Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On Colossians 4:12

My friend Alan Knox has begun blogging through his study of Colossians.  I encourage you to read it.  It is sure to be good.

His writing reminded me of something that happened this past Sunday during our church gathering.  I wanted to encourage everyone to understand that we all need to teach one another and be taught by one another.  This may happen is various ways, but the key is that teaching is mutual and reciprocal in nature.

In order to do this, I read Colossians 3:16, which says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (emphasis mine)

After reading this, I decided to quietly read through the remainder of Paul's letter. I noticed something I had never thought about before. In 4:12, Paul writes, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God."

Paul praises Epaphras, saying that he struggles for the Colossian church in his prayers.  Epaphras' goal is their sanctification and growth in Christ. Specifically related to this letter, my guess is that Epaphras prayed that the Colossians would both understand the preeminence of Jesus Christ and also strive to live holy lives together to honor Him.

I'm struck by the fact that Epaphras was "struggling on your behalf in his prayers."  I find this significant.  He not only prayed for his fellow Colossian Christians, but he prayed specifically for their growth in Christian maturity.

As I pray for others, I tend to ask God to provide for their physical needs, to keep them safe, and to generally bless them.  I may also pray for someone's salvation.  I confess that I hardly ever pray for the sanctification of other believers.

The Lord has convicted me about this.  From now on I hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to remember to pray - to even struggle - for the maturity of my brothers and sisters.  There is obviously some work involved in this, otherwise Epaphras would not have had to struggle at it. I'm sure that Satan does not want us to intercede on behalf of Christians for their growth in Jesus.

It may be a struggle, but I hope to change the way I pray.  I'll still pray for others, but now I'm determined to pray for their sanctification.

What about you?  Do you struggle with this?  What have your experiences been like?

4 comments:

reformedlostboy said...

I have been thinking about the same thing recently. Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3 is what got me meditating about it. His prayer demonstrates the deep and inexplicable magnitude of what we are asking for when we pray for our brothers and siters in Christ. May our eyes be opened so that we might know what is the hope of his calling.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

Your honesty about yourself is a great example for those you disciple.

Eric said...

Bobby,

That is a wonderful passage. I agree that it challenges us to pray for our church family's maturity in Christ.

Eric said...

John,

Thank you.