Colossians 1:1-2, Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:1, 1 John 3:1-2
Maximus and Juba (Gladiator)
William Wallace and Hamish (Braveheart)
Hawkeye and Uncas (Last of the Mohicans)
Sherlock and Watson (Sherlock Holmes)
Who are the men you would take into battle with you? Who are the men that you “do life” with?
When we read the opening of Paul’s letter, it seems pretty standard. We are tempted to quickly move past it but, if we do, we miss a glimpse into how Paul is living his life. Paul begins his letter to the believers at Colossae by mentioning Timothy. One of the things we know about Timothy is that he was young, and others would at times use his youth against him (1 TImothy 4:12). So why would Paul, now a recognizable name and voice of authority in the early church, take the time to specifically mention such a young person in the faith?
Though Paul doesn’t tell us directly, we can see as we read through his other letters (1 & 2 Timothy, specifically) that Paul is empowering Timothy. This reveals a humility in Paul that is often lacking in our culture today.
We love to platform ourselves, to brag or build our identity around our accomplishments. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul orients people to Christ, not himself. He is not threatened by including others into the work God is doing—he is actually validating that God can and does work in others, quite possibly even those you would least expect.
Paul’s actions of including and validating Timothy reveal the heart of discipleship—a heart that is centered on Christ and not accolades, a heart that encourages and fosters growth. This is so important to the new believers in Colossae. Although they would draw a line between themselves and Paul, they could relate even more with Timothy, who was also half Gentile. Paul’s inclusion of those younger in the faith shows the reality of the transforming power of the gospel and makes it more difficult for me to alienate myself from it due to my inadequacies.
Encouraging one another in Christ may strip us of our excuses, but it also also helps us solidify our understanding of our identity in Christ.
Paul sees the importance of being united in Christ and encouraging those who battle alongside us for the sake of the gospel. The Christian life is not a race we are meant to run alone. While we may sometimes find ourselves out in front, may we, like Paul, not misplace our significance in our position. May we instead encourage those around us toward the gospel.
Let us not make the race about us, but instead run together, encouraging one another towards the true prize: knowing the fullness of Christ.
written by Britton Sharp