Paul, the New Testament Apostle, gets right to the point about what the gospel does when he writes to the church at Colossae. InColossians 1:3-5, he affirms their faith, and their love of other people. But he says something curious after that affirmation. He argues that their faith, and their love of others comes from a confident expectation of a future reward in Heaven. In other words, he points out that what they believe about the future was having an impact on what they were doing at the moment he wrote the letter. He goes on to point out how this gospel was not only producing fruit in them, but all over the whole world as well (Colossians 1:6). He explains that the gospel was producing fruit for them because they understood the grace that had been afforded to them. Paul makes two points here. The first is that a belief about the future motivated their behavior, and the second, is that an understanding of the past was producing fruit. The Colossians understood that God had given them a gift they didn’t deserve out of a love and commitment he had for them that they didn’t deserve, and this understanding was changing and shaping them in profound ways.
As he continues, he tells them that he is praying that God will give them spiritual wisdom and knowledge so that they will produce even more fruit, and please the Lord with their lives (Colossians 1:9-10). He then makes – perhaps – the strongest statement of this section of his letter. He prays that by bearing every good fruit, and living a worthy life, they will grow in the knowledge of God.
As you read Paul’s opening remarks to the Colossians, ask yourself what it is that you believe about God and his plan. Do you believe that there is a future reward for your work on earth? Do you believe that God has rescued you from the horrors of hell, the horrors of your sins, or the horrors of your own anxieties and shortcomings? If you truly believe those things, take the time to prayerfully ask some additional questions: What am I doing to love others? What am I doing to serve others? What am I doing to serve God? How am I growing in the knowledge of God? Has my spiritual wisdom expanded? What fruit do I see in my life? The answers to the second set of questions may tell you something about the truth of the answers you gave to the first set of questions.