As Paul sits under house arrest for two years, he makes the most of his time. Not only is he teaching people personally as they come to his home, but his influence is also carried back to the churches he has helped establish, through letters delivered by his friends. If Paul lived in our day, I believe he would have been a blogger! He loved encouraging his brothers and sisters through his writing. How blessed we are that God inspired Paul’s letters and has preserved them for our spiritual understanding!
Paul wrote four “prison epistles” during this time: Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians. Today we’re reading Colossians and Philemon, which were delivered at the same time by Tychicus (a fellow minister) and Onesimus (the escaped slave who is the topic of the letter to his master, Philemon).
The letter to the Colossians focuses on the supremacy of Christ. His sacrifice on the cross is all-sufficient for salvation. Paul warns about false teachers who would deceive the believers through empty philosophy, human traditions, asceticism, legalism, and a fascination with visions and spiritual experiences, all things which can draw our hearts and minds away from the purity and simplicity of the gospel. He urges the believers to stay rooted and grounded in Christ alone, to live holy lives that please God and to remain faithful and enduring under persecution. His goal for them is spiritual maturity, and I see three practical keys to continued growth as a believer as Paul describes his own passion for the believers.
“He [Christ] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28)
If we want to be “fully mature in Christ,” we must continually be reminded of (and sharing) the gospel (Christ proclaimed); we must be admonished (corrected, reproved, encouraged to live holy lives); we must be taught (increase in our knowledge of God’s word and character), and we must grow in wisdom (application of knowledge in practical day-to-day obedience). Later, Paul urges us to set our hearts and minds on things above, indicating that spiritual growth affects not only our thinking but also our feelings and desires. We know what is wrong intellectually, and we also lose our desire for it. That’s true spiritual transformation!
What’s the takeaway? Is the gospel a priority in your life? Do you have mentors that will speak honestly into your life (and do you listen)? Are you spending time in God’s word, and do you apply it to your life? If you do these things, the Spirit of God will transform your mind and heart into Christlikeness, and you will live a life worthy of the Lord.