Stand Complete With Firm Conviction
“[He is] always exerting himself in your behalf in his prayers, that you may finally stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.”—COLOSSIANS 4:12.
1, 2. (a) Outsiders noted what about the early Christians? (b) How does the book of Colossians reflect loving interest?
JESUS’ followers were deeply interested in fellow worshipers. Tertullian (writer of the second and third centuries C.E.) told of the kindness that they showed toward orphans, the poor, and the elderly. Those evidences of love in action so impressed unbelievers that some said of Christians, ‘See how they love one another.’
2 The book of Colossians reflects such loving interest by the apostle Paul and his companion Epaphras for the brothers and sisters in Colossae. Paul wrote to them: Epaphras is “always exerting himself in your behalf in his prayers, that you may finally stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.” During 2001, Jehovah’s Witnesses will have as their yeartext these words of Colossians 4:12: “Stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.”
3. For what two things did Epaphras pray?
3 You can see that Epaphras’ prayers for his loved ones had two aspects: (1) that they “finally stand complete” and (2) that they stand “with firm conviction in all the will of God.” This information was included in the Scriptures for our benefit. So ask yourself, ‘What do I personally need to do finally to stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God? And as I do so, what will be the effect?’ Let us see.
Strive to “Stand Complete”
4. The Colossians needed to be “complete” in what sense?
4 Epaphras keenly desired that his spiritual brothers and sisters in Colossae “finally stand complete.” The term Paul used, here rendered “complete,” can have the sense of perfect, full-grown, or mature. (Matthew 19:21; Hebrews 5:14; James 1:4, 25) You likely know that someone’s being a baptized Witness of Jehovah does not of itself mean that he is a full-grown Christian. Paul wrote the Ephesians, living to the west of Colossae, that shepherds and teachers try to help “all attain to the oneness in the faith and in the accurate knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ.” Elsewhere Paul urged Christians to become “full-grown in powers of understanding.”—Ephesians 4:8-13; 1 Corinthians 14:20.
5. How can we make completeness a key goal?
5 If some in Colossae were not yet spiritually full-grown, or mature, that needed to be their goal. Should not the same be true today? Whether we were baptized decades ago or recently, can we see that we clearly have progressed in our reasoning ability and viewpoints? Do we consider Bible principles before we make decisions? Are matters related to God and congregational interests gaining an ever greater role in our life, rather than being incidental? We cannot here illustrate all the ways in which we may reflect such growth toward completeness, but consider two examples.
6. What is an area in which one may be able to progress toward being perfect, as Jehovah is?
6 Example one: Suppose we grew up in a climate marked by prejudice or hostility toward people of another race, nationality, or region. We now know that God is not partial and that we should not be. (Acts 10:14, 15, 34, 35) In our congregation or circuit, there are individuals from that other background, so we are around them. Yet, to what extent do we inwardly retain some negative feelings or suspicions toward people of that background? Do we have ‘a chip on our shoulder,’ being quick to think something negative if one from that background errs or slights us in some minor way? Ask yourself, ‘Do I need to make more progress toward having God’s impartial view?’
7. Becoming complete as a Christian may involve gaining what view of others?
7 Example two: According to Philippians 2:3, we should do “nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior.” How are we progressing in this regard? Each person has weaknesses and strengths. If in the past we were quick to note others’ weak points, have we progressed, no longer expecting them to be almost “perfect”? (James 3:2) Now, more so than before, are we able to see—even look for—ways in which others are superior? ‘I must admit that this sister is superior to me in being patient.’ ‘That one reflects a more optimistic faith.’ ‘Frankly, he is a better teacher than I am.’ ‘She is superior in controlling her temper.’ Perhaps some Colossians needed to progress in this regard. Do we?
8, 9. (a) In what sense did Epaphras pray for the Colossians to “stand” complete? (b) ‘Standing complete’ implied what concerning the future?
8 Epaphras prayed that the Colossians “stand complete.” Clearly, Epaphras was praying to God that to the extent that the Colossians were complete, mature, full-grown Christians, they would “stand,” or remain such.
9 We cannot assume that each one who becomes a Christian, even a mature one, will persist as such. Jesus said that an angelic son of God “did not stand fast in the truth.” (John 8:44) And Paul reminded the Corinthians about some in the past who had served Jehovah for a time but then failed. He warned spirit-anointed brothers: “Let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) This adds force to the prayer that the Colossians “finally stand complete.” Once they became complete, full-grown, they needed to persist, not shrinking back, growing weary, or drifting away. (Hebrews 2:1; 3:12; 6:6; 10:39; 12:25) Thus they would be “complete” in the day for their inspection and final approval.—2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 2:12.
10, 11. (a) Epaphras set what pattern for us as to prayer? (b) In line with what Epaphras did, what resolve would you like to make?
10 We have already discussed the importance of praying for others by name, being specific in asking that Jehovah help them, console them, bless them, and give them holy spirit. Epaphras’ prayers for the Colossians were of that sort. And we can—in fact we should—find in those words a valuable suggestion about what we bring up to Jehovah in prayer about ourselves. Unquestionably, we ought to ask for Jehovah’s help to the end that we individually will “finally stand complete.” Do you?
11 Why not mention your situation in prayer? Talk to God about the degree to which you have advanced toward being “complete,” full-grown, mature. Implore him to help you recognize areas where you yet need to grow spiritually. (Psalm 17:3; 139:23, 24) Without question, you have some such areas. Then, rather than being discouraged over this, supplicate God clearly, pointedly for help to progress. Do this more than once. In fact, why not resolve that this coming week you will pray at some length that you will “finally stand complete.” And plan to do it more as you consider the yeartext. In your prayers, focus on tendencies you may have to shrink back, grow weary, or drift away from God’s service and how you can avoid doing that.—Ephesians 6:11, 13, 14, 18.
Pray for Firm Conviction
12. Why especially did the Colossians need “firm conviction”?
12 Epaphras also prayed for another thing that was vital if the Colossians were to be found finally standing acceptable to God. It is equally necessary for us. What was it? He prayed that they would stand “with firm conviction in all the will of God.” They were surrounded by heresy and corrosive philosophies, some of which had a deceptive veneer of true worship. For example, they were pressured to observe special days with fasting or feasting, as once was needed in Jewish worship. False teachers focused on angels, those powerful spirits used to deliver the Law to Moses. Imagine being subjected to pressures of that sort! There was a confusing array of conflicting ideas.—Galatians 3:19; Colossians 2:8, 16-18.
13. Recognizing what factor could help the Colossians, and how can such help us?
13 Paul countered by stressing the role of Jesus Christ. “As you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him, rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith, just as you were taught.” Yes, there was a need (by the Colossians and by us) for full conviction about the Christ’s role in God’s purpose and in our life. Paul explained: “It is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily. And so you are possessed of a fullness by means of him, who is the head of all government and authority.”—Colossians 2:6-10.
14. Why was hope a real thing for those in Colossae?
14 The Colossians were spirit-anointed Christians. They had a distinct hope, life in the heavens, and they had every reason to keep that hope bright. (Colossians 1:5) It was “the will of God” that they have firm conviction about the certainty of their hope. Should any of them have doubted that hope? Not at all! Should it be different today for all who have the God-given prospect of life in an earthly paradise? No, indeed! That valid hope is clearly part of “the will of God.” Now consider these questions: If you are striving to be one of the “great crowd” who will survive “the great tribulation,” how real is your hope? (Revelation 7:9, 14) Is it part of your “firm conviction in all the will of God”?
15. Paul outlined what series that included hope?
15 By “hope” we do not mean a vague wish or daydream. We can see this from the series of points Paul presented earlier to the Romans. In that series, each thing mentioned is linked to or leads to the next. Give attention to where Paul puts “hope” in his reasoning: “Let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit.”—Romans 5:3-5.
16. As you learned Bible truth, what hope did you gain?
16 When Jehovah’s Witnesses first shared the Bible’s message with you, a certain truth may have caught your attention, such as the condition of the dead or the resurrection. For many, the primary new realization was the Bible-based possibility of life in an earthly paradise. Recall when you first heard that teaching. What a marvelous hope—sickness and old age will be no more, you can live on to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and there will be peace with the animals! (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Isaiah 65:17-25; John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:3, 4) You acquired a wonderful hope!
17, 18. (a) How did the series that Paul presented to the Romans lead up to hope? (b) What sort of hope is meant at Romans 5:4, 5, and do you have such?
17 In time, you likely faced some opposition or persecution. (Matthew 10:34-39; 24:9) Even in recent times, Witnesses in various lands have had their homes plundered or have been forced to become refugees. Some have been physically assaulted, have had their Bible literature confiscated, or have been the object of lying reports in the media. Whatever form of persecution you may have faced, as Romans 5:3 says, you could exult in the tribulation, and it brought a fine result. Even as Paul wrote, the tribulation produced in you endurance. Then endurance led to an approved condition. You knew that you were doing what was right, doing the will of God, so you felt sure that you had his approval. In Paul’s words, you sensed being in “an approved condition.” Continuing, Paul wrote that “the approved condition, in turn, [produces] hope.” That may seem a bit strange. Why did Paul list “hope” so far along in the series? Did you not have hope long before, when you first heard the good news?
18 Clearly, Paul is not here referring to our initial feeling of hope of perfect life. What he refers to goes beyond that; it is deeper, more motivating. When we endure faithfully and thus realize that we have God’s approval, this has the profound effect of adding to and strengthening our initial hope. The hope we had now becomes much more real, more solid, more personal. This deepened hope shines more brightly. It pervades our being, our every fiber. “And the hope does not lead to disappointment; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit.”
19. How should your hope be part of your regular prayers?
19 It was Epaphras’ earnest prayer that his brothers and sisters in Colossae remain touched by and convinced of what lay before them, having “firm conviction in all the will of God.” Let each of us similarly approach God regularly about our hope. In your private prayers, include your hope regarding the new world. Express to Jehovah how much you long for it, with full conviction that it will come. Supplicate him for help to deepen and broaden your conviction. As Epaphras prayed that the Colossians have “firm conviction in all the will of God,” do the same. Do it often.
20. If a relatively few deflect from the Christian way, why need this be no cause for discouragement?
20 You should not be distracted or discouraged by the fact that not all stand complete and with firm conviction. Some may fail, be deflected, or simply give up. That happened among those closest to Jesus, his apostles. But when Judas turned traitor, did the other apostles slow down or quit? No, indeed! Peter applied Psalm 109:8 to show that another would take Judas’ place. A replacement was selected, and God’s loyal ones actively got on with their preaching assignment. (Acts 1:15-26) They were determined to stand complete with firm conviction.
21, 22. In what sense will your standing complete with firm conviction be noticed?
21 You can be absolutely sure that your standing complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God will not go unnoticed. It will be observed and appreciated. By whom?
22 Well, your brothers and sisters, who know and love you, will notice. Even if most do not put it in words, the effect will be similar to what we read at 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6: “We always thank God when we make mention concerning all of you in our prayers, for we bear incessantly in mind your faithful work and your loving labor and your endurance due to your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ before our God and Father. For . . . the good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction . . . ; and you became imitators of us and of the Lord.” The loyal Christians around you will feel similarly as they observe that you “stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.”—Colossians 1:23.
23. During this coming year, what should be your determination?
23 Just as certainly, your heavenly Father will observe and will be pleased. Be confident of that. Why? Because you are standing complete and with firm conviction “in all the will of God.” Paul wrote encouragingly to the Colossians about their walking “worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him.” (Colossians 1:10) Yes, it is possible for imperfect humans to please him fully. Your Colossian brothers and sisters did so. Christians around you right now are doing so. You too can do so! Hence, during the course of this coming year, let your daily prayers and your regular actions prove that you are determined “finally [to] stand complete and with firm conviction in all the will of God.”
Can You Recall?
• What is involved in your ‘standing complete’?
• What things about yourself should you include in prayer?
• As suggested at Romans 5:4, 5, what type of hope do you want to have?
• Our study has stimulated you to have what goal during the coming year?
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Epaphras prayed that his brothers stand complete, with firm conviction about Christ and their hope
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Your sure hope and firm conviction are shared by millions of others