A big question I often have is perspective and motivation. Should I do the right thing only when I feel like it, or should I work on my beliefs and understanding and not worry about the outside as much? Obviously the goal is to be an authentic, transparent disciple of Christ whose motivation is right and whose actions are God-honoring. If I have to err, though, which side should I err on?
Several guys at our church started an online men’s Bible study last week, (the link to the group is in this post if you’re (a) male and (b) interested) and today’s reading in our group really got me thinking about this topic. We are reading the book of Colossians every day for the month of March. I am posting my entry from today because I think that the approach that God wants is for us to focus on the truths of Scripture and the hope of eternity with Him, allowing that hope to change us from the inside out.
Today I did my reading after men’s group. I got chapter 1 read, then had a meeting, and then read chapters 2-4.
What really struck me today is the theme of hope in chapter 1. I looked up the term “hope” in my handy dandy Bible software, and Paul uses the term three times in Colossians; all three of them come in chapter 1. (that’s why I checked; I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss any!) This seems to be an important concept that he wanted the Colossians to be reminded of right off the bat in this letter. The first use in verse 5 comes in the context of Colossians 1:3-5:
3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;
5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel
The second is in 1:23 and comes in the context of Colossians 1:21-23:
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,
22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—
23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.
The final use in Colossians 1:27:
to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
It really struck me how important hope is in chapter 1.
- In the first instance, the faith of the Christians and the love they had for the saints came as a result of the hope they have laid up in heaven. Our godly actions came from the source of our hope!
- In the second usage, if we go backward from verse 23 it is “the hope of the gospel” that causes us to be firmly established in the faith, which then as we continue in it will present us to God holy and blameless and beyond reproach.
- Finally, in the third usage we see where the hope is anchored: Christ in us. Christ within us, and His righteousness living inside of us, is the source of the “hope of glory” that Paul talks about in chapter 1.
So what is hope? Well I looked it up in my “Student Bible Dictionary” (and confirmed it in my Greek lexicon for you Bible nerds), and it defines hope as “Belief that God will accomplish what He has promised.” The term means to look forward to something with confidence, expecting fulfillment. The gospel, or “good news” that is the anchor of our hope, is that all who trust in Christ alone for eternal life will spend forever with God, pardoned for their sin and in perfect fellowship with Him!
When I put those two together it really hit me how important my outlook and focus are. Christ in me is the reason for my confidence that God will rescue me from hell and welcome me into His presence forever. By remembering that hope, having confidence in God’s fulfillment of His promise and not being moved from it, by focusing on it and keeping it in the front of my mind I know that when I meet God on the day of my death I will be presented to Him “holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (v. 22). The meeting day will be a good one, filled with celebration at His gift given to me and His faithfulness to His promise. Finally I know that the path of hope expresses itself in the love I have for God’s people and the trust I have in Christ in my daily life.
So today’s theme and focus for me is hope. Am I confidently expecting God to fulfill His promise, focused on the eternal life that awaits and eagerly anticipating it? That is then the source of my actions, my trust in Christ for my daily needs and love for His people. Truth drives action today. I will focus today on living “from the inside out.”
May your day be a day of hope today as well!