Colossians Devotional | Day 2: What Are You Waiting on to Obey?
Colossians: Christ Above and at the Center
The Glory of God Revealed in Jesus
Everyday, Normal Faithfulness, Day 2
“3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.” - (Colossians 1:3-8)
The Apostle Paul, author of the letter to the Colossians, always makes sure to honor others with thanks. He’s already mentioned his spiritual son and ministry partner, Timothy (verse 1) and now he mentions another brother, a guy named Epaphras (Eh-pa-fres). If you don’t pay much attention and just gloss over this strange Greek name, you’ll miss something important.
Paul didn’t plant the church in Colossae--it was likely Epaphras. He’d likely become a Christian under Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and carried the gospel back to his home town in Colossae. His church had been flourishing for several years and was now facing some real spiritual threats. This was the reason Epaphras traveled all the way to Rome: to meet with Paul (who was under house arrest) to ask him for advice and prayer.
Think about this guy. He’d become a Christian, didn’t go to seminary, went home, told the good news of the gospel to a bunch of friends and strangers who’d never heard anything like it before. He probably got a hold of some Jewish scriptures and started pointing out how Jesus was the very God the Jews had been worshipping. He’d been teaching, to the best of his ability, and leading his friends and family to put the trust of their lives at the foot of the cross...the cross of a distant, murdered, marginalized, peasant Galilean carpenter-turned-rabbi. People were getting saved in Colossae, repenting of sin, worshipping Jesus, and living differently than they were raised.
Do you think he had questions? Concerns? Do you think he ever felt under-equipped? Under-trained? How much complaining did he do about how little discipleship he’d received? How much did he let all of his misgivings about his ability and training get in the way of his ministry? Do you think he ever hesitated to tell someone the gospel or counsel them or confront sin?
I’m sure all of this was on his mind. I’m sure he had some severe moments of hesitancy and fear. Nevertheless, Paul tells the Colossians that he’s heard just how great a shape they were in from Epaphras. Paul says that Epaphras is a faithful minister of Christ--on your behalf--and told Paul how they loved Jesus and one another in the Holy Spirit. Paul isn’t pumped because the Colossians are super moral or super theological or super generous. He’s excited because they’ve adopted Epaphras’ faithful love and trust in Jesus...to him, Jesus was everything.
Epaphras is only mentioned once more in this letter and then “gives his greetings” in the book of Philemon. As far as we know, he didn’t write any great books, plant other churches, or preach huge revivals. Probably, he went home at some point and returned to loving and shepherding his friends--with the helpful teachings of Paul. Epaphras is a faithful, everyday, ordinary person--and all he needed was the saving grace of God, trust in the gospel, and love for those Jesus wants to save. He was a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of guy.
You can be, too.
Pray and ask the Lord to make you like Epaphras--not waiting for better or more training, but doing what you ought to do today, trusting the Lord to make your ministry service fruitful.
Don’t turn down opportunities to be used by God because it doesn’t seem like it’ll make much of a difference, or it won’t be a big success. Take the gospel to your friends and family. Tell the truth. Love them. Pray for them...and then leave it to the Lord as to what great things he wants to do with it.