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Starting the Climb
Series: "Get in the Front Seat!" A Study of Colossians
Dr. Deb Waterbury
So, here we are, attempting to get out of the back seat of our faith and get back in the front seat where we belong. What exactly does that look like? What does Paul say in the first few verses to the Colossians that can speak to us today about what that entails?
It’s interesting to note that Paul doesn’t go straight into condemning these people for straying. Remember that they have been listening to and following some false teachings in the church, basically laying aside the truths they had originally received from Epaphrus. However, instead of correcting them at the onset, Paul does what is consistent of letter writing in his time: he starts with a salutation and a statement of thanksgiving.
This may seem at first glance to be nothing more than tradition, but look a little closer. Paul has definitely started differently before. Just look at the beginning of his letter to the Galatians. He was so upset with them that he wasted no time pointing out their mistakes and sins. Yes, this is partially due to tradition, but it is much more. Paul begins by giving attention to the only area where that attention is truly deserved. Paul is commending correct actions in the Lord.
We do this all of the time when correcting our children. My mother used to say that you always attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. That may sound very simplistic, but the premise is consistent. Paul wants the Colossians to listen to his letter, and one of the best tactics for doing this is to point out what is good in their church first.
However, to say that this is all that Paul was doing here at the beginning of his letter would also be incorrect. Paul is also, and probably more importantly, pointing first and foremost to truth.
One of the biggest misdirections in today’s believing community is to give Satan way too much credit. We must be mindful of him and his schemes, but all to often we concentrate on what he is doing instead of what God is ultimately doing. Like Martin Luther said, “The devil is God’s devil.”
Consequently, Paul begins by accentuating the positive and reinforcing what is correct in their beliefs. He does so by taking them back to their roots, pointing them to “the word of truth” which had “come to them” and that they “learned from Epaphrus.”
Then Paul reminds the Colossians of the prayers that had been offered on their behalf and of what those prayers consisted. Interestingly, the prayers Paul speaks of center around the true knowledge and the evidence of that knowledge that should be evident in their lives. ...
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