While in prison, Paul spent time writing to some of the churches he had visited, as well as the church at Colosse. This congregation is believed to be a church plant from the believers in Ephesus – FRUIT from Paul’s time in Ephesus. Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon and Philippians are known as the “prison letters.”
When Colossians was written, Epaphras was visiting Paul. He told him all about how the church in Colosse was doing. Paul wrote three letters and sent them back with Tychicus to deliver to the church in Colosse, the church in Ephesus, and to a man named Philemon who lived in Colosse. This morning I chose Paul’s letter to the Colossians to read first. I would like to take the next five days to look at 5 statements I once heard my husband, Scott, make regarding this letter to the Church.
There is no FAITH without FRUIT
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explained to them that they are made right in God’s sight not by their own righteousness, but by God’s righteousness. He warned them of the danger of seeing all of the good things we are doing and making our salvation about what WE have done right in light of how wrong others are, forgetting that it is by HIS righteousness that we are saved and not our own.
In James’ letter, which we looked at this summer, James teaches how God wants our faith to be evident in the way we live out our lives – the way we persevere through hard times, the way we treat those around us, the way we study God’s word, the way we speak to others, and the way we submit to God – in our FRUIT.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you way, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well” – but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless…So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. – James 2:14-17,24 (NLT)
Made right with God – that sounds a lot like Paul’s letter to the Romans. But is James agreeing or disagreeing with Paul? Let’s look at how these verses in James agree with Paul’s letter to the Christians at Colosse and then how they agree with Christ’s own words.
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then THE WAY YOU LIVE will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good FRUIT. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. – Colossians 1:9-11a
So how can we live a life worthy of our Savior and please Him in every way:
– Produce every kind of good fruit in our lives
– Grow as you learn to know God better and better
– Be strengthened by Him so that we may have great endurance and patience
As we spend time in God’s presence, growing and learning and getting to know God more and more, we are strengthened by Him. He gives us gifts of wisdom and endurance and patience. He begins to mold and shape us into who He created us to be. This change in our hearts is evidenced by a change in our lives. We begin to live out our faith, the faith by which we are saved, and the evidence of this faith is seen in our FRUIT.
Well we are off to a good start then because we are spending time today in His word, studying Scriptures and asking for wisdom and understanding so that we may know His will for our lives – so we may grow in the knowledge of God. And what happens when we ask God to fill us with wisdom? Let’s go back to James letter to answer this question.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. – James 1:5
And what is the product of the life of those given wisdom?
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by DEEDS done in the humility that comes from wisdom…But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good FRUIT, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:13,17
When we spend time in God’s presence and in the study of His Word, we begin to grow in wisdom and we are strengthened in our faith. It is this wisdom from God that produces the deeds. The result of this relationship – this intimacy with God – is evidenced in our FRUIT as we remain in Him all day.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much FRUIT. For apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5