We are living in interesting times. As I write this, we are being urged to remain in our homes so that we can attempt to stop the spread of a virus that is sweeping across our country. As I speak with people, it seems that many are struggling to find hope in the midst of this crazy time. As I opened my Bible to study and pray this morning, I was encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. In verses 14-21, the apostle gives us a beautiful reminder that should serve as great encouragement through these difficult times.
In Ephesians 3, we read,
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”- Eph. 3:14-21
It’s in these verses that we gain insight into the Apostle Paul’s heart for those whom he labors. It’s in these verses that we see Paul praying for the saints in Ephesus. Notice that Paul isn’t praying that they would be strengthened by worldly means (i.e. finances, perfect circumstances, earthly contentment, etc.) but by remembering the glorious love of Jesus Christ.
It’s in these verses that we see that Paul’s desire is for the saints in Ephesus to know the love of Christ. He has spent the first three chapters expounding on the glorious doctrine of soteriology (salvation), but we see that he doesn’t simply want the believers to understand the concepts, he wants them to grasp these truths; to experience them fully. Paul then gives us four aspects of Christ’s love to meditate on.
Rooted and Grounded in Love
Paul is praying that the Christians in Ephesus would be strengthened by the Spirit to be rooted and grounded in love (v.17). He wants the love of Christ to be the foundation of their lives. He wants them to build upon this glorious truth. For Paul, the love of Christ is to be the soil upon which thanksgiving and contentment in life springs. As a seed receives its nutrients from the soil, and as a well-built house is established on a firm foundation, so must our lives be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ. It’s in the love of Christ for us that we draw our strength.
When we understand who we are in Christ and what Christ has done for us and through us, a life of gratitude and faithfulness will spring. The love of Christ is the foundation upon which we build our lives of faithful service to God. We don’t work for our salvation, but from it. When we meditate on what has been done for us through the gospel of Christ, may we desire to serve him all the more. I would encourage all that are reading to go to Ephesians 1:3-14 and meditate on what has been done for you in Christ.
We must know the dimensions of Christ’s love
Paul prays that we would comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love for us. He wants us to understand how wide Christ’s love extends. It’s for the Jew and the Gentile (Eph. 2:11-22). There is not one people group that has a monopoly on the love of Christ. The ramifications for this are astounding. This understanding eliminates favoritism and personal biases. We also see the length of Christ’s love for us. The prophet Jeremiah said, “He has loved you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).” How amazing is that? The love of Christ is from everlasting to everlasting. It never ceases. It’s not as if His love is gone the moment we sin, and we have to try and earn it back. It never stops. What an encouragement!
His love is as lofty as the heavens. David said, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him (Ps. 103:11).” The love of Christ exalts us into the heavens that God may display us as evidence of the immeasurable richness of his grace and kindness towards us (Eph. 2:6-7). We see in this chapter that the love of Christ runs deep. Again, in Psalm 103 we read, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (v.12).” Further, we read that the love of Christ has reached into our hearts and cast our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). He has reached down into the pits and raised us from the dead and made us alive in Him. Oh, what a beautiful reminder this is for us today!
We must marvel at His Love
Paul prays that we may know the love of Christ that “surpasses all knowledge (v.19).” We will never fully comprehend the love of God towards us in Christ. May we continue to marvel at his grace and kindness towards us. Yet, Paul wants us to labor to understand as much as we can. May we stop and marvel at God’s great love for us today. May we take a break from the fears, stresses, and anxieties of life and marvel at His loving-kindness displayed in the gospel of Jesus.
May this love mature us into the image of Christ
Paul prays that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19). We will mature in the faith by continuously remembering what has been done for us through the gospel of Jesus. May the love of Christ mature us into His image. I pray that as we continuously meditate on the gospel that we would be filled with gratitude and spurred on to serving Christ and being all that He calls us to be.
May We Grasp These Truths with All the Saints
Lastly, we see that Paul prays that we would comprehend the greatness of God’s love for us with all the saints (3:18). May we live intentionally with all the saints as we are united around the gospel. This is a reference to the importance of the church. We see that God intends to shape us through community as we reflect on His gospel. We may be urged to live in isolation at this time, but we can still stir one another’s affections of Christ through technology. Call your brothers and sisters and talk with them. Remind them of the beauty of the gospel, of the hope of the gospel, of the immeasurable riches of the gospel. May we come out of this strange time more mature in the faith than when we entered into it.
I leave you with this prayer from the Valley of Vision on “The Love of Jesus.” It says,
O Father of Jesus,
Help me to approach thee with deepest reverence, not with presumption, not with servile fear, but with holy boldness.
Thou art beyond the grasp of my understanding, but not beyond that of my love.
Thou knowest that I love thee supremely, for thou art supremely adorable, good, perfect.
My heart melts at the love of Jesus, my brother, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, married to me, dead for me, risen for me; He is mine and I am his, given to me as well as for me; I am never so much mine as when I am his, or so much lost to myself until lost in him; then I find my true manhood.
But my love is frost and cold, ice and snow; Let his love warm me, lighten my burden, be my heaven; May it be more revealed to me in all its influences that my love to him may be more fervent and glowing;
Let the mighty tide of his everlasting love cover the rocks of my sin and care; then let my spirit float above those things which had else wrecked my life.
Make me fruitful by living to that love, my character becoming more beautiful every day. If traces of Christ’s love-artistry be upon me, may he work on with his divine brush until the complete image be obtained and I be made a perfect copy of Him, my Master.
O Lord Jesus, come to me, O Divine Spirit, rest upon me, O Holy Father, look on me in mercy for the sake of the well-beloved.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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