and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.Colossians 1:8(NASB)
At the start of his Epistles to the various churches, we discover Paul giving greetings to the people and thanksgiving to the Lord. Very often in his salutation at the start of his letters, we find Paul giving thanks and praise to God the Father and Jesus Christ Whom He sent. Often he gave thanks for the faith of the saints to whom he was writing and frequently we find Paul interceding for the saints and asking God for their continued well-being and spiritual growth.
Paul wrote his Epistle to the church at Colossae from a prison cell in Rome, for he had become a prisoner-of-Christ. Paul had been flung into jail for the sake of the glorious gospel of grace. How comforting it must have been when he heard some good news about the believers at Colossae from Epaphras, a fellow worker for Christ whom Paul affectionately identified as, "our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf."
Epaphras was not only a fellow member of the Christian community at Colossae, he also held an important pastoral role within the church fellowship. It was this dear saint who informed Paul of the great love the Colossian Christians had for one another and for the Lord Jesus. He told Paul of, "their great love in the Holy Spirit of Christ."
The incredible love of these saints of God, as described by Epaphras, was not mere human affection. This 'love-in-the-Spirit' which thrilled the apostle Paul, was a deep, godly love for the Lord Jesus Christ. The love for one another manifested a depth of affection for one another that only comes from above.
The love about which Epaphras spoke, was a love that surpasses human understanding. He was describing the supernatural love of the Lord Jesus that comes from above. It was not the sort of human love that can ebb and flow with the seasons or be influenced by fluctuating feelings. It was a supernatural love that was created and fuelled by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.
The love about which he wrote brings to mind the new commandment the Lord Jesus gave to all His disciples, as He prepared to face Calvary's Cross, "Love one another, as I have you." He charged them, "by this shall all men know that you are My disciples."
The new commandment Jesus gave - to love as He loved us, as demonstrated in the lives of the Christians at Colossae, did not negate the original commandments given to Moses - to love the Lord our God with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves, for it is only as we love the Lord our God with all our heart that we are enabled to fulfil His new commandment.
However, Jesus' commandment was a new and better commandment - a superior commandment. To love as Christ loves can only be carried out in the supernatural power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ. To love as He loves includes a godly love for our enemies. It exhibits a compassionate heart and forgiving love for those that despitefully use us - even when others say all manner of evil about us falsely for the sake of Christ.
It appears that the love that was exhibited by the Colossian Christians was a godly love that honoured the Lord, a love that would bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. Such love is long-suffering and kind. It doesn't envy or seek its own way. It is not easily provoked and rejoices in the truth - and it is a love which never, ever fails. The fruit of the Spirit starts with LOVE and Paul was informed by Epaphras of, "their love in the Spirit."
The badge of a child of God that is walking in spirit and truth, is the love of God pouring through them and out to others from the throne of grace. The identifying mark of a man or woman who is submitted to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit is the one who walks and works and lives and prays in spirit and in truth - until it can be said that it is not I that live - but Christ Who lives within.
Heavenly Father, I pray that in Your goodness and grace I would put off the things of the fleshly self and walk, moment by moment, in spirit and truth to Your praise and glory - so that others may see and benefit from my 'love in the Spirit' - and glorify You. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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