Bearing Fruit and Growing

– Pastor Brandon’s Article from the June 2019 Newsletter

Throughout the New Testament, we read about people whom we might consider giants of the faith. Names such as Peter, John, and Paul stand out among the apostles as we read page after page recounting their experiences with Jesus and study their writings inspired by the Holy Spirit for his church. In both their successes and failures we see the grace of God at work, and we are inspired, comforted, and challenged by their stories.

Of course, these aren’t the only people who had a significant impact for the kingdom of God. The writings of the New Testament are full of examples of faithful men and women who loved the Lord and served his people. While we learn a great deal about a few of these saints, many of them receive only a few passing mentions. Yet, as we consider even these small details, we get a greater glimpse of the family of faith and the grace of God at work in the lives of the “ordinary” people who made up those early groups of believers.

One such believer is a man named Epaphras. As Paul begins his letter to the church in the town of Colossi, he describes how thankful he is for their faith and their love for one another. He rejoices over their response to the good news, saying:

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. (Colossians 1:6-8)

Then, as Paul closes his letter to the Colossians, he makes a few more comments regarding Epaphras:

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12-13)

As you consider these two passages, pay careful attention to what Paul says about Epaphras. He was one of them, a member of their community. He shared and modeled God’s grace in all its truth, setting an example for the church. He worked alongside the apostle Paul and was dearly loved by him as he faithfully served Christ for the sake of the Colossians. We also see Epaphras celebrating the success of their community, enthusiastically sharing about the Spirit’s work in them and their love for God’s people.

He continually wrestled in prayer, doing battle in the spiritual realm on behalf of his brothers and sisters in Christ. His heart’s desire was that they would stand firm and grow to maturity. He wanted them to experience the full measure of all that God wanted for them. Even though his labor was exhausting or painful at times, he continued working hard for them and the surrounding congregations.

What an awesome example of service to Christ! As we reflect on these few short verses, we are challenged in our own service to Christ. Ask yourself:

· How do I value the fellowship of believers in which God has placed me?

· Do I join my fellow workers in prayer and labor on behalf of others?

· Is my passion and aim that God’s holy people will stand firm and grow up into all that God desires for them?

· How will God call me to serve his people?

—Pastor Brandon