Reading for Thursday, Aug. 16: Colossians 4
Paul closes this chapter with some final remarks about the Christian life: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful,” (v2). For many of us, I suspect prayer is a posture of thanksgiving. We readily acknowledge God as the source of blessing and most of the time we are quick to thank Him to these. But we are also to remain watchful, anticipating His glorious in-breaking into human history but also seeking to perceive His “lesser” movements — a long prayed-for possibility coming to fruition; a definitive “Yes” or “No” in response to our request for clarity; a gentle and inexplicable leaning toward something out of the norm that we can only attribute to the working of the Spirit. We pray in thanksgiving and we pray in expectation. This is our charge in prayer.
Paul gives us insight as we seek to interact with our friends and colleagues who remain outside the Christian community. “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” (v5-6). In light of our highly charged political culture today, especially in light of the national conversation re: homosexuality, the Bible, and marriage, these words are a timely reminder of the kind of speech that brings Jesus honor.
Paul closes with a flurry of names: Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister; Onesimus, the faithful chronicler of Paul’s missionary activity; Aristarchus, a fellow prisoner; Mark, Barnabas’s cousin; Jesus / Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas. The image we get is that of Paul surrounded by these dear friends and co-laborers, each drawing encouragement and strength from his brothers in arms.
Although the names are different for us, we quickly realize that we are equally blessed with the community God has surrounded us with. May we continue to strengthen and encourage one another until He comes again.