“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Paul asks this rhetorical question in the context that he himself was experiencing imprisonment for preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to encourage the church to be strong because persecution will come to all who believe, and proclaim the name of Jesus.
So we are to dwell on this truth for our own good, as we read and study the scriptures we will find many stories and parables exemplifying each category that Paul asks about.
Is there any ‘encouragement in Christ’, of course; John 4:1-42 in the story of the woman at the well. The significance of this story is revealed in many ways. In this patriarchal society Jesus breaks the ban on speaking to women, making them equal in the sight of God, on the barrier between Samaritan and Jew, making all nations equal in the sight of God, and the focus on Spiritual things superior to physical things, specifically food in this case. This is encouragement to all mankind.
Is there any ‘consolation of love’? Without any doubt; in John 7:53-8:11 Jesus is confronted by the Jewish leaders with a woman, whom they cast down in front of the crowd, who is an adulterer. He turns their hatred for the woman whom they would have die, to himself by standing along side of her, requiring they prove themselves without sin. He therefore is her substitute, her atoner, as he turns their misguided views and hatred to himself, and He refuses to condemn her also. This is love to all mankind.
Is there any ‘fellowship of the Spirit?’ John 3: 1-7 The story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. Nicodemus admits that only Jehovah could do the works that Jesus had done. Here Jesus reveals the need to be born of the Spirit to him, and states; “that which is boron the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. So marvel not that I say, ‘you must be born again.’ ” And Paul writes in all of his epistles about the need to walk in the spirit.
Is there any ‘affection and compassion?’ Luke 16: 19-30 the story of the rich man and Lazarus. A rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen, which indicates that even his underwear was costly, and dined sumptuously each day, yet at his gate lie a poor beggar, Lazarus, begging to fed with the crumbs from the rich mans table. After death the rich man who showed no compassion or recognition of the poor while on earth, went to Hades. While the poor man rested on Abrahams bosom, meaning that Lazarus was at the Great Banquet of Isaiah 64, at Abrahams right side, a position of honor, dining for eternity.
As we study the scriptures we find a myriad of examples of compassion, love, encouragement, and fellowship of the Spirit. Plus we have our own lives with Christ and examples all around us of Christ working.
Look around you and see what God is doing. Every week in my Bible study class I start by asking those in attendance, “What’s God been doing in your life this week?” Stay alert to His working and His calling.