Read Colossians 1:9-14
In the movie Dan in Real Life (a personal favorite), the main character Dan is a columnist who writes about childrearing and other family-related musings. He is thunderstruck when his 15-year-old daughter “falls in love” with a boy she’s only known for three days.
The boy shows up at their family vacation home and Dan finds the two teens snogging by the beach, so naturally, he sends the boy home. Dan tells the boy there’s no possible way the teens feel love for one another when they’ve only known each other for three days.
The boy’s response leaves Dan reeling for a little while because it’s so good. He said, ‘Love isn’t a feeling. It’s an ability.’
Gary Chapman had a sort of similar thought when he wrote the book The Five Love Languages. Whether or not you put a lot of stock in Christian pop culture books like this, he’s got a point that Paul seems to have already made back in 62 A.D.: If you love someone, you will show them. It might be gifts, words, service, time, or touch, but it will definitely manifest itself somehow.
Do you love anyone? I know I say “I love” things all the time — but when I say I love an actor or taco or dog, I’m not actually saying the same thing as Paul is saying in this passage.
Real love compels us to action. Real love isn’t admiration — it’s work! Do you really love anyone by showing it? I don’t mean that there aren’t people you value highly, admire, or have dreamy-eyes for like the day you were married twenty years ago. I’m asking whether or not there are people that you actively love.
Colossians 1:8 contains the idea that the people at Colossae already have love in the Spirit. But Paul’s prayer is that their love would overflow in ‘…walking worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, [and] being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might…’
Paul wants to see the community of believers at Colossae love God by refracting Christ’s light to the world through acts of love. This is a call to action!
And Paul doesn’t leave them there! It’s a tricky teaching (the way that a parent can sometimes kindly coerce a child to do the right thing without telling them). Here is a rephrasing of this section: ‘Because you’re full of love, I pray that your love would overflow in acts that show it — because GOD has done a great work in you by saving you, and whatever you’re pouring out actually comes from His riches!’
So I ask again: Is there anyone you truly love? Who is there in your life right now who needs a sign of your love for them in Christ? Who is there in your life who needs the outpouring of God’s love to you because they don’t know Christ? Who is there you could do a better job loving not only by admiring or appreciating them, but by serving, encouraging, or spending time together with them? Get creative! Go forth in the overflowing love of Christ and share it with others!