Cruising Route 66
A Rose by Any Other Name
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
I know it isn’t Valentine’s Day nor is it even close, but the letter Paul writes to the church in Colossae is truly a biblical love letter. Legend has it that in the 3rd century there was a Christian who lived in Rome named Valentine. He was imprisoned during one of the persecutions against the Christians and sentenced to death. While in prison, Valentine was able to gather wild roses outside his cell window. He would send them to his loved ones with the message, “Remember your Valentine.” After his death, he was canonized by the Catholic Church, thus “St. Valentine’s Day,” a day to remember loved ones.
A Valentine is a lot like each of us. It’s usually made of paper with some lace and color. They are big and small, fancy and plain, expensive and cheap, You too are made of a substance that won’t last very long. It doesn’t weather well, and it tends to tear easily. Some of us come in colored envelopes, and others in just plain white. Some of us are big, and some are small, some fancy, some not decorated at all.
Like the Valentine, there is one thing for certain: it’s what is written on the inside that is most important because it speaks of the heart of the sender. Paul said we are God’s chosen people, and when people look upon us they should see within us the character of the One who sent us. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are all to be stitched together with the fine threads of Love.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. Colossians 2:2
“My purpose,” says Paul, “is like that of the Valentine, to encourage the heart, and unite in love.” What is it that The Beatles sing, “All we need is love” – “Love is all we need.” The truth of the matter is, love is what we need, but singing and talking about it isn’t enough.
Love is like a rose. It needs to be grown. It starts with being planted. The ground is tilled, and a tender shoot is set deep into the soil. It takes root and grows into a strong and healthy vine. It then blossoms into a beautiful flower. This is not instantaneous, and it isn’t a matter of positive thinking, or merely a choice, although choice is involved. It requires a process.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints–the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. Colossians 1:3-6
This is a letter of hope that comes by means of the gospel. In these opening verses, Paul emphasizes the word hope, and this is repeated throughout the book of Colossians, even though the church of his day was facing what appeared to be a hopeless future.
Alexander Pope was the author of an often-quoted proverb, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” However, that isn’t always true. There are times when we all lose hope. Now as crass as this may sound, it is true, there is no better place to plant a rose than right in a manure field. The “rose of Sharon” blooms best in a life that seems to have turned into fertilizer. Hope shines brightest in the darkness of despair.
Paul is writing to those who were once hopeless, but no longer. They found their hope, and with it, two other commodities that are required for God’s rose to grow are faith, hope, and love.
In I Thessalonians, Paul writes about “your work of faith,” “your labor of love,” and “your patience of hope.” At the end of I Corinthians 13, “And now these remain faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.” According to Colossians love comes from only one root. It springs up from hope! Here is the making of your rose. It is root is Hope. Without hope, our faith has no substance.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Its stem is faith. It is upon our faith that we reach upward, above our trials, pain, lusts, and heartache to grasp the hand of our Savior.
Your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. I Corinthians 2:5
The ever-unfolding bud is love. With each stage of its maturity, it takes on a new and special beauty.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
It is important to recognize that these wonderfully warm words, faith, love and hope, are related. They are the qualities of authentic Christians. Hope produces faith, and faith in turn grows into love. Hope is the root, faith is the plant, and love is the blossom. Hope is foundational. Without it we have no sure footing in this life or confidence in the next.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, …. Colossians 3:15
Until next time,