? SPEECH is imperative. Verse 6.

These teachings are exceedingly important. Ponder over these admonitions daily. Pray over these guidelines.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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