“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” (Colossians 1:11)
Before we get into looking at our verse for this week, I’d ask you to open your Bible and read the parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. As you read the parable, I’d like you to put yourself in the place of the Good Samaritan and ask yourself if you would react the same way.
An elderly woman who had little formal education was teaching her granddaughter the principles by which she lived her life. She had six short phrases which she had taught her daughter and was now teaching her granddaughter: 1) Wash what is dirty. 2) Water what is dry. 3) Heal what is wounded. 4) Warm what is cold. 5) Guide what goes off the road.
But perhaps most important was the phrase which this old grandmother saved for last. It was in essence a summary of the first five and also is a good summary of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Grandma’s last phrase. 6) Love people who are the least lovable because they need it the most.
When Jesus told us in the parable of The Good Samaritan to “go and do likewise," he was in essence asking each of us to carry out the grandmother’s last principle.
So how well do you do at loving those who are the least lovable? There might be some situations in our lives where that is rather easy, but I’m guessing there are many situations where we know that we should be a Good Samaritan and it seems difficult, if not impossible.
That is where our verse for this week comes into play. When you find it difficult, if not impossible to love someone who seems unlovable and yet you realize that you should show them kindness and love, because they need it the most, Paul tells us that we can find our strength to be loving in God.
Maybe it has struck you that each one of us has been the recipient of love from a Good Samaritan when we were unlovable. Each of us has been loved more than we can ask or imagine from Jesus, the ultimate Good Samaritan.
The same Jesus who loved (and forgave) us when we were absolutely unlovable in the depths of our sins gives us the motivation and the strength to love others as he first loved us.
Paul then gives us two attributes which we can gain when we find our strength in God – “endurance and patience."
Very likely as your read those two attributes, your mind went to people or situations in your life where you recognized you would have liked more of one or both of them to be more loving.
Perhaps you have had a situation in your life which has gone on for years and just seems to get worse instead of better. You know that you should embrace someone or a situation in love, but you just feel worn out from dealing with this over an extended period of time or one seemingly bad situation after another. Look to God in his Word and Sacraments and know that you will be “strengthened with all power according to his glorious might." This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be a perfectly loving and caring Good Samaritan. But God promises and keeps his promise that he will give you strength to endure when you know and feel that you can’t do it on your own.
Maybe you’ve felt like you have shown love in a particular situation over and over again and it seems like that love is not appreciated or accepted. That is where the second attribute which Paul mention comes to us with the strength which God gives – “patience." You’ve likely felt like: “I’m ready to give up and not keep on trying." That is where God gives the strength to be patient when you feel like you’ve been taken advantage of.
The next time you know that you should be loving and you are struggling, look to God for his strength and then find “endurance and patience."
For a closing prayer, I’d like to share with you one verse of a newer Christian hymn which speaks to the heart of our verse and devotion for this week.
Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in your likeness
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All your purposes for your glory.
Posted by Joel Gaertner
Rev. Joel Gaertner is The Lutheran Home Association Vice President of Ministry and National Director of Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM). He provides spiritual guidance to our entire organization and develops and guides JCM programs in congregations. Pastor Gaertner and his wife, LuAnn, live in Cudahy, Wis., and have two adult children. Outside work, he enjoys golf, walking and watching just about any sporting event, especially the Green Bay Packers.