And Over All these Virtues, Put On Love

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JEREMIAH 8:8-9:26 | COLOSSIANS 3:1-17 | PSALM 78:32-55 | PROVERBS 24:27

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Jeremiah is prophesying about the future of the children of Israel.  He is the Lord’s mouthpiece, and this is what the Lord has to say:

8 Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
it speaks deceitfully.
With their mouths they all speak cordially to their neighbors,
but in their hearts they set traps for them.
9 Should I not punish them for this?”
declares the LORD.
“Should I not avenge myself
on such a nation as this?”

The patience of the Lord has worn thin, and this is the proclamation that is made against the children of Israel.  Actions have consequences—both expected and unexpected.  And for now, there is a very direct causal effect to the nature of these prophecies. 

Jeremiah tells the people this:  13 The LORD said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. 14 Instead, they have followed the stubbornness of their hearts; they have followed the Baals, as their ancestors taught them.” 15 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “See, I will make this people eat bitter food and drink poisoned water. 16 I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known, and I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them.”

Furthermore, there is a clear declaration on what is right and what is not, and most importantly, there is a distinction made about the significance of the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law. 

Despite observing the prescribed practices of circumcision and such, the Lord God Almighty is not pleased—because the circumcision of the flesh in and of itself is meaningless without the circumcision of the heart—a matter that is a little more detailed and involved unlike the former which is merely superficial. 

Certainly something to think about, wouldn’t you say?  Jeremiah says:

23 This is what the LORD says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

Turning now to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we find Paul detailing the life of the Christian. 

He tells them:  1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 

He goes on to get even more specific about what this kind of a lifestyle might look like, and loses no opportunity to state that faith in Jesus Christ is something that is free and available to one and all– and that there is no difference between the Jew and non-Jew. 

He says:  5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Paul sets a high bar for the Christian life.  Would that we were to read these following few verses every single day in order to remind us of how we ought to live. 

Paul says this:  12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

It is as if each and every word in this letter is of so great a value, that I cannot bear to leave out anything!  Paul’s final words in this chapter are as follows—these are words that we might wish to say one to another even in this modern day and age.

Paul says:  16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find one in which the psalmist is recounting the many wonders of the Lord over the course of many generations.  It is a historical account of the people that has had a checkered history with their God.  And yet, despite the lack of love and loyalty, this is a God that stood by them and delivered them, and eventually made them a nation and gave them a home. 

This is what the psalmist says of his people:

37 Their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.

Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel, is speaking to the importance of good planning in all of one’s affairs:

27 Put your outdoor work in order
and get your fields ready;
after that, build your house.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

3 thoughts on “And Over All these Virtues, Put On Love

  1. You were very moved by today’s words from both Jeremiah and Paul. Thanks for sharing your reflections! The passage from Proverbs reminded me of the neglecting of gardens that took place this summer. Fortunately we have grocery stores to bail us out on the provision of food. Interesting concept though: in those days one was advised to get the crops growing and the animals cared for and worry about the house later. Makes sense.

    1. Many thanks for your kind words. An excellent observation about the modern conveniences of the availability of food. One may extrapolate to take it to mean planning for anything is a good thing. God bless you.

      1. Good point – it’s about planning. And related to that, prioritizing. Preparing the field before the house. Doing the most necessary first to ensure the possibility of being able to do the other planning/preparation as well.

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