These reflections help us look into the Bible to discover what God is saying to us today. We find Bible passages to read and questions to ponder. The themes are in the process of being listed in an index with each theme ultimately divided into seven sections. We hope to be completed soon.
“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace …” (v.22) RSV
Now, of course we know there are nine fruit of the Spirit as listed by Paul in his letter to the Galatians, however the first three – love, joy and peace (v.22) are usually linked together; maybe because they are the first three and our memory is challenged to remember the remaining six!
The fruit of the Spirit really all hang together. They are not divisible. If we lose one, we lose all. Unlike the ‘gifts’ of the Spirit they are not apportioned out, one to one and another to another (1 Cor. 12:11). All nine aspects of the fruit lie accessible to every believer.
Love, joy and peace are the marks of a follower of Christ; they are also a blessing to that follower. These three energise us. Their opposites, hatred, misery and stress, drain us of life. So in every way we want to pursue love, joy and peace.
Love forgets about self and seeks the blessing and welfare of others. This is supremely demonstrated for us in the love of God who “sent his only begotten son” to save us (John 3:16).
Joy enables us to ‘re-joice’ in all circumstances. Joy is a steady state dependent not on circumstances, but on the blessed presence of God, a sense that all things work together for good, and above all, the wonderful prospects set before us. Remember Jesus “who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Peace is not produced by absence of conflict; that is the peace which the world can give. The peace of God passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7), and gives us calm in the midst of the storm.
Forgive me Lord when I am not filled with your Spirit. Fill me afresh with your love, joy and peace. Amen.
“… knowledge … a life worthy … power …” (vv. 9,10,11) RSV
If we had to pray for three things for someone’s welfare, what would we choose? Would it be health, happiness and prosperity? When Paul prayed for the Colossians he prayed for their mind, their life and their power.
It must have been a great blessing to have Paul praying for them, but it was not up to them to tell him what to pray for. He chose to pray for the most vital aspects of their life.
First, he prayed “that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (v.9). Paul wanted them to understand who God was and what he had done for them. And he wanted them to know how God wanted them to live. Listening and learning is the beginning of wisdom. We too need to grow up in our faith. As Paul wrote elsewhere, we need to be renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Ephesians 4:23).
Secondly, Paul prayed for them “to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him …” (v.10). They were not to seek happiness or prosperity, though those things are by no means wrong. They were to seek to please their God. Their lives were to be fruitful expressions of his Spirit in them. Their lives were to be an eloquent testimony that would so shine before people that they would glorify God.
Thirdly, Paul prayed for “power” (v.11). In the case of the Colossians this was not the power to heal or speak for Christ, but to endure. They needed power to be patient and joyous (v.11) in spite of adverse conditions. One way that they could do this was to “give thanks” (v.12).
Paul would probably pray the same things for us: to know our God and his way, to live to please him, and to rejoice in all circumstances.
Lord, what a great salvation you have given. Help me to live it by faith with fear and trembling. Amen.
Last week we spoke of the three persons of the Godhead. Today we look at the second great trio in the Bible. ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ are all inextricably linked together. Although we are looking at them in Colossians, they are more usually referred to as being in 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Faith, we are told, is how we are to live in this life. We are required to believe many things that we cannot see. This is not however a blind leap of faith but is based on outward evidence, and confirmed by an inward conviction. We are told to walk through this life by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). It is all a matter of trusting what God has said, and then obeying it.
Unlike Faith, Hope does not change the present. Hope is not to do with the present but with the future. One day things will be better and that hope sustains us in the present. Sometimes faith and prayer do not bring the change in this life that we long for. In those cases (especially when under persecution), hope holds onto the promises of God that one day he will sort it all out.
Faith and Hope sustain us in this life, but they will not be needed in the next one. Faith will be swallowed up in sight and Hope will become a reality. However, Love will go on forever. Love is the essential ingredient of life now and hereafter. Love makes the world go round. But love comes from God, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
We need all three, and all three are gifts of God. If we are lacking in any, then there is only one answer: pray for it. In fact, all three dwell within you by the Holy Spirit so through prayer you will lay hold of them.
Thank you Lord for your incredible threefold gift. Forgive me when I neglect to exercise these gifts within me. Amen.
1 See what Paul says about love.
1 Corinthians 13
2 See the people of faith who still hoped for something more.
“… of God … of Christ … in the Spirit.” (vv. 6-7) RSV
Things come in threes very often in this world. We speak of “third time lucky” or “trouble always comes in threes” or a three-leafed clover. The Greeks felt that ‘three’ was a profound number and was represented by a triangle. Perhaps three is deeply imbedded in creation since it is an extension of the threefold nature of God.
The doctrine of the Trinity is not found plainly stated in the Bible, and indeed it is fairly tortuous to explain it and defend it. Such talk of ‘essence’ or ‘substance’ seems to bring a foreign element into God whom we believe to be ‘spirit’.
But there is no doubt that the three (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are one in relationship and one in activity. As Jesus said: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and elsewhere, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). There are many similar texts that could be quoted.
Today’s reading gives us a natural linkage of the three persons of the Godhead. Paul speaks of the “grace of God” (v.6) and of “Christ” (v.7), and of “love in the Spirit” all in the same breath. The triune God is perfectly blended in harmonious activity.
In turn, we respond by being drawn to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. There is only one God and he draws us by “grace” (v.6) and by “love; (v.7). God so loved the world that he sent his only Son (John 3:16), so that we might be convicted by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8).
Great is the mystery of this Faith. But unless the pure and perfect God comes down in person to save us, then there is no hope. If he simply tells us to be good then we are lost!
Thank you Lord that your plan and purpose are perfect. Who could have dreamt it? You are indeed three in one. Amen.