Clear Loving Communication
Letters are a special form of communication. As they are a potentially permanent record, most people take care that their letters accurately reflect what they want to say and the emotions they want to express without ambiguity; knowing it may be read many times, shared, copied and archived. This letter by Paul to Christians in Colosse was just like that.
It is a warm and highly relational letter. Although Paul is writing by Divine authority, as an apostle of Jesus Christ, he knows that he is equally a child of God as are the believers in Colosse. Paul, Timothy his executive assistant, and the Colossian believers all share one heavenly Father - and so they are all brothers; and also privileged to be brothers with Christ Himself (Hebrews 2:11). So this is a family letter, focussed on what God had done for them all through Jesus Christ.
The Colossians were not perfect but they are honoured as 'holy', because they have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13). They are called 'faithful' because they kept the faith, and continued to trust in Jesus. And Paul was authorised to assure them that God's grace and peace continued to flow to them. So Paul was grateful to God, because He had already done so much for them, and they had responded in faith. They were once far away from God but had been brought into His family, by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). However, like all believers, they were in danger of being pulled off course. Therefore Paul also prayed for them. Such an opening greeting was sure to warm their hearts, not only because it was positive and affirming, but because it was true.
What a model of honouring other believers, however much they may need instruction and correction! Their place in God's family is not marked by their office, wisdom or goodness, but by God's grace and Christ's blood. They are not only our brothers and sisters, but Christ's also; and He keeps pouring grace and peace into their lives. So we ought to practise giving thanks for them, and praying for them, because they have this special place in God's family. Paul's approach shows the kind of relationship through which instruction, and even correction, can be given and accepted. These principles ought to be normal for Christian leaders in the church, home, community or workplace. We cannot speak to men and women about God unless we honour them by praying for them. We cannot minister to them unless we love them, and we cannot reach a higher place in our relationship with them than being their brother or sister in Christ. That sort of humble ministry carries the authority of Christ, and achieves His purposes.
© Dr Paul Adams