Colossians Devotional | The Aim of Your Sufferings
Colossians: Christ Above and Before All
The Glory of God Revealed in Jesus
The Aim of Your Sufferings
“1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” - (Colossians 2:1-3)
Do you know anyone who makes big displays of their suffering or trials, trying to get a lot of attention? The sort of person who likes to play the “martyr,” hoping that victimhood will get everyone to pity them for every little bad or tough thing in their life?
That’s not the Apostle Paul, though his trials and sufferings are put on display throughout the book of Acts and in his letters. He wants “you to know how great a struggle (he has) for you...and for all who have not seen me face to face.” Why does he want you to know that he cries, he prays, he exhausts himself, and he’s been beaten and imprisoned for the sake of spreading the gospel? So that your “hearts may be encouraged.” So we’ll be “knit together in love.” So we’ll “reach all the riches of full assurance,” understanding the mystery of God in Christ.
He doesn’t want his sufferings to draw attention to himself--he wants his sufferings to draw attention to God. He wants to draw attention to how worthy Jesus is. So worthy that Paul was willing to forego marriage, forego raising his own family, leave behind great wealth and comfort, and lose popularity and the approval of most of the world around him. You can tell just how valuable something is to you by looking at what you’re willing to give up--by how much you’re willing to hurt for it.
Paul is aiming his suffering toward this goal: seeing people believe in Jesus; having their sin forgiven; having their shame washed away; being born again into a new life; knowing, enjoying, and following the Lord. He was willing to go through just about anything so that we’d meet Jesus.
In his letter to the church in Philippi, he says (4:9): “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Paul wants us to believe what he believes and love who he loves, not because he thinks a lot of himself, but because he knows the gospel is true and that the love of God is greater and above all other things. He’ll do anything he can--anything God will let him do--to get us there.
If you’re a Christian, who did God use to bring you to Jesus? What did they do? What did it cost them? How much time and energy did they have to spend? Take time to pray in thankfulness for those people today. If possible, reach out to them and thank them for aiming the toil and difficulty of their work at your salvation.
What are you willing to suffer for? What are the things in your life that you’re spending the most time, energy, thinking, heart-real-estate, and money on? That’s the most important stuff in your life. How does your value of the Lord measure up in cost?
Who is the Lord calling you to pour your life out for? God’s given you the time, space, tools, and opportunity to reach someone around you. Who needs your sufferings to paint the picture of the gospel to them, so they might get a clue about Jesus’ suffering for their salvation?