Up, In, Out
Daily Reading: This morning, we’re reading Colossians 4. Start there, then read this devotion that will tie in with what you’ve read. We’re following the New Testament portion of the 5 Day Bible Reading Plan. We wrap up Colossians today and jump into Luke tomorrow!
Sometimes living life as a Christian can feel overwhelming. It can feel like there are so many things to know and do. Our faith does have the depth and breadth needed to redeem every area of our life. But be encouraged, our faith is all centered around Jesus Christ, his message of redemption, and how life flows from that redemption we find in Jesus.
Yesterday, when we looked at Colossians 3, Paul said to “set our minds on the things that are above.” He gives some simple instructions in verses 2-6 of today’s chapter that I found really helpful and clarifying.We’re going to summarize today’s passage by thinking about 3 ways we “look” daily as believers: We look up, we look in, and we look out.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
– Colossians 4:2–6
As we set our minds on the things above, we start by looking at the one who is above. So we “continue steadfastly in prayer.” Remember how Jesus taught us to start our prayers? “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Our life as a Christian starts every morning by looking up. We remember who is on the throne. We remember the one who rules over the things that worry us and who has the authority to command our lives. We also look up to one who is beautiful, powerful, and good and is worthy of our worship. Jesus has made a way for us to look up and be glad instead of looking up and being terrified. This is our great gift as Christians, to know God. This is our source of life.
Next, Paul tells us to pray while “being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” We look in. We look to our own hearts. We ask how our thoughts and feelings line up with Jesus’ way. We check our motives and desires. I fear in my circles, this one often gets skipped. I fear in my own life this one often gets skipped. We live in a doing world. There is so little time for introspection. Yet the Bible speaks so often of the heart and of actions and motives of the heart. Look in. Why am I thinking the way I’m thinking? Why am I NOT thankful? What is going on in my heart that is leading me towards sin, disobedience, or lethargic worship. As we look in, we may be a bit troubled by what we find. Bounce back to looking up. Jesus stands ready to save the most twisted hearts.
In Colossians 4, Paul calls us to “look out” in two ways. First, we look out to those around us in the body of Christ. “Pray also for us,” says Paul. Inside the body of Christ we are a family struggling to live in a hostile world. We’re trying to be lights in a dark place. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ. There are a few people in my life who routinely tell me, “I pray for you everyday.” I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Be that person in sometimes life. Especially be that person in your pastors’ lives.
Paul isn’t just concerned about life within the body of Christ though. He wants to see the kingdom expanded. So he tells the believers at Colossae, “look further out.” Verses 5 & 6, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Are we thinking about those we know who don’t know God? Are we considering how we can give them a “salty” taste of the kingdom through our lives?
I love the very practical order we’re given here. I don’t think it was an accident. First, we look up and remember the holiness and grace of God. Second, we look in and daily seek to become more and more conformed to Jesus from the heart. Finally, we look out to others who are making the gospel known, and we look to those who are lost that God has placed in our own lives.
We’ll start on Luke 1 tomorrow!