When the apostle Paul sent his letter to the Colossians, he was trying to help them avoid the distractions of unbelievers who were pulling them in the wrong direction. His mission was to get the Colossians centered on the teachings of Jesus. Near the end of his letter he offered some fairly simple advice that essentially sums up what it means to be a Christian. The struggle of believers living in a largely unbelieving world isn’t much different today than it was back in Colossi. We are constantly bombarded by competing interests pushing us toward compromise in our walk with Jesus. We need to be flexible in some ways to survive, but in other ways we need to stand strong. Indeed, by sticking to Paul’s advice we will be made strong through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Compassion means to care, kindness means to act on your compassion, humility means to set yourself aside, gentleness means to demonstrate sincere concern, and patience means you will trust God. These are all simple concepts, but in the real world taking on an attitude like this can become complicated. How can you have compassion for two people who are on opposing sides? How can you set yourself aside when the outcome might damage you personally? And it’s not easy to be gentle and patient when the devil’s demons are attacking.
Keep in mind, as a follower of Jesus you aren’t working without a net. In fact, you have something much better than a net that will catch you when you fall; you have the Holy Spirit living inside you that is energized by your willingness to follow Paul’s advice. Your honest effort to live in the manner described in the above Scripture will empower you with an ability to make the complex simple. Not in your own power; but through the power of God.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Our undeserving reward granted by God through his Son Jesus Christ is something we need to duplicate every time we are wronged. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and we are thereby granted eternal life when we place our trust in Him. That amazing gift should transform our hearts in a way that dilutes our anger and allows us to understand those who bump and bruise us along the way.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14 (NIV)
Christians are different. That difference is fueled by love. That difference should manifest itself in service to others with an understanding heart. Every encounter we have throughout our daily life is an opportunity to check ourselves against this metric; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bounded together with love.
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