The Work of Love: Colossians 4 (1)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 25.4, 5
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
Sing Psalm 25.4, 5
(Festal Song: Revive Thy Work, O Lord)
Make me to know Your ways, teach me Your paths, O Lord!
My Savior, all day long I wait and seek You in Your Word.
Read Colossians 4.1-3
1. How should we pray?
2. What “ought” Paul – and we – to speak and make manifest?
Paul is never very far away from the “under the heavens” (cf. Ecclesiastes) theme that marks all his writing. He is constantly aware that we have a Master in heaven Who knits us together in love, and Who calls us to bring our praise, thanks, and supplications to Him in prayer.
Here are important instructions concerning the work of prayer. First, we must continue in it. Prayer should be the air we breathe, the praise and supplications we exhale all day long (1 Thess. 5.17; Lk. 18.1).
Second, we should pray earnestly. That Greek word indicates intense effort, struggling through difficulty, devoting oneself, and persisting. Prayer is hard work, as the ancients knew: orare est laborare – to pray is to work.
Third, we must be vigilant in prayer, always ready to enter prayer for every situation, person, or need we encounter throughout the day.
Fourth, our prayers should always include thanksgiving (cf. 1 Thess. 5.18; Phil. 4.6, 7). Giving thanks keeps us focused on God and makes our prayers an offering appropriate to Him Who does all things well and works all things together for our good.
Finally, pray for those entrusted with the ministry of the Word. And that means all of us who have been called as witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1.8). No matter the difficulties, obstacles, hindrances, or other complications that litter our Personal Mission Field, we should pray for open doors to talk about Jesus and be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us (1 Pet. 3.15).
If we continue in prayer, looking always to our Master and King (3.1-3), we will continue in faithfulness as saints of the Lord.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Some of us oversee, or are responsible for, other people. We might be parents, or spouses, or employers. The first mandate we receive is: Give! “Give what is just and fair” (4.1). Keeping foremost in our minds that God is The Boss of us, and we answer to Him for everything we do, think, and are.
Reminds me of a time many years ago when our dear granddaughter (she now has two children of her own) was staying with us. I encouraged her to finish her lunch at which time she said, “You’re not the boss of me!” So cute. But not accurate. I was the boss at that moment because her mother had made me the boss.
I fear we sometimes have that same attitude toward God. You’re not the boss of me we think. I can do whatever I please! Not so cute, and definitely not accurate.
Paul reminds us here to be just and fair to others because indeed we do “have a Master in heaven” who observes everything that we do (4.1).
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Prov.15.3).
“I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies, for all my ways are before You” (Ps.119.168).
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb.4.13).
Being just and fair to others, “giving up threatening” (Eph. 6.9), is how our Boss wants us to treat those over whom we have authority. Is it the right thing to do, and God sees us do it.
1. How do justice and fairness demonstrate the love of Jesus which binds us together?
2. How do your prayers match up to the way Paul instructs us to pray in these verses?
3. How can such prayer make us more ready and willing to submit to God as our Boss?
[Y]ou, too, if you want to be victorious, listen to the apostle say, “Be assiduous in prayer, being wakeful.” This is the most glorious fight of the Christian, not to presume upon his own strength but always to implore the assistance of God. Caesarius of Arles (470-543), Sermons 103.5
Keep me in prayer today, O Lord, so that I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 25.1-3, 8-10
Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord for this day (Rom. 12.1, 2). Ask Him to direct all your paths in mercy and truth, and that you may have strength to keep His covenant and all His Word.
Psalm 25.1-3, 8-10
(Festal Song: Revive Thy Work, O Lord)
I lift my soul to You; O Lord, in You I trust.
Let me not come to shame, nor let my foes o’er me exult.
All they who wait on You shall never come to shame.
Yet they to shame shall come who stand against Your holy Name.
Upright and good are You, You lead us in Your way.
The humble You instruct in truth and guide him day by day.
The paths of God are all of love and faithfulness.
All they who keep His covenant the Lord will surely bless.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scripture are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.