Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV)
We’re all in relationships with other people. Even people in traffic! My list of people is extensive. How about yours? Our most important relationship, however, must be with God. Like relationships of any kind, it must be cultivated, nourished, spent time with, cared for, made to feel important.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day is actually a celebration of relationships. Yes? We celebrate our love for one another. We come together in a loving manner. We share our heart’s desires.
But we’re all different. Granted there are those who think alike and act alike. Then there are those who are completely different in every way. Regardless of whether people are similar or different, we all belong to God. Now, if we could only get along with each other. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
In this month’s passage, Paul is in prison when he writes this message and sends it to the Colossians. He tells them to set aside their rage, their slander, and to stop being at odds with one another. Even today, I find that we are so good about building barriers between each other by using rage and slander. But here’s the good news. God can break them down.
Paul says to clothe yourself with compassion, forbearance, forgiveness, wisdom, gratitude, love, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. These are words to live by in our relationships but so very difficult to accomplish. Yes? I know I struggle daily with this.
If we look at each other with compassion, it helps. In order to do that, we must look at each other as children. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it works. If you look at a person (particularly a difficult one) you might be able to see how they grew up. And how they grew up makes all the difference in how you relate to them because now you can see why they are the way they are. It becomes a turning point. Compassion seeps in and it can change lives.
Kindness—showing kindness in something as simple (or not) as traffic. Like a wave of the hand. It shows kindness in action.
Humility—Jesus’ life exudes humility. Riding a donkey, washing feet, reaching out to the downtrodden. Mother Teresa said, “Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity, and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”
Gentleness—do you respond well to loudness or do you respond better to gentleness?
Patience—not my best attribute. But listening well is a good example of patience. So shut up and listen. Take for instance a patient with Aphasia. This is a disorder affecting speech and language skills. It’s caused by damage to the brain, either by injury or illness. There are various types. These different types can have many different symptoms. The patient might have difficulty speaking, writing, or reading. They may even have difficulty comprehending speech. So, patience is key when in this type of relationship. Then there are kids. Oh, yes, lots of patience there wouldn’t you say?
Forbearance—today this word means patient self-control; restraint and tolerance. In Paul’s day, it meant to bear with and be with. As Christians, we’re called to bear with.
Forgiveness—remember the old adage “to err is human, to forgive is divine.” It’s difficult. Another one of my not so easy things to do.
Wisdom—affects our decisions. Being a parent requires us to be wise. Knowing what battles to fight with your kids. As a leader, it’s knowing that you will be called on to make difficult and sometimes even unpopular decisions.
Gratitude—being grateful for people in our lives and telling them regularly.
Love—all of these things come from love. They will know we are Christians by our love.
If you think about these words you realize they aren’t effective unless we put them into action. Imagine if we clothed ourselves with all of them. Wouldn’t it be awesome!
This really should be your final word.
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!