3 John 4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Salvation is such a wonderful experience. I'm sure we can all look back very fondly at that moment when we bowed our head and received Christ as our Saviour. I will never forget going into church on that Easter Sunday as a lost teenager, hearing the gospel preached, being convicted of my sin, walking down the aisle, being led outside where the glorious gospel was personally shared with me, bowing my head and receiving Christ. I will never forget how I felt that Sunday afternoon as I returned home, understanding exactly what had happened to me, and experiencing the joy of the burden of my sin being lifted from my shoulders.
But there is something else that is almost as wonderful as experiencing Salvation personally, and that is sharing the gospel with someone who does not know Christ and seeing them accept Him as their Saviour. I remember as vividly as I do my Salvation experience the first time I led someone to the Lord. I remember sitting at her dinner table with my partner, sharing verses from the Bible and explaining God's wonderful plan of Salvation. As I looked up after sharing the final verses, ready to ask if she understood and wanted to trust Christ, I saw tears streaming down her face. A moment later, she bowed her head and trusted Christ as her Saviour.
But there is still another joy that is mentioned in our verse from III John. That is the joy we experience when someone we win to the Lord begins to grow, walks with God, and follows the Bible in their life. This is the joy when someone you win becomes a dedicated child of God and is also winning others to the Lord. Our responsibility in this goes beyond just winning them to Christ. We must encourage them in the Lord as well, and help them to grow in their newfound faith. I can look back and remember those individuals at my church who took a young, immature believer and encouraged me in my walk, counseling me, recommending books and tapes to listen to.
But as we seek to help new converts, I believe there is a key missing ingredient that Paul refers to here in Colossians. That key is prayer. Epaphras prayed for these believers in Colossae that they would be stable, mature, and complete in their faith. Yes, we need to be an encouragement to new believers, getting them to church, getting them a Bible, helping them to understand doctrine and Christianity, encouraging them in their daily walk with God. All of these must be done, but without prayer the job seems almost insurmountable.
Let me leave you with these last two thoughts. First, whom are you encouraging in their walk of faith? Is there anybody in church that you are responsible for, that you are investing in their growth in Christ? Secondly, and just as important if not more, are you praying for them? Are you daily asking God to help them to become a mature disciple of Christ? You see, we cannot do the work of God without the power of God. We cannot change people, only God can. We cannot do the work of God on our own. It is true that all believers need prayer, but it is vitally important for those who are new in their faith, who are daily facing decisions that will determine the direction of their faith. I encourage you to pray for new converts and those you are encouraging in the faith.
How can we follow through and see God do a great work in and through our lives?
As it made sense for the One who was the Word of God to follow the Word of God, so too does it make sense for His followers to do the same.