Where does your most important, soul-satisfying encouragement and comfort come from?
Paul shares the most comprehensive summary of what it means to let the heart of Christ grow in you so that what comes out of you came from Christ first.
Read the verse slowly to identify where you are full or empty with what Christ would give.
Paul doesn’t beat around the bush. He assumes that as we are re-created by Christ, we want the encouragement and comfort from Christ more than from anyone else. He set up an if-then argument to help us understand how a life-nourishing joy comes from four gifts of Christ. When you have them, you have much more than what covers some circumstantial need.
Make a list of where you would have hopelessly drifted, become unnecessarily stuck, been trapped by someone’s words or actions, or paralyzed by some grief or loss had it not been for the encouragement you received from Christ’s unrelenting love poured on you at some critical time.
How much do you depend on encouragement from someone else more than Christ?
We’re not talking cushy couch or air conditioning on a hot day. This is the comfort that wraps our soul in peace when life threatens to undo us. This is comfort from the One Who sees the end from the beginning and gives us more than a pep talk; He gives Himself. This comfort so settles us in some upside-down time that we can persevere without losing hope for the future.
When did Christ comfort you through His Spirit with a comfort so deep that you knew He grieved with you?
We were made for community. We don’t live or work in solitary confinement. Bury yourself in work or family commitments to the point of exhaustion and a gathering of friends is as good as a night’s sleep.
But how much more restoration is there when we draw whatever we need most from fellowship with the Spirit of Christ? Be the child who sits in His lap after some hurt. See Him as your cheerleader, confidante, and trusted counsel. When too many people exhaust you, fellowship with the Holy Presence of Christ restores.
How do you make time to enjoy the restorative and deeply satisfying time with Christ?
Tenderness and Compassion.
We have been rough housed, knocked down, ignored, bullied, and carry wounds that our perpetrators will never see. Christ NEVER damages whom He loves. With a tenderness and compassion that no one else brings so quickly and effectively, Christ binds wounds, heals griefs, looks deep into our soul to say, “I know. I’ve been there.”
Do you recognize where His exhaustless tenderness and compassion has steadied you?
Now, let’s put the pieces back together to find what Paul wants us to know.
If . . .
√ you have been encouraged by Christ,
√ comforted in the way only He can comfort,
√ companioned with fellowship that no other circle of friends can give,
√ nursed with tenderness and compassion beyond the gentlest person you've known;
Then . . .
√ give what you have been given,
√ share what has been shared with you,
√ receive the joy that comes only from Christ, and
√ find heart unity with Christ and those around you.
Now that’s something to live for!