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Living the letters: Colossians

  • Written and compiled by John Blasé The Navigators
  • 2007 21 Sep
Living the letters: Colossians
Letter 1: Stalwart

“May everything good from God our Father be yours!”

(Colossians 1:2)

Before You Begin

“May everything good from God our Father be yours!”


(Colossians 1:2)


Take just a few moments to still your heart and mind. Remember, God desires to speak to you in these moments.


God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love.

Psalm 103:8



Colossians 1:1-8


I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God’s master plan. Together with my friend Timothy, I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!

Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.


The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.



“I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1)


• Paul refers to the believers in Colosse as “stalwart,” which means “strongly and stoutly built; sturdy and robust.”1 When you think about a sturdy or robust believer, who comes to mind? What is it about him or her that says “stalwart”?


• Think about the group of believers you run with. If Paul greeted your group, would he use words like “strongly and stoutly built; sturdy and robust”? If so, why? If not, what

words might he use?

Consider Paul’s statement, “The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.” Think about your own line of

faith. Is it taut, slack, threadbare, or what? How do you think hope plays into the condition of your faith?



From Scott’s Last Expedition by Robert Falcon Scott2


Monday, January 8

(In November 1910, the vessel Terra Nova left New Zealand carrying a team of explorers led by Robert Falcon Scott. Scott’s goal was to be the first man to reach the South Pole. He kept a detailed journal until March 29, 1912, when the last of the team was lost in a blizzard.) It is quite impossible to speak too highly of my companions. Each fulfills his office to the party; Wilson, first as doctor, ever on the lookout to alleviate the small pains and troubles incidental to the work; now as cook, quick, careful and dexterous, ever thinking of some fresh expedient to help the camp life; tough as steel on the traces, never wavering from start to finish.


Evans, a giant worker with a really remarkable headpiece. It is only now I realize how much has been due to him. Our ski shoes and crampons have been absolutely indispensable, and if the original ideas were not his, the details of manufacture and design

and the good workmanship are his alone. . . .


Little Bowers remains a marvel — he is thoroughly enjoying himself. I leave all the provision arrangement in his hands, and at all times he knows exactly how we stand, or how each returning party should fare. . . . Nothing comes amiss to him, and no work

is too hard. It is a difficulty to get him into the tent; he seems quite oblivious of the cold, and he lies coiled in his bag writing and working out sights long after the others are asleep.


Of these three it is a matter for thought and congratulation that each is specially suited for his own work, but would not be capable of doing that of the others as well as it is done. Each is invaluable.



“I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1)


• In Colossians 1:1, Paul says that he’s on a “special assignment.” Scott was on an expedition to the South Pole. Can you see any benefit to viewing the life of faith in these kinds of terms? Why or why not?


• A little more than two months after he wrote this journal entry, Scott and a few remaining men froze to death in a brutal blizzard. Yet his writing seems to describe vigor, vitality, and oblivion to the cold. How do you account for this?


• Have you ever experienced anything like this — an extreme sturdiness in the face of insurmountable odds? This doesn’t have to be a polar expedition. It might be as mundane as surviving the holidays with your family.



From The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard3


Never Again

(Apsley Cherry-Garrard was one of Scott’s expedition members. He

formed a search party and eventually found the bodies of Scott and his

companions, along with Scott’s journal entries.)


There are many reasons which send men to the poles, and the Intellectual Force uses them all. But the desire for knowledge for its own sake is the one which really counts and there is no field for the collection of knowledge which at the present time can be   compared to the Antarctic.


Exploration is the physical expression of the Intellectual Passion.


And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore. If you are a brave man you will do nothing: if you are fearful you may do much, for none but cowards have need to prove their bravery. Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, ‘What is the use?’ For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin’s egg.




“I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1)


• Do you think believers today could be described as “shopkeepers”?


• When you think of the word stalwart and the idea of “strongly and stoutly built; sturdy and robust,” what words or phrases in this passage mean something to you?


• Go back through the passage and substitute the word “God” for the words “knowledge” and “a penguin’s egg.” With these substitutions, what are your reactions to the passage?


Keep in mind the word stalwart and its definition.



From Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez4


The Intent of Monks

(A carraugh is a long, narrow, and open but seaworthy boat consisting of a wicker like basket frame covered with oak-tanned ox hide and caulked with tallow.)


In the following pages, beginning in a time before the sagas, the notion of a road to Cathay, a Northwest Passage, emerges. The quest for such a corridor, a path to wealth that had to be followed through a perilous landscape, gathers the dreams of several ages. Rooted in this search is one of the oldest of all human yearnings — finding the material fortune that lies beyond human struggle, and the peace that lies on the other side of hope. . . .

The people who first came into the Arctic had no photograph of the far shore before they left. They sailed in crude ships with cruder tools of navigation, and with maps that had no foundation or geographic authority. They shipwrecked so often that it is difficult to find records of their deaths, because shipwreck and death were unremarkable at the time. They received, for the most part, no support — popular or financial. . . . Their courage and determination in some instances were so extreme as to seem eerie and peculiar rather than heroic. Visions of achievement drove them on. In the worst moments they were held together by regard for each other, by invincible bearing, o r by stern naval discipline. Whether one finds such resourceful courage among a group of young monks on a spiritual voyage in a carraugh, or among worldly sailors with John Davis in the sixteenth century, or in William Parry’s snug winter quarters on Melville Island in

1819–20, it is a sterling human quality.




“I took all this in and thought it through, inside and out.” (Ecclesiastes 9:1)


• Compare Paul’s description of the Colossian believers as having a “future in heaven, kept taut by hope” with Lopez’s description of these early explorers as “finding . . . the peace that lies on the other side of hope.”


• Look again at Lopez’s descriptions of the explorers and the conditions they faced. Do you think any of these phrases could be used to describe the early believers in Colosse?


• What about believers today? Do you think the faith of some could be described as less “sturdy and robust” because it comes without great difficulty? Explain.

Copied from Living the Letters: Colossians, Written and compiled by John Blasé,. Copyright © 2007. Used by permission of NavPress, All rights reserved.