“I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink, instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face.” John knew, even without Facebook, twitter, and Snapchat, that there was something different about face to face communication that was better than pen and ink. What makes face to face conversations meaningful and essential? Who do you need to see face to face to really communicate that you would like to? God, real communication is work, messy, and time consuming; help us to love others face to face.
“Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” In a world of “tolerance” and “diversity,” God’s word still challenges and warns us. What does it mean to abide in Christ’s teaching? What does it mean to “go beyond it?” Why is this scripture still important for us to hear and apply? Father, it is always easy for us to make faith comfortable and agreeable to our personal desires and whims. Keep us focused on Your truth that endures.
“If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation…and your faith have been in vain.” Just how important is the resurrection of Jesus Christ to Christian faith? In some places “resurrection” has been envisioned as a myth, a story of new beginnings, a story of the disciples with a renewed memory of Jesus and his ideals and mission. Is this enough? What is the purpose of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)? What does this mean for our lives, the church, and our faith and the witness of our proclamation? Your Kingdom come, your will be done, Lord Jesus. Amen.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Love is foundational to the keeping of God’s commandments in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ summarizing the law and purposes of God in the New Testament. Why is love the best? How does it bind all the other virtues together? There is much talk of love in the culture all around us, how is this love we are called to here similar or different than how the term is used elsewhere? Help us to love, Lord Jesus!
“Forgive each other; just as the Lord forgave you…” Forgiving others is not a prescription for how we have assurance of our own sin forgiven, but rather a prayer that we might truly live as those created in the image of God. As His people, we seek to live out his will on earth and in so doing to honor his name throughout the earth. To reflect his image, we forgive. In God’s kingdom relationship are healed and restored. Does my life reflect God’s forgiveness in the world? We want to be like you, our heavenly Father. Amen.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved…Bear with one another” A list of synonyms for “bear with” includes “put up with,” “make allowance for,” “withstand,” “accept,” “tolerate” and “endure.” None of these is easy in the context of our relationships with people. How are these new clothes working out in my life? What makes it possible to “bear with” when my way and needs are not being appreciated or met? Lord Jesus, be it with family, disciples, sinners, Pharisees, or soldiers on the way to the cross, you demonstrate “bearing with.” Grow me to bear with all people every day.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with…patience.” I have heard Christian friends talk of patience probably more than any other virtue. Sometimes they are praying for it, sometimes telling people not to pray for it since God might give you really hard things to bear. What if Paul’s imagery is right, that patience is a virtue that we put on like clothes? It might not feel right. I might look a strange wearing that new outfit, but what if I simply start practicing patience in all situations? Lord Jesus, through intentional practice; make me more patient daily.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with…humility and meekness…” Philippians 2:3-4 share Jesus’ example of humility and meekness as “doing nothing from self-ambition, considering others better than self, and putting the interest of others ahead of your own.” If this represents the best in humility and meekness, how would I look different in my actions toward those around me if I put on these qualities? In what way could I practically put others interest first through this next week? Spirit of Christ; help me this practice putting others interests ahead of mine. Make me aware. Amen.
NOTE: This Lenten season I will focus our devos on “clothing ourselves with the character of Jesus.” Often Lent focuses on “giving up something” and leaves “putting on the new” untouched.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness…” These qualities are not something we possess, but rather the manner in which we live with people in everyday life. I think of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery in John 8, how did Jesus show compassion and kindness in this real life situation? How does compassion and kindness show through my life? How can I intentionally practice these in my life and ministry? Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, clothe me with your compassion and kindness. Amen.
“Put to death whatever in you is earthly…clothe yourselves with…” Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian Calendar. Often I have heard people ask, “What are you giving up for Lent.” Often Lent is seen as sacrifice and giving up. Historically, Lent is giving up that which hinders our relationship with God and taking up (“clothe yourselves”), that which aids our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Why is putting off and putting on both important in spiritual growth? What will you do to aid your relationship with God? Lord Jesus, draw me closer. Amen.