I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4:12
Paul and Silas were jailed in Philippi where they entertained the other prisoners with their prayers and hymn-singing (Acts 16:25). And while under house arrest for two years in Rome, Paul preached and taught about the Kingdom to all who would listen (Acts 28:30-31). Why was he able to find joy and contentment in those dire circumstances?
Perhaps because he practiced what he exhorted the Christians in Rome to do: present oneself to God as a living sacrifice in order to discover that “perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). Paul cared less about what God’s will was than he did about being faithful in it. So, when God’s will was incarceration, he was content with being imprisoned. When the Philippian church sent gifts for his welfare while under arrest in Rome, he rejoiced. But not because he was desperate for the gifts; he was perfectly content. He rejoiced because he knew God would bless the gift-givers (Philippians 4:17).
True contentment is knowing what God’s will is and living by faith in it.
Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. Jim Elliot
The Secret of Contentment
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
The trash man’s house sits atop a steep street in a poor Bogota neighborhood. Not one thing about it looks special. Yet the unassuming abode in Colombia’s capital is home to a free library of 25,000 books—discarded literature that Jose Alberto Gutierrez collected to share with poor children in his community.
Local kids crowd into the house during weekend “library hours.” Prowling through every room, each packed with books, the children recognize the humble home as more than Señor Jose’s house—it’s a priceless treasury.
The same is true for every follower of Christ. We’re made of humble clay—marred by cracks and easily broken. But we’re entrusted by God as a home for His empowering Spirit, who enables us to carry the good news of Christ into a hurting, broken world. It’s a big job for ordinary, fragile people.
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7), the apostle Paul told his congregation in the ancient city of Corinth. They were a cross section of people from across this region, so many might have been tempted to “go around preaching about [them]selves,” Paul said (v. 5 nlt).
Instead, Paul said, tell others about the priceless One living inside of us. It’s Him and His all-surpassing power that turns our ordinary lives into a priceless treasury.
Reflect & Pray
What does it mean to you that you have a treasure, the Holy Spirit, inside you? How is it comforting to know that He enables us to share the good news?
Jesus, fill up my ordinary life with the power of Your Spirit.
Every word of Scripture is profitable for us, and that includes today’s passage—the final greetings and instructions at the close of Colossians. Although reading a list of names may not seem edifying at first, doing so provides a lesson on living with a committed Christian community. The people Paul mentions are all examples of faithful servants of God.
For instance, Tychicus (vv. 7-8) brought Paul’s letter from Rome to Colossae since the apostle was in prison. The distance is about 900 miles as the crow flies, but it was much farther for Tychicus, who had to sail around Italy and across the Mediterranean Sea before traveling through Asia Minor on foot. Yet he faithfully endured the hardship in order to bring Paul’s letter to the Colossians—and to us, since the epistle is now part of the New Testament.
Onesimus (v. 9) exemplifies a life transformed by Christ—this runaway slave was a valuable servant not only to his former master but also to Paul (Philem. 1:10-17). Then Epaphras (Col. 4:12-13) was a faithful intercessor for the church in Colossae, and Luke was a committed companion to Paul during the apostle’s travels and imprisonment. And Nympha is acknowledged for hospitality in opening her home as a meeting place for the church.
In the New Testament, we’re instructed to be faithful stewards, live transformed lives, pray for one another, serve humbly, and practice hospitality so Jesus’ love is apparent to those who don’t know Him. As the people in today’s passage show, your actions can reflect Christ even more than words do.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
It is bound to be significant that in the only place where the Scriptures even mention philosophy, we are warned to beware of it! Likewise, the only philosophers mentioned were evolutionary humanists who called the apostle Paul a “babbler . . . because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18).
The word “philosophy” literally means “love of wisdom,” and every philosophy—ancient or modern—is essentially a humanistic devotion to man’s wisdom for its own sake.
But such wisdom is false wisdom. It derives in type from “the tree of knowledge,” through the “vain deceit” of Satan, who tries to persuade us that partaking of it would “make one wise” and that “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 2:17; 3:5-6). It has “indeed a shew of wisdom” (Colossians 2:23), but “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19), and eventually all “the wisdom of this world, . . . [and] of the princes of this world, . . . [will] come to nought” (1 Corinthians 2:6).
Genuine wisdom, on the other hand, is as our text reminds us “after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:8-10). For in Him “are hid [literally ‘stored up’] all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
The Lord Jesus Christ is “the truth” (John 14:6), and is both “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). This true wisdom is freely available to all who desire it. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Therefore, we need never waste our God-given time on human philosophy. HMM
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Recall what happened when Jesus said to the disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Peter jumped up right away, grabbed his hat and would have been on his way, but Jesus stopped him, and said, “Not yet, Peter! Don’t go like that. Tarry until you are endued with power from on high, and then go!”
I believe that our Lord wants us to learn more of Him in worship before we become busy for Him. He wants us to have a gift of the Spirit, an inner experience of the heart, as our first service, and out of that will grow the profound and deep and divine activities which are necessary. ITB139
Quiet our hearts, that our evangelistic efforts might spring from a heart of worship. Amen
Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.—Deuteronomy 13:4.
God visits a soul when He brings before it a new vision of truth or duty, a new range of opportunities, a new endowment of force as well as insight, at some time to which all that precedes has led up, and from which all that follows depends in its solemn history. No Divine visitation leaves us where it found us; it always leaves us better or worse; if not better, then certainly worse.
Henry Parry Liddon.
The issues are with God, and His servants know not the word disappointment, for they are incapable of reading His designs. Only this they know, that the slightest hesitation in obeying what they believe to be a divine impulse, produces a suffering more intense than any consequences which may accrue to them from the world.
Never shrink from deep devotion, because you fear its trials or its sacrifices. Paul, in martyrdom, was unspeakably happier than God’s half-hearted servants.
William R. Huntington.
“Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Exod. 4:12
Many a true servant of the Lord is slow of speech, and when called upon to plead for his Lord, he is in great confusion lest he should spoil a good cause by his bad advocacy. In such a case it is well to remember that the Lord made the tongue which is so slow, and we must take care that we do not blame our Maker. It may be that a slow tongue is not so great an evil as a fast one, and fewness of words may be more of a blessing than floods of verbiage. It is also quite certain that real saving power does not lie in human rhetoric, with its tropes, and pretty phrases, and grand displays. Lack of fluency is not so great a lack as it looks.
If God be with our mouth, and with our mind, we shall have something better than the sounding brass of eloquence, or the tinkling cymbal of persuasion. God’s teaching is wisdom; His presence is power. Pharaoh had more reason to be afraid of stammering Moses than of the most fluent talker in Egypt; for what he said had power in it; he spoke plagues and deaths. If the Lord be with us in our natural weakness we shall be girt with supernatural power. Therefore, let us speak for Jesus boldly, as we ought to speak.