Thursday, September 09, 2021

2021.09.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:3–8

Read Colossians 1:3–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle give to Whom (Colossians 1:3a)? When doing what (verse 3b)? For what two things is he thankful and toward whom, respectively (Colossians 1:4)? What has been the foundation of this faith and love (Colossians 1:5)? Where did they hear of this hope? Where did this gospel come, and to where has it now gone (Colossians 1:6)? What is it bringing forth? What did they hear and know, that produced this fruit? From whom, also, had they learned this grace (Colossians 1:7)? What two things does the apostle call Epaphras? What else has Epaphras declared, to whom (Colossians 1:8)?

Just as he testifies that he always does when he prays for them, so the apostle here also does as he writes to them: he gives thanksgiving to God. Let us learn to be full of thankfulness to God, so that it comes out in everything that we do!  Especially when we are going to be rebuking or warning of danger, as the apostle will be against Jewish legalisms and Greek philosophizing, we can have and communicate a right attitude if we begin with whatever thanksgiving we can give for whatever true evidences of grace we can see. By offering thanksgiving not only in his prayers but also here in the letter, the apostle models for us three great subjects of thankfulness in our prayers: the measure of God’s grace, the means of God’s grace, and the ministers of God’s grace.

First, we are to be thankful for the measure of God’s grace. Indeed, to measure this is to measure God Himself. As not only our Father in Christ, but Christ’s everlasting Father within the Godhead (Colossians 1:3), we see that in His Son, God has given Himself to us and for us. So when we praise God for giving them faith (Colossians 1:4a), and love (verse 4b), and hope (Colossians 1:5), we do so knowing the great cost at which these have all been purchased: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son!” Jesus is “our” Lord because His Father gave Him to be so.

Second, we are to be thankful for the means by which God’s grace is given us. This great gift of God Himself, with its great fruit in their lives of faith and love and hope, has come to them in a very simple fashion. True words entered their ears (Colossians 1:5b). What a marvelous gift God gives us, when He gives us to hear the words of the truth of the gospel! What extraordinary blessing He bestows on us and wonders He works in us through such an ordinary means as preaching! And it was like this not only in Colossae but in the whole world; it was the preaching of the gospel that bore this fruit (Colossians 1:6). How important, then, to stick to this preaching and reject the false self-advancement either of moralism like the Judaizers or humanistic philosophy like the Greeks.

Finally, we are to be thankful for the ministers by whom God’s grace came to us. Paul had not planted the church at Colossae; Epaphras had. Still, the apostle piles up the affectionate (“beloved fellow-slave”) and commendatory (“faithful servant of Christ”) language. There is no spirit of rivalry here—only joy over another’s labor and a desire that those who have benefited would also be grateful to God for him. He gladly affirms to the Colossians Epaphras’s Christ-wrought service. For his part, Epaphras had done quite similarly, telling Paul of the Colossians’ Spirit-wrought love. Let us learn to incubate thankfulness for believers’ graces when speaking to God, so that our speech to one another may be filled with mature thanksgiving for one another.

What gives God’s gifts to you their true measure? How does your thankfulness reflect the greatness of God’s gift of Christ? What place does this give preaching, prayer, and the sacraments in those things for which you are thankful? How do you practice fostering and expressing your thankfulness for other Christians?

Sample prayer: Our gracious God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—how glorious is Your goodness to the children of men that for us You have given God the Son! Every one of your good gifts to Your adopted children in Him come in that love—but especially that Christian faith, love, and hope that we have in heaven with Him. We bemoan before You how small our thankfulness has been—both for Your grace and for those means by which You give it to us. Help us to treasure  Your means of grace, and those believers with whom You have united us in grace, especially in the Son of Your grace, Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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