Summary: Have you given all to the Lord? Does the level of your gratitude indicate it?
Opening Statement: Many of Paul’s letters were what we call occasional letters, i.e., some specific problem or need prompted the writing of the letter. Unfortunately, we don’t always know what those problems or needs were; we only have Paul’s responses. So, we’re hearing only one half of a telephone conversation. You might hear something like this: "Really! No! She didn’t! What did he say?" And so forth. And you have to try from that to work out what’s being said on the other end of the line.
Transition: Evidently, some were representing Christ and the gospel in an unacceptable way. As a result, Paul worked energetically to establish his new baby Christians in Colossae in their faith (1:29).
Observation: Paul was fervent about this. His fervor had two sources of motivation. There are two great themes that lie behind his fervor. Paul is known for exploring two great themes in his writings: eschatology (Col. 3:1-5) and sanctification (3:9-10). Since Jesus, the Lord, was coming back soon (eschatology), we should press on to maturity in Christ (sanctification).
Title: Excellence in Gratitude and Lordship
Series: Excellence in Leadership and Service
Text: Colossians 2:6-7
Background: The maturity of the Colossian believers was being threatened by some kind of aberrant teaching. We’re not exactly sure what it was. Somehow, the Colossians were being drawn away from a high Christology. They were being leveraged to see Christ as something other than fully God and Lord. The beauty of the person of Christ was being clouded by men’s philosophies and theories.
Recitation: Paul seeks to correct this when he writes in what is the very heart of the letter to the Colossians (three translations will help us):
New English Version 2:6 Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 2:7 rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness
Living Bible 2:6-7 And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him. See that you go on growing in the Lord, and become strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with joy and thanksgiving for all he has done.
The Message 2:6-7 My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Exposition: The phrase I want to highlight is "received Christ Jesus as/the Lord." This phrase occurs nowhere else by Paul. The implication is that the Colossians did not just receive Christ as one among many Lords. They received and submitted to Christ as absolutely the Lord with a full awareness of His Messiahship, His Lordship and of his discipleship requirements. Paul wanted them to understand more and more about what it meant to have Jesus as supreme and about what the consequences of his Lordship would mean for them. To divorce themselves from Christ would be to open themselves up to many false voices that could potential lead them astray. Paul doesn’t want this to happen.
Definitions: To express this, Paul mixes his metaphors: He say’s you’re rooted and built up as well as firm and overflowing.
1. rooted [Perfect participle - tense of this word denotes completed action] like a tree or plant. Paul didn’t want them to be tumbleweed Christians. He wanted them to have a sense of spiritual identity. Don’t abandon Christ. [Present tense words denoting continual growth that should characterize every Christian’s walk with Christ]. We in our lives can truly be rooted. But do we ever stop and ask ourselves along the journey what we are rooted in? When the storms of life try to break our limbs what force keeps us from toppling over? That’s why Paul said rooted IN HIM.
2. built up in him like a building.
3. firm in your faith just as you were taught just like a student in class.
4. overflowing with thankfulness like a river overflowing its banks for what Christ had done for them.
These mixed metaphors are indicative of the Christian life. We are to be rooted, built up, and firm in the Christian faith. This will result in the final thought: You will be overflowing with gratitude while within this life of growing faith.
Question: What does it mean to be overflowing with gratitude? In trying to define that this week, I came to rest on the simple thought that overflowing with gratitude is the Spirit-enabled ability to see the good things, even though surrounded by bad things, bad situations, and undesirable people and circumstances, and then to give God praise despite all these bad things that may be going on around you..