As I was thinking about the next main topic of this series (the bounty), I was struck while doing my morning devotions. Reading through Paul’s epistles has brought me to the book of Colossians. Before beginning the book, I read the background information about the book provided in my Bible and was hit with the fact that it is believed that Paul was writing this book to the church in Colossae even though he, personally, had never visited that church and knew of them only through his friend and fellow colleague in the faith, Epaphrus. And yet, Paul begins this letter by penning a prayer from him to God for them. The prayer is quite stirring and powerful when you realize that this is written for saints the Paul doesn’t truly know personally. It’s beautiful and, when we read it through the eyes of a teacher, as Paul, among his many talents, was a teacher, adds another level to the true hopes and desires of a teacher and reveals what the Christian teacher prays the bounty of their work will be. This is the connector between the idea of a teacher’s service for their students and, more importantly, their God, and the reward/bounty of the work of the teacher. It places the reward/bounty of teaching in the proper perspective: that it is all God’s doing, not, ultimately, the teacher’s. Godly teachers realize that all the blood (figuratively speaking, hopefully), sweat, and tears they shed on behalf of their students would all be in vain without the guiding hand of their heavenly Father, and, so, the Christian teacher prays. He prays, as Paul, for students that he knows on differing levels: for some with whom he has built strong teacher-student relationships and for others, perhaps, with whom he has less of a relationship as they’ve kept themselves more distant, or, simply, aren’t as easy to get to know and more reserved. Yet, the teacher prays:
I give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, students and fellow heirs of the promise. Praise be to God for your faith in Christ Jesus, for the love which you show for all the saints great and small at our school, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, for the word of the truth of the gospel which is come unto you, as it is in all the world and bringeth forth fruit since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth. And therefore, for this cause, I cease not to pray for you, to desire that ye be filled with the knowledge of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness. So, thanksgiving to the Father, who has made us worthy in Christ to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light and who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son. Amen. (adapted from Colossians 1:3-13)
May this be an encouragement for you as you wrap up this year. God has given us His little children to be in our care. Our patience can run thin sometimes as the students prepare and become antsy for summer. Yet, may we pray. Pray that they be filled with the knowledge of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding and walk in that way that is pleasing in God’s sight.
Mr. Ethan Mingerink is a teacher at Covenant Christian High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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