The Struggle Is Real
Read Colossians 2:1-3 (ESV)
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, 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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
What do you think Paul meant when he said he has a “great struggle” for them?
Are you a caretaker? Are you responsible for the well-being of other people? You might care for your children or for your elderly parents or a disabled spouse. Maybe it’s your job to care for others as a nurse or daycare provider. Regardless of the specifics of the role, if you take care of other people in any capacity, you know that the struggle is real. It isn’t easy. There are many challenges that you face every single day. But you keep on striving because you care about the people in your charge.
In today’s passage, Paul said that he was in the midst of a great struggle for the believers in Colossae and the surrounding region, specifically for Laodicea which was a neighboring city. He felt responsible for them as a pastor feels responsible for the people of his church. He cared deeply about their spiritual well-being and sought to shepherd his flock well even though he was absent from them. In fact, most of the brothers and sisters in this region had never even met Paul. And yet, Paul cared so much for them that he was willing to endure suffering on their behalf.
Paul’s deep love for the church of Christ is evident from this passage. If he would have just stopped preaching the Gospel, he probably could have saved his own skin. He probably wouldn’t have been in prison at the time he was writing this. And yet, Paul was committed to his mission. He loved those he was called to serve so much that he was willing to lay down his life for them just as Christ laid down His life for us. Even from prison, Paul was working on their behalf. In today’s passage, he lists out the specifics of what he was struggling with.
First, he wanted the believers' hearts to be encouraged. Some translations say “strengthened.” Many of the Christians in this area were getting discouraged and were in danger of dropping out of the fight. Remember, they were facing false teachers who were causing confusion and division. They were also living in a culture that was hostile to the Gospel. Paul worked tirelessly to encourage and strengthen his brothers and sisters to keep fighting the good fight.
Second, Paul desired that the church be united in love. In John 17:21, when Jesus prayed for His church, He prayed for unity among them: “that they may all be one.” We should be united to all other believers because we share a common bond—the love of Christ. He is the One who holds us together and makes us family.
Third, Paul cared about their spiritual growth. He wanted them to reach a level of maturity that led to “full assurance.” He didn’t want them to doubt or be confused about God’s mystery. God’s mystery is Jesus Christ. The false teachers were claiming a “secret spiritual knowledge.” But Paul rejected that as heresy. He said that Jesus is the only spiritual mystery there is.
Friends, God revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ. He put on flesh and dwelt among us. Through His death and resurrection, God’s plan to redeem us became evident. In Christ, we have the hope of future glory. So we struggle. Despite hardships, we keep going. We strive to share the Gospel and dedicate ourselves to teaching the truths of Scripture because we care about people.
Lord, ministering to others can be a real struggle. But I am dedicated to preaching Your Word because I care about the people that You have put in my path. May I be an encouragement to others, may I promote unity rooted in love among the church, and may I be a positive influence in the spiritual development of those around me. Amen.