Is Our Faith Known?

by Dennis Stackhouse

As the apostle Paul was beginning his letter to the Christians at Colossae, he made this statement in Colossians 1:3-4: "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints."  What a wonderful commendation that is coming from the apostle Paul to the Colossian brethren.  This undoubtedly gave the Colossians a great sense of satisfaction that Paul was thanking God for them in his prayers regarding their faith and love, a faith and love that were known beyond the confines of their own local congregation and community.  But that begs an interesting question for Christian men and women living in the twenty-first century: Is our faith known by others?

Let's consider a few more Scriptural examples of this concept.  In Ephesians 1:15-16 we read the following: "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers."  These verses seem to indicate that Paul had not solicited this information about the brethren in Ephesus, but that news had made its way to him that this congregation also embodied a noteworthy faith and love.  And again, because of how the Ephesians were conducting themselves, he did not cease giving thanks to God for them in his prayers.  Can the same thing be said about us?

Another similar passage is found in I Thessalonians 3:6-7: "But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith."  In this case, Paul got word directly from Timothy that the Thessalonians were praiseworthy in terms of their faith and love.  This was not only an encouragement for the Thessalonians, but for Paul as well.  We remember that the apostle's first trip to Thessalonica did not turn out that well; he had to leave town at night because of the Jewish opposition (Acts 17:1-10).  Notice also that Paul was comforted by what he heard about the Thessalonians from Timothy even though he was personally experiencing distress and affliction.

One more verse is taken from Philemon 5: "Because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints."  Paul had once again heard about the love and faith that characterized Philemon's life.  All these statements we have noted are commending Christian men and women because they were, in essence, letting their faith and love shine forth to the world around them.  In light of this, it seems appropriate to once again ask, what about us?  Is our faith and love known by those who work and live around us?  Could such commendable statements be made about us?  Is this something we need to give greater consideration to in our own lives?