Love, in context
Love. Love. Love.
We are very fascinated by the word, and the implications of what we think it is supposed to do in our lives. We write songs that say we could live on love instead of money, or food, or air. However, I would challenge anyone to pay their light bill with “love” and see how well that goes over. Or better yet, try to sustain your body on “love” and skip your next 10 meals. Similarly, we already know what would happen if we gave up breathing air and tried to breathe only “love”.
Each of these examples demonstrate the importance of context. Nothing can be correctly understood outside its proper context – and “love” is no exception. In fact, nowadays, we use “love” to mean such a wide variety of things, that our intended meaning can be easily misunderstood:
“I love chocolate.”
“I love your hair.”
“I love my wife.”
“I love politics.” (sarcasm there)
So clearly, “love” is only understood within the proper context. As you read Paul explain his desire to have all believers reach full maturity, look for love’s context in the life of a believer:
I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding, and have the knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ. In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
When we in God’s family are encouraged and joined together in love, these actions and relationship characteristics are the riches of our assured understanding. Growing in our own relationship with Jesus means that we grow in our understanding of who He is and what He means to us. As this maturity happens, our actions will take on the love that He demonstrated. The outpouring, or riches, of our understanding is found in the love we give to other believers.
And just to be clear…what is our understanding? The Greek word used here carries the idea of a running or flowing together – much like the visual of two rivers flowing together. What Paul is trying to convey is our assured understanding comes from our thoughts and choices merging with God’s flow and direction.
Paul’s words for the Colossians are also an echo of what Jesus told His own disciples:
By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
In its proper context of our knowledge of Christ and our relationship with God, love brings forth an unmistakable richness in believers that is so unique that it is recognized by everyone.
Let’s make sure our understanding and knowledge are grounded in Christ, so we can keep the most important love of all in its proper context.