When I meet people, and when God brings our lives together such that we spend alot of time together, it is easy for me to work hard on their behalf. It is easy for me to think about praying for them, encouraging them to trust God and live for him, or even serving them through needs that I learn about in their life.
But, what about people that I don’t know that well? What about people that I’ve never met but only heard about through other friends?
Do I work hard for them? Paul did:
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you [the Colossians] and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,Â that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3 ESV)
Certainly, part of this “hard work” or “concern” (translated “struggle” above) included prayer. Paul tells us that he prayed for the Colossians even though he had never met them. (Colossians 1:3-8 and Colossians 1:9-12)
But, this particular passage (Colossians 2:1-3) is in the middle of a section in which Paul is talking about his own service for God on behalf of the gospel and the church. In fact, in the sentence just before this passage, Paul wrote, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29 ESV)
I’m not there yet. I’m still learning to work hard for, toil for, be concerned about those who are in my life day in and day out. But, I want a heart that cares deeply even for those I have never met. I want to understand how the way I live my life affects even those people who I have never met.
How about you? Have you learned to care deeply for and to work hard for those whom you have never met?