Thursday, August 2, 2018

Colossians Words Day 2: Love

Day 2 ~ Love

In the same prayer where Paul thanks God for the Colossians because he had heard about their faith in Christ Jesus, he also thanks God because he has heard of their love for all the saints.
"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel." Colossians 1:3-5
As we trace the word love through the book of Colossians we learn a lot about the significant role love plays in our life as Christ followers.
"You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit." Colossians 1:7-8
"I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. " Colossians 2:1-3
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14
(Love is also mentioned in 1:13 and 3:19)

The first thing I notice is something God has been pressing into me for quite some time - that might be why it jumped off the page immediately! We do not produce love, the Holy Spirit is the source of love. Another way of stating Colossians 1:8 would be " ...has told us of your love that the Spirit brings about in you". I'm going to step out of Colossians some to dig deeper into this. God is love (1 John 4:8) and He has "poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us" (Romans 5:5). We cannot simply work harder to try to love more because love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Spirit produces love in us. Thus, in order to love more, the answer is not to try harder to produce love ourselves. Rather, our role is to connect more with Christ through the Holy Spirit and  to depend on Him. The result, or fruit, that comes from this deep abiding is love. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."    1 John 4:13-16
So, to grow in love, what we really need to do is position ourselves to grow in depending on the Spirit, abiding in Christ, not trying harder to love.
The second thing I see as we trace love through Colossians is that the way our faith is made visible is in our loving others. Paul stated in his prayer of thanksgiving that he had heard of their love for all the saints (1:4). Paul goes on to remind the Colossians (and us) in chapter 3 that they are God's chosen people who are holy and loved. Because they are ones who are loved by God and made holy, Paul calls then to express love in their community in characteristically loving ways: with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience". Commentator Marianne Meye Thompson says, "These traits, so contrary to the natural, grasping, self-seeking way of human beings, comes about as fruit of God's Spirit in the believer and in the church." We respond to God's love for us with love for others. Our faith is seen in the loving behavior we express to others in our faith community: We "bear with each other", we "forgive each other", and we don't hold on to grudges (Colossians 3:13). Tough acts that we cannot do within our own power!

Paul says the most important virtue for building our  unity as the body of Christ is love (3:14). Paul has shown us this elsewhere as well. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Summing up that chapter, Paul says "I will show you the most excellent way (13:1)....the greatest of these is love" (13:13). In Galatians 5 Paul tells us,  "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (5:6). Later in Galatians 5 he reminds us that "The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself" (5:14). John adds that our love for others will show that we are Christ's followers: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

I write this as one who is woefully inadequate to write about loving others. I so often fall short. But I also write this as one who knows that God's grace and mercies are renewed each morning. God has gifted us with His Spirit and in this we can rejoice! Our ability to love others comes from our relationship with the source of love.

Please share your creative responses to today's word and Bible verses in the Words Facebook group or on Instagram using #colossianswords.

#foundonbrighton #everydayjournals2018

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