The apostle Paul had never met the Christians in Colossae when he wrote to them. His friend Epaphras had visited their city in Asia Minor and told the Colossians about the gospel of Jesus Christ. As he opens the letter, Paul identifies himself as an apostle called by God’s will, and he connects himself with his partner in ministry, Timothy. After grounding himself in his relationship with God and his partner in ministry, Paul thanks God for the faith of the Colossians and for the way their faith has flowed into love. This faith and love come from the hope of God’s future that Epaphras told them about.
Then Paul uses the metaphor of fruit. The gospel, Paul says, has been bearing fruit and growing through the whole world, just as it bears fruit and grows among the Colossians. Paul’s prayer of thankfulness makes clear the fruit is grounded in faith and love, based in hope. As Colossians 1:8 describes it, the fruit is “your love in the Spirit.” Paul indicates that when the gospel is at work in people’s lives, growth and fruit are natural outcomes.
This introduction to Paul’s letter shows some of the ways that Paul views the gospel as profoundly relational. Paul grounds his own identity in his relationship with God and his partnership with Timothy. Paul reminds the Colossians that Epaphras brought them the gospel, and the fruit of the Colossians’ engagement with the gospel is love, both for God and for each other. The Holy Spirit is equipping them (and us) for love. We do not bear fruit in isolation, but only as we are supported by and giving to others. And our love for others is the fruit.
God, you use the growth and fruitfulness of nature to teach us about yourself and your call to us. Remind us of the connections to others and the reliance on the Holy Spirit that make good fruit possible. Amen.
Amos is a farmer called by God to deliver a message to Jeroboam, the king of Israel (the northern kingdom in the divided monarchy). Because the king has not listened to the warnings from God, judgment will come. The psalmist also warns of judgment, in this case for those who oppress the weak and needy and fail to protect them from the wicked. Such heartless people will surely be brought low by God. The opening to the letter to the Colossians is a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith in Christ and the spiritual fruit they are producing in the world. The parable in the Gospel reading challenges our human tendency to ignore need. Jesus teaches that mercy should overcome any reason we might find to harden our hearts.
Read Amos 7:7-17. Look for God’s plumb line in the world. In what ways is the ground you stand on askew?
Read Psalm 82. If you sit on the council of the Most High, how does this change your perspective on the world?
Read Colossians 1:1-14. Prayers of mere words are just the beginning of prayer. To what prayerful actions do your prayerful words call you?
Read Luke 10:25-37. The author writes, “Even those trying to be faithful walk askew.” Consider how you live out Jesus’ call to love your neighbor.
Respond by posting a prayer.
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