Tuesday, August 15th, 2023
Scripture: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,” – Colossians 1:3-5
Teaching: Though the church in Colossae had great faith in Jesus and love for all the brothers and sisters in Christ, as we see Paul thank God and commend them for in verses 3-4, Paul highlights the clear reason why and how they take this posture in verse 5. It is through the hearing of the gospel and the grasping of the hope given. Paul, here, is clear to call their attention to the true hope of Christianity, which awaits us in heaven and which the Gospel proclaims: that Jesus has stood in our place, receiving the death and punishment that we rightfully deserve, was resurrected, and ascended to the right hand of the Father and has been given all authority in heaven and earth. By faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our sins are paid for, his righteousness is credited to us, and we, too, will be given eternal, resurrected bodies as Christ has before us. Paul calls to mind this at the outset of his letter to the Colossians, who are under false teaching, doubting who Jesus really is and enforcing of certain behaviors they must adhere to for salvation, that their hope, the “word of truth”, rests in faith alone and regardless of the difficulties of this life, the life that is coming is the culmination of this present hope. It is a call not to ignore present circumstances but relegate their importance far below what hope is laid up for us eternally in heaven. Paul refers to this same future hope as the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” in his letter to the Philippians. In his letter to the Philippians, he expands on this call, saying those who are mature in their faith to think this way, for their citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:9-21).
Takeaway: Faithful life will surely have its blessings by the Lord in this life, but that is not the penultimate reason for following Christ in faith. When blessings are hard to see in this life, we are called to remember that the true hope of the Gospel is "laid up for us in heaven." Spiritual maturity grows when we stop saying, “God, I’ll do that if you do this” and start saying, “Not my will, but yours be done, Father.” God provides our needs, but our greatest need is salvation. What motivates this kind of thinking is a firm grasp upon the hope set before us in heaven, not in earthly blessings.