Plant Budding Through a Crack in the Concete of Adversity

A daily devotion for November 11th

Laboring in Prayer

I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:1-3

The apostle's purpose for writing is to enrich their lives, encourage their hearts, and enable love to spread throughout the congregation. But do not overlook the process! In verse 29 of chapter 1, Paul says, To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me. And I want you to know how strenuously I am exerting myself for you… Notice how he calls attention to the effort and toil he was putting into this matter of bringing the Colossian Christians into vitality, excitement, and a sense of adventure.

You may ask, how could a man who is chained to a Roman guard day and night, in the city of Rome, a thousand miles from Colossae, so toil as to help the Colossians? Paul does not tell us here, but elsewhere we are given ample information as to his method. Earlier in this letter he talked about laboring continuously in prayer for them. That is one way he toils for them — through frequent prayer. Paul prayed (agonized is the word) for these Colossian Christians over and over again, even though he had not personally met most of them.

Paul's immediate goal is to encourage the hearts of the Colossians and to unite them in love. I confess I am rebuked by that, because too often I find myself ready to jump on someone and try to straighten him out on the spot. It is a great lesson to see how Paul seeks to lift their spirits first and to cause them to appreciate one another. It indicates that building a relationship with individuals is the true way to go about helping them. Have you ever tried to help someone, only to find your efforts fell on deaf ears? The apostle indicates the right way to help is to find something encouraging to say first. None of us like to be corrected by a negative approach. We first need a word of encouragement, as the apostle so beautifully demonstrates here.

Then, when Paul has lifted their spirits, they will be able to experience the excitement of understanding the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Occasionally I meet people who seem to be turned on constantly by Scripture. They discover a new, fresh verse every morning. But others find the Bible dull and boring. That is probably because they have not fully understood what it is saying. When you grasp what the word of God is saying on how to handle life, it becomes exciting. It puts zest into living. It gives you the sense that you are not alone, that you don't have to handle your problems by yourself, or that you don't have to lean heavily on human advice, though God often provides help in that way. The main thing is, are you looking to Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge?

Far too often, Lord, I have sought to correct without encouragement. Teach me to love others enough that I will agonize over them in both love and prayer.

Life Application

Who is in your life that needs your encouragement more than your critique? How will you encourage them this week?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

The Overflowing Life

Listen to Ray