06 January Devotion
Readings: Col 3: 12 - 4:1
In the first two and half chapters of the epistle to the Colossians Paul has been reminding them of the gospel; the good news of what God, in Christ, did for humanity. He exhorted them not to allow anyone to captivate them “through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Col 2: 8). He re-preached the finality and completeness of Christ’s atoning work for them. The debt has been paid; they are free. The gospel is God’s final word to his church. Believers have died and been raised with Christ and their lives are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3: 3).
But what does a person’s life look like after receiving the gospel? Paul goes on to describe. In short, it is a life of freedom. Since in Christ the Colossians are righteous in God’s sight, no more work needs to be done to obtain forgiveness; they are free from the fear of not pleasing God. God does not need the good works directed towards him. Christ fulfilled the law. The good works which flow from a Christian’s life are horizontal; they are directed towards the neighbour. Therefore, people who are chosen, holy, and dearly beloved would look like this: compassionate, kind, gentle, and patient. They would be forgiving of each other. Love overflows in marital and parental relationships and even at the workplace (slaves and masters).
It is important to remember that Paul here is not giving a prescription of how to please God or how to earn his approval; he is describing what a person who is united with Christ through the Spirit looks like. In other words, Paul is not giving us a list of things to do to get saved. These good works are the fruit of the Spirit of Christ to whom we are united. One cannot ask an orange tree to bear apples; an orange tree, by nature, bears oranges. Besides giving us the gift of faith, the primary work of the Spirit within us is to birth love towards God and the neighbour.
It is, therefore, not Paul’s intention that we muster some humility or love towards others. He would describe that as “false humility” (Col 2. 23) and in insincere love. The way to bear such good fruit is to abide in Christ; to hear and re-hear the good of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
O Holy Spirit, Love of God, infuse Thy grace, and descend plentifully into my heart; enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling, and scatter there Thy cheerful beams; dwell in that soul that longs to be Thy temple; water that barren soil, over-run with weeds and briars, and lost for want of cultivating, and make it fruitful with Thy dew from heaven.