Study 6 THE WORKER’S CONFLICT
THE KING’S WORKERS
by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you.”
The Apostle Paul had never seen the Christians at Laodicea and Colosse face to face, and yet in writing to them he spoke of his very deep concern for their spiritual welfare, and of his burden for their spiritual and eternal well-being (Colossians 2:1). How he bared his soul! Paul, of course, is a model for every minister, pastor, leader and worker in the Lord’s vineyard, and although we can never hope to equal his example yet we need to seek grace to follow his example. Each of us as servants of the Lord should at once ask: Have I any real concern for the souls in my care? – for the children in my Sunday school class? – for the members of my church? – for those to whom I minister privately or in public? – do I experience any conflict in relation to their spiritual well-being? – how deep is my concern for them? In Colossians 2:1-5 we are told seven things about this conflict which the apostle mentions:-
1. THE NATURE OF THE CONFLICT
What kind of a conflict was this? It was not primarily physical, but spiritual, mental and emotional. The heart of the apostle yearned over the Christians at Laodicea and Colosse, and this yearning issued in a volume of intercessory prayer for them. His conflict was a burden of spiritual desire that was poured out in prayer, for the blessing of the Lord to rest on those who had been converted through his ministry, or who had been under his spiritual care. Such conflict, of course, does affect the body. Doubtless the guards in Paul’s rented house (Acts 28:30) not only heard Paul pray, but they saw him pray, as he lifted his arms towards heaven and as his whole being seemed to tremble as he poured out his petitions. Do we know anything of such a conflict for others who are so dependent on us to pray them through? – look up Romans 9:1-3.
2. THE INTENSITY OF THE CONFLICT
We get a sense of this intensity in verse 1. His prayer was not a passing, light kind of prayer; it was a heavy burden. The Greek word gives the thought that it was an agony. The apostle often referred in his letters to the Greek games – compare 1 Corinthians 9:24-26; 1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 12:1. Think of the intense effort given out by the athlete or the wrestler! – and how intense must be the Christian’s conflict if he is to win through in prayer for blessing on those for whom he has a spiritual concern! There are always obstacles in the way when running a race – look up Ephesians 6:12, and compare Colossians 1:29.
3. THE SUBJECTS OF THE CONFLICT
Look again at verse 1 – it is important to notice that Paul is not speaking about concern for the unsaved, but for the saved, for those who were babes in Christ and who needed to grow – compare Colossians 1:28. Paul is speaking about a passion for the sanctification of the saints, a passion for the spiritual welfare of those who had been converted and needed to go on and on in the Christian life. Do we share this concern for babes in Christ?
4. THE NECESSITY OF THE CONFLICT
Paul tells us in verse 4 why it was such an urgent matter to wage prayer warfare for his fellow believers; they were in great danger of being lured into false doctrine. He had already seen this, and it placed a heavy burden upon him that the Enemy was undermining God’s work – compare Colossians 2:8. We know that these dangers exist today – Christians facing humanistic philosophies that discount the power and wisdom of God, and often these are put out in the name of so-called scholarship. In addition to this there is the dangerous propagation all around us of false cults. Paul felt that if someone did not engage in a conflict for the protection of these babes in Christ, they would be drawn away from their firm standing in Christ. Do we feel the same?
5. THE PURPOSE OF THE CONFLICT
Verses 2-3 tell us that Paul prayed that they might be blessed in five ways:-
- (1) That they might be ENCOURAGED. Discouragement is the first enemy that attacks the new convert.
- (2) That they might be UNITED IN LOVE. There is safety for us in loving and in being loved.
- (3) That they might be ENRICHED, “have the full riches” – look up Ephesians 1:3 and Colossians 2:9-10.
- (4) That they might be ESTABLISHED, have “complete understanding” – compare 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and Hebrews 6:11.
- (5) That they might be ENLIGHTENED. Paul prayed that they might understand “the mystery of God”, that they might discover their all in Christ.
6. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CONFLICT
This is indicated in verse 5. Though Paul was separated from these Christians geographically, he was actually with them in spirit. One translator has rendered it, “I am by your side, watching you like a proud father.” What joy it brought to Paul to see his prayers answered in their lives.
7. THE SECRET OF THE CONFLICT
How can we be faithful in exercising this ministry of loving concern for others? The answer is in 2 Corinthians 3:5.