Many important points were made clear in Paul’s short letter to the Colossians, including the truth that Jesus is supreme above all and that He should be the focus of our lives. An embrace of those facts will shape our relationship with Him and with people. Connecting with others in honest ways about both the good and the trying situations can be a great place to start to share God’s faithfulness and care. Paul did this as he signed his letter: I, Paul, [add this final] greeting, writing with my own hand. Remember I am still in prison and in chains. May grace (God’s unmerited favor and blessing) be with you! Amen (so be it). Paul did not gloss over the fact that he was in prison, and it was from that position that he wrote about God’s grace. He was experiencing the goodness of grace and he wanted others to participate in God’s blessing. When we correspond with people, may we ask for God’s blessing and favor to be upon those who receive our letters. Blessings are a good thing to share! I love how Proverbs 25:25 communicates this idea in an easy-to-picture way. It says that good news from a distant land is like the blessing of cold water when you have a parched throat. Paul knew how to quench the thirst of others and he was good at offering Jesus who is Living Water for our souls, for our very lives.
Be encouraged in faith, united in love and really unpack the treasures of wisdom that are hidden in Christ. That is what Paul desires for those who are growing in Christian maturity. The Amplified Bible expounds on this idea wonderfully: [For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One).
When we first moved to China, I saw knitters everywhere. Some were old ladies or young girls, some sat in small shops, others were squatting along the edge of the road, and some looked like they were sleeping but their hands were busy working a wide spectrum of yarn colors, knitting them into all sorts of practical items. Even though people have tried to teach me, I do not know how to knit. I am in awe of how a ball of yarn put onto two needles clinking next to each other produces a brilliantly creative and useful outcome. That is the picture of how we are to be as we develop in the process of loving God and loving people. Loving well, like knitting, requires training and skill, and it might come more naturally to some people than to others. But we all increase our ability to love (or knit) the more we practice. May this love of ours expand and never come unraveled.
Well, Paul did make it to Rome, but not in the timeframe or along the route he had planned. While he was in Jerusalem the crowds tried to kill him and then Paul was arrested but was allowed to give his testimony about how Jesus changed his life. This led to a two-year imprisonment in Jerusalem. During his time in prison as he awaited trial, several prominent leaders heard the gospel from Paul. Paul appealed to Caesar and so he was sent to Rome and survived a shipwreck along the way. He lived under house arrest in Rome for another two years. These days, weeks and months were not wasted in self-pity, but lived with purpose. Paul empowered the believers in Rome and also served the Lord by writing letters.
Four of these wisdom-filled letters written during this time are included in the New Testament. Believers who lived in a heavily pagan-influenced area benefitted greatly when they received one of Paul’s letters. To the saints (the consecrated people of God) and believing and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace (spiritual favor and blessing) to you and [heart] peace from God our Father. The best way to share blessings and peace with others is to do so out of a heart that is filled with God’s grace and peace. Paul was able to authentically offer grace and peace for he had contentment in less-than-best living conditions. His life is a good example for us. Let’s not wait until the situation is just right to live the abundant life that Jesus offers.
It was also during his Roman imprisonment that Paul wrote to his friend Philemon and we get to read that letter a little later in God’s Story. Tucked into the letter that Philemon received was a jewel of wise counsel. Paul said that as we share our faith, we will gain a full understanding of every good thing we have in Jesus. Let us share, and not stockpile, the good that we have, because when we do so, our understanding of this good makes more sense to us. May it lead us to be appreciative and to generously offer grace and peace to others.