Good morning friends.
I am a person who is trying to move from being private and closed to being transparent and open. It is not an easy thing to do. I have not trusted a lot of people in my life with my heart, with who I am as a person; my opinions, dreams, and aspirations. Some people have that gift of openness where they befriend everyone they meet. Others of us have to work hard at it because it seems awkward and foreign to us. To communicate properly takes a concentrated effort so as to make things as clear and as honest as possible. The Apostle Paul seemed to have an easier time of it:
I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. (Colossians 2:1)
Someone like me would probably want to hide the fact that I was putting in such a great effort for someone. I would not want them to feel awkward about what I was doing or make it feel I was looking for appreciation. In fact, most of the time, I prefer to do things for people in secret. However, now I think it is a false sense of humility. Paul saw things completely different. He hoped if people knew the effort he was putting in to benefit them they would be encouraged. I think Paul had it right. When someone does something for me, and I know he took a great deal of effort to do it, I cherish them and the thing they did because I recognize their love. In this case we see that Paul was more than a great evangelist. He expresses why he was struggling for them:
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. vs. 2-3
As in everything he did Paul worked hard and struggled for the maturity of the believers. Paul struggled to teach and to demonstrate the most important thing for believers; maturity in Christ. The benefit is having workers for Christ who are filled with wisdom and knowledge. By letting people know that he was working so hard for their benefit in this thing he was letting them know the importance of it. It only happens when people realize that Jesus is the example we have been given and we must learn from him. There is no other source. Social work, day cares, fellowship groups all have their place in the ministry of the Body but they cannot take the place of discipling people into maturity.
The problem with discipling for people such as myself is that you have to be willing to give part of yourself to others. If we are to follow the example of Jesus in all things then we must be willing to let people become as important to us as they are to Jesus. We have to be willing to share our lives with them and let them become part of us. We have to be willing to take on those of less maturity in order that they may learn from us and grow while we also grow in this process. When I look at the benefits I realize they outweigh any cost:
- encouraged in heart
- united in love
- the full riches of complete understanding
- having knowledge of Jesus
- wisdom and understanding
It is well worth all my effort and struggles to see this in those who remain young in Christ. The fact is that until we start investing in each other we will continue to face the immature actions of Christians who do not know any better. We need to make this investment so we can stop putting 95% of our effort in dealing with the problems of immaturity and get on with spreading the Kingdom of God.
So here I am, my name is Paul, and I want you to know, like so many other elders, I am struggling for you every day.