“since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;”
Paul gives thanks (v.3) for the Colossians because they operate on fundamental methodologies of the Christian faith.
“since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus”
Note the subject for which Paul gives thanks–for the work of God in them. God worked three principal graces in their lives: faith, love, and hope.
First, God worked faith in their lives. The Colossians were willing to risk their future by their faith in Christ. Faith here is not an act of faith but an attitude of faith. It denotes the idea of firm persuasion and, therefore, trust. Faith is past oriented. It rests upon facts; it is based on the past. Faith is no leap in the dark.
The emphasis in this context is upon believing in Christ instead of false heresies and philosophies about to be denounced. This is faith anchored in Christ, resting in him. It is the soul’s reliance upon him. Our faith should sink into him as the anchor sinks into the floor of the sea.
Of the trio of graces, faith always comes first and must come first. We should never discredit faith in favor of love. Faith is the foundation of virtue. It is no mere feeling. Faith is a fact of experience that has a worthy object of truth. Christ, the object of faith, gives faith its value.
If we deposit money in a bank, our money is not safe in relation to the dimension of our faith in the bank. It is safe in relation to the size of the bank’s solvency. We are not a Christian because we exercise faith; we are a Christian because we exercise faith in Christ. Faith is not the key; the key is the object of faith (Jesus Christ, Col. 2:5; Acts 20:21;24:24; Gal 2:16; 3:22,26; Phil 3:7-9; 2 Ti 3:15).
Paul thanked God for two things: one vertical and horizontal, one horizontal and visible, and the other perpendicular and invisible. “Faith in Christ”–that is perpendicular and invisible. “Love for all the saints” is horizontal and visible. We prove we have faith in Christ when we love the saints. We demonstrate faith when we love the brethren. Faith is for the sake of love. We do not love for the sake of faith.
The value of our faith lies in the object of our faith.
We may have faith in ourselves, faith in humanity, faith in our physician, wife, husband, and the structure of government, but none of these faiths are the proper object of a relation with God. We are not right with God until we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the true object of our faith.