“Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”
This is a beautifully simple verse we’re meditating on today that contains depths of riches! In this first chapter of his letter to the saints at Colosse, Paul said that he gave thanks and prayed always for them. (vs. 3) Yet, we learn later in chapter 2, that he had never met these brothers and sisters in person. (Col. 2:1 & 5) How could Paul be so full of gratefulness for a group of believers he’d never even met?
Epaphras, a fellowservant of Paul, came from Colosse, declaring the “Love in the Spirit” that was evident in the lives of the Colosian saints. This was all Paul needed to hear to know with confidence that these people were true disciples! But, where did this “Love in the Spirit” come from?
Let me start with an illustration: my Mom enjoys decorating her home with a Tuscan flair. Lot’s of warm color, textured wall finishes, elegant paintings of rolling vineyards — it’s really quite lovely! One item she’s always liked to use as an accent decoration in her kitchen is a basket of fruit. It makes for a beautiful centerpiece on her kitchen island. However, there’s one problem. If you look (or feel) closely enough, you’ll realize that, although the fruit appears real on the outside, it’s actually just a fake. More than one guest has grabbed the delicious-looking fruit only to realize with disappointment that it’s simply an imitation. This décor has no nutritional value, no taste, no substance — its only purpose is centered in outward appearance.
There is plenty of “love” in this world. Many well-intentioned people would claim to have love. Unfortunately, it’s all too often the wrong kind of love. Love who’s root is of the flesh is ultimately of no greater value than those fake fruits that my mom uses for decorations — at it’s core, it’s a counterfeit with no real substance. The only kind of Love that has true value and worth is Love that is born of a branch tapped into the Vine — Love that is a FRUIT of the Spirit! Many people may think that they have a form of love, but true Love ONLY comes by being received from a God who IS Love!
Imagine if I were to hand you an apple and ask you where it came from. You might say: “the refrigerator!” Or, “the store!” Or, “an orchard!” Ultimately though, the correct answer is that the apple came from an apple tree, right? This is a very basic question with only one correct answer. It would simply be incorrect to say that an apple came from a peach tree or an orange tree. There is only one source from which an apple can originate. Similarly, there is only one Source for the fruit of Love — the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the True Vine!
So, now that we know the source of true Love, how did this ‘Love in the Spirit’ come to fruition in the lives of the Colossian believers? In verses 5 and 6, we find the key. Paul said that they had “heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel which… …bringeth forth fruit…” As the Colossian believers heard the Word, it brought forth Fruit (Love in the Spirit), which was evident to all those around them. In fact, this Fruit was so evident in their lives, it was declared by Epaphras’ to Paul in his report of the Colossian saints, causing Paul to give thanks!
In John 13:35, Jesus said that all people would know those who are His disciples by their Love for one another. By this standard, the brothers and sisters of Colosse were truly disciples of Christ. They were marked by the Fruit of Love in the Spirit, which was irrefutable evidence of their position as branches connected to the Vine. Because of this, Paul was able to give thanks for them as brothers and sisters in Christ who would be partakers together with him in the riches of Christ’s Kingdom!