The Work of Love: Colossians 4 (7)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 116.1-6
I love the LORD, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Sing Psalm 116.1-6
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise To God Who Reigns Above)
I love the Lord because He hears my cries and pleas for mercy.
Because He bends to me His ears, my prayers shall ever thus be.
The snares of death encompassed me; hell’s grip could not unloosened be;
distress and anguish pressed me.
I called to God, “O Lord, I pray, my soul redeem with favor!”
The Lord is gracious in His way, and righteous is our Savior.
His mercy to the simple flies; He lifted me up to the skies –
I rest in Him forever!
Read Colossians 4; meditate on verse 18.
1. How many ways do you see believers’ love for one another at work in this chapter?
2. What uses of prayer does Paul mention in chapter 4?
Paul begins Colossians 4 asking prayer for open doors “to speak the mystery of Christ” (v. 2). He closes the chapter by asking for prayer (“remember”) again, but this time for his “chains” (v. 18). These requests do not contradict one another – freedom to preach and house arrest in Rome (cf. Acts 28.16, 30, 31). Roman chains could not prevent the Gospel from reaching others with the welcome chains of God’s knitting and binding love (cf. Hos. 11.3, 4; Phil. 1.12-14).
Paul was knit in love to faithful colleagues (Col. 4.7-15), and through them, to the churches – like those in Colossae – which he served by his writing (v. 16). His great desire was that all believers would be more closely bonded to Christ and one another in the chains of His unfailing love (v. 13; cf. 1.28, 29).
All believers have a Master in heaven (v. 1) Whom we love, to Whom we pray (vv. 2, 3), and Who calls us, in the chains of His saving and sanctifying love, to take the mystery of Christ to our world. He is supremely just and fair; therefore, we do not hesitate to put ourselves in the yoke with Him to do the work He has appointed for us (Matt. 11.28-30). Bondservants of Christ, yokefellows in the work of the Gospel, join us in the chains of God’s love for mutual prayer, encouragement, and edification, that we might all walk in wisdom (v. 5) and show and tell the Gospel as we ought (v. 4). We should seek out such soul friends, that we might be knit together in the love of Jesus (3.14), that we might together glorify God in everything we do or say (3.17; 4.5, 6).
If we chain ourselves to this world, we’ll never know the freedom to soar above temptation, trials, fears, and doubts that comes from being chained in the love of Jesus. Remember Paul’s chains – our earthly trials and challenges, but the love of our heavenly Master – and take them upon yourself anew each day.
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Paul filled his letter to the Colossians with Christ and His glory. He was eloquent and firm concerning the Christian’s responsibility to put on love for God and neighbor.
Colossians offers abundant counsel in how to do this, and the encouragement of knowing that we have the mind of Christ to enable our success.
Then at the very end Paul signs his name and says, “Remember my chains” (Col. 4.18). For all his strength and brilliant teaching, he is, we find, human. What a comfort that is to our flagging spirits! Even Paul had to trust Christ at every moment to soldier on in this life. And didn’t he do it well?
We can too, if we put on Christ every day and live from His mind; reading and studying and meditating upon His Word and being fervent in prayer--as this is the will of God for us.
Even in our humanity and chains, remembering Paul in his chains, we can say with him: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4.7,8).
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?” “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8.35, 37-39).
Remember Paul’s chains and humanity. But remember the power he knew to be able to say, despite the chains, “Remember that Jesus Christ…was raised from the dead…for which I suffer trouble…even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things…” (2 Tim. 2.8-10) and finally, “Grace be with you” (Col. 4.18). Remember.
1. What are some worldly “chains” that can hinder our progress in the Gospel? How can we know when we have become trapped in these?
2. Paul did not allow Rome’s chains to keep him from serving Christ. How was he able to do that?
3. How can believers encourage one another to press on in our calling, regardless of worldly obstacles or hindrances?
All who thus come will receive rest as Christ’s gift, and obtain peace and comfort in their hearts. But in coming to him they must take his yoke, and submit to his authority. They must learn of him all things, as to their comfort and obedience. He accepts the willing servant, however imperfect the services. Here we may find rest for our souls, and here only. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Matthew 11.28-20
Lord Jesus, I yield to You and take Your yoke and bands upon me today so that I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 116.7-19
Rejoice to be God’s prisoner in love. Devote this day and everything in it to Him. Put on Jesus and the bond of His love, and seek the grace and wisdom of the Lord for the day ahead.
Sing Psalm 116.7-19
(Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above)
Full well the Lord has dealt with me; my soul from death He delivered.
My weeping eyes, my stumbling feet, He has redeemed forever.
Forever I before His face shall walk with those who know His grace,
and dwell with them forever.
Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
and pay my vows most truly.
How sweet to Him when saints depart – save me, Your servant, Savior!
From sin You loosed my wand’ring heart; I praise Your Name forever!
On You I call, my vows to pay; here in Your Presence I would stay
Your praise to offer ever.
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.