For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea…
We have here -
I. A NOBLE ANXIETY. In the words he here uses Paul pictures his eagerness as the eagerness of the racer and the wrestler in the then familiar national games. So far there is nothing very rare, for the spectacle of anxious men struggling with keenest eagerness to gain some purpose of their own is common. Life is an arena crowded with such. But the elements of nobleness in Paul as here discovered are:
1. His anxiety for others. He says to the men of Colossal - My "conflict is for you." It is no self-centred life that Paul lives when he spends himself lavishly for these early Churches.
2. His anxiety for the absent. There is a counterfeit coin in current speech: "Out of sight, out of mind." It is a proverb coined in the mint of a very shallow and selfish life. It is only true of the worst men. Such a spirit
(1) limits power;
(2) narrows character.
Whilst real care for the absent:
(1) Increases the power of the mind. It gets strong enough to wing its pinions over oceans and even to pierce other worlds.
(2) Cultivates a spiritual habit. It delivers man from being the creature of sense.
3. His anxiety for those with whom he had no direct connection. He is caring for the grouper Churches on the Lycus that he had not planted or even visited. It was pure, disinterested love. Such is Paul's noble anxiety. Wherein does the modern gospel of altruism excel this gospel Paul believed and practised? And where has altruism the motives with which Christianity pulsates or the examples that Christianity can cite?
II. A BLESSED EXPERIENCE. Analyzing these verses, we find signs:
1. Of personal comfort. The word "comfort" here, as in the word "Comforter," points to more than solace; it tells of encouragement, strengthening. What better experience could he desire for the members of this young Church than that their hearts should be comforted? But to that is added the blessing:
2. Of social security. Few expressions can better describe a completer unity than this, "knit together." It means an interweaving of sympathies, an interlinking of destinies. And this interweaving and interlinking is attained by the highest and surest method, "in love."
3. Of firm conviction. "Full assurance." There is much more here than mere opinion; there is conviction. A conviction, too, of man's noblest faculty, the understanding, which is more than the reason alone. And this complete conviction is, as to the truth, of the supremest importance, namely, the acknowledgment of the open secret about God.
III. AN OPEN SECRET. As we have seen, Paul did not mean by "mystery" an unknowable, mystical something, but rather a truth once hidden but no longer concealed, a truth fully, freely revealed. Christianity is the open secret. The self revelation of Christ is the revelation of man, of duty, of God, of Heaven. In him were stored away all the riches of truth and love for which men cried. He is the exhaustless Storehouse of God's supplies for man's higher nature. He is the still small voice, and God is in the voice, and only the listening will bear. Or he is a vast mine of thought, of sympathy, of grace, and only the industrious, who sink the shaft of inquiry, of fellowship, of faith, will know what the mine contains. Paul knew. - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;