We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about ⌊this hope⌋ in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth. (Colossians 1:3-6, HCSB)
After addressing his letter to the Colossians, Paul begins his missive as he often does, with thanksgiving. Elsewhere he taught “ Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6, HCSB).” Apparently he lived that out. Remember, he’s writing from a Roman prison cell.
Paul lets the church know that THEY are the source of his gratefulness. Of course, the church at Colossae was not perfect (as we’ll see in weeks to come), nevertheless God’s doing great things in their midst. Their faith is growing as is their love for one another.
But there’s more than just the church in Colosse. Paul takes a step back to show them the big picture: They are just SOME of the fruit that is growing in the worldwide expansion of the gospel.
Like Paul, I’m grateful for you…but his worldview convicts me. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day, week to week ministry of the local church that I often forget the big picture. Whether it’s because I’m too busy or too self-centered, my prayers mostly concern our church. To be sure, God is doing great things here, but we are just a miniscule piece of the worldwide puzzle. God has family all over the world.
Recently we were reminded of this as part of our body faces horrendous persecution at the hands of Muslims. Thank you for your financial gifts. We gave $2,500 to feed, clothe, and comfort these brothers and sisters in Iraq. But we must not give and then forget. Paul reminds us that these family members deserve top billing in our prayers to the Lord.
So I will continue to pray for you and give thanks to God for you…but I intend to expand my horizons.