Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:12-17
Just to preface, there are certain scriptures that almost every preacher, teacher, and man or woman of God refer to often. The letter to the Colossians specifically chapter three, and more specifically chapter three verse twelve through fourteen, are in many ways the pillars of what I aim to be as a follower of Christ.
You may have verses or entire books of the Bible that you read regularly to remind you of your first love. I hope you do. I hope each and everyone of you have texts of God’s Word that you have not only memorized, but that you cherish and hold dear. Study those scriptures in context get a whole view of their value and what God is doing in them.
When it comes to these verses in Paul’s Colossians it is important to note that Paul opens the letter with the preeminent view of Christ. He then changes to how we should view ourselves in light of who God is only to ask assert that we should endure anything and everything for the sake of others knowing the what Christ did on the cross, Colossians 1:24 another favorite.
But, this foundation is all set up so that we might understand Paul’s deep concern for others to know the truth of who God is.
I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. – Colossians 2:1-3
Paul is reminding the Colossians of the faith they started with. He is reminding them of the God whom they first put their faith in. He is reminding them of the Lord and what the Lord did through the cross for their sake. This was all a build up for Paul though.
Paul in this section has culminated a dichotic stance of life. Setting your heart and mind on Christ or not. Paul has laid out how we must not only die to our old ways of life before Christ, we must put our old life to death. If we have faith in the creator God of the universe and have our gaze on Him we will not act according to our old desires, but instead we will be renewed to be more like him.
Paul is very critical of false humility found in some ascetic obedience these verses are how we can truly be renewed to be more like God.
When you set both your heart and mind on God you will cloth yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12
This is no simple task and it is not one to be taken lightly. As previously stated, we are to put to death the life we once had. You do not clothe yourself with these attributes while still living in opposition to the Lord. Doing these things while still walking in the former life is not consistent with the God who is professed through the beginning of this letter.
These actions are meant to be lived out by those who have unity in Christ where all are one in and through Him. I started this series on another verse that I find deeply engrained in who I am as a follower of Christ.
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17
We who believe in Christ have committed ourselves to forsake and dispose the idea of being our own. We are Christ’s. We are God’s and His alone. We are to be the ministry of the Gospel putting who He is before and over all that we may think we must be. He is who we desire more than life itself, because He is who gives life itself.
And, in desiring Him we unite ourselves with all who would worship Him. We …have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, Circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. – Colossians 3:11
We look past who someone has been and what other things that might define them. We look at others in light of Christ’s sacrifice for them. We see people as image bearers of the Creator able to be united with Christ and with us in Christ. What can and should define us more than the God of the universe and being one with Him and each other in Him.
Being a Christians is more than simply a title, it is a declaration that we are united as one desiring to share who God is with others.
And so, as we put to death those things that lead to death, we put on what attributes that brings life not simply for ourselves, we put on what brings life to others. This is what the end of these verses emphasize that we live for Christ in all that we do. What we see from Paul’s letters is that living for Christ is living in order that others can know Christ.
Our attributes and actions of forgiving and loving others just as Christ forgave you is part of what unifies us in Christ.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:13-14
This is something that we have went through, but this is the cornerstone to being the Living Gospel. One of the greatest acts for impacting someone’s life for Christ is forgiving as you have been forgiven. If you who have been granted forgiveness cannot abound in forgiveness how are you united with the God whom you claim to imitate and to have died to be live for.
Remember what Christ does for us in Romans 5:20-21 “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Similarly, especially for those we are united with in Christ, we are to forgive and bear with one another abounding in grace as Christ is abounding in grace toward us. How selfish and opposed to the Gospel and God would it be to accept Christ’s grace and not share it with all others in an abundant way?
Remember what Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
We are to present the Gospel through our compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience in every circumstance not simply when we are actively speaking about the Gospel. In doing this we are sharing the Gospel by showing the Gospel with our lives and actions.
Patience is especially important because often times people do not change or grow as fast as we wish they would or we even think we do. Bear with each other with forgiveness showing the unity through how we display the love of God to each other.
The tricky part is to be thankful!
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ dwell in you richly. Remember that the peace of Christ is not some trifle little peace aimed at making you feel less anxious. The peace of Christ is something far superior to that. The peace of Christ breaks down walls of cultural divisions. There is one body of Christ, not many.
The Peace of Christ is more than simply attributes that are given to believers in the fruits of the Spirit. The peace of Christ is something that renews us because we have put to death our old self and its desires. We now desire Christ. And, when we desire and seek Christ we seek to love others in unity.
The Peace of Christ triumphs over hurt and pain that you have suffered in order to unify the body of Christ. Others are worth His humiliation and death, they are worth your humiliation, suffering, and even death. If someone is worth your humiliation, suffering, and even death is there anything you are unable to forgive?
The thankfulness displayed in these verses is following a great deal of sacrifice. Yet, take a breath. The opening to this section prefaces with a simple yet remarkable tactic. Set you heart on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above not on things of earth. Everything falls into perspective like when your innocent little child reminds you to pray when you are frustrated and frantically trying to get ready in the morning.
Those remarkable moments when you realize that in the midst of the moment you have forgotten what the moment is about. The moment is about Jesus. Every moment is about Jesus. The frustrations at work. The tactical differences with you and a team. Your own deficiencies are about Jesus.
You have heard it said God doesn’t give you more than you can bear. I have heard it better said that you are often given more than you can bear so that you give that burden to God. Take a moment, pray. Give thanks to God in all circumstances.
We are blessed to be in a town where the mayor and the council not only allow but invite prayer before their council meetings. Why? They invite and strongly request a pastor to come pray for the meetings because they have noticed the power of peace that it brings. There can be some heated disputes, but our mayor has noted that when prayer and the power of God’s peace is present disputes are minimal in comparison.
If you have ever read the anything from the Voice of the Martyrs you will note that repeatedly the people being tortured and murdered for the name of Christ pray for their attackers that they might know Christ. They do not pray for relief, they instead pray that their struggles might display the greatness of God and transform the lives of those who seek to destroy their life. And, they rejoice when those who caused them pain seek forgiveness and find Christ.
How can we invite, rejoice, and be grateful to God through worship with every breath, every word and every deed? We must imitate those who have gone before, namely Christ, who loved all no matter their atrocities against Him. Through Christ we must find peace, share grace, and be united through our actions in love. This is how declare the greatness of God. And, this is how we show our gratefulness to God.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17