“In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
- We hardly need any background here because these verses are so clear and relevant on their own. Paul says when we put on the new nature – our outward status doesn’t matter anymore for it is Christ that unites us. He lives in us.
- So Paul calls us to put aside our differences (denominations, cultural differences, generational preferences, economic status, and anything that might divide us as believers).
- He tells us to wear these clothes:
- tenderhearted mercy
- making allowance for the faults of others
- above all else – LOVE
- “‘Humility’ and ‘gentleness,’ which are related terms, were not considered virtues by the pagan world. The NT, however, deepened and enriched their meanings and made them two of the noblest of Christian graces.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
- Paul knew the Colossians struggled to get along with each other. Our natural defaults without putting on the new nature of Christ go toward the opposite of these things. We will lack mercy, be unkind, puffed up with pride, harsh, impatient, and pointing out the faults of others rather than making an allowance for them left to our own devices.
- Paul calls them to live differently. He tells them they will have no peace and unity as a church unless they go against the grain of their natural defaults and wear the spiritual clothes of Christ. These are His qualities that we can only live out through His Spirit which lives in us.
- He reminds us that we must forgive others just as Christ forgives us. We need these constant reminders because our tendency is to be unforgiving when others offend us. Maybe they use hurtful words, don’t reciprocate when we reach out, gossip behind our backs, or any number of things that cause us pain. The danger comes when we allow unforgiveness to fester and bitterness to grow. Paul tells us to think about all that Christ has forgiven us as perspective and example for how we are to forgive others. Bitterness is like a hot cup of coffee we carry around. When someone bumps us – we burn them and us. It can destroy churches so Paul calls them to make allowance for faults and continually practice forgiveness.
- The text says we are to let the “peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” “The word for ‘rule’ (brabeuo), an expressive term used only here in the NT, originally meant ‘to act as an umpire.’ Here it means that in all inner conflicts as well as in all disputes and differences among Christians, Christ’s peace must give the final decision. We are to do nothing that would violate that peace.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
- Whose faults are you struggling to make an allowance for today? (spouse, church member, friend, neighbor, co-worker?)
- How would your frustration with them look different wearing the clothes listed above (compassion, patience, love, forgiveness)?
- You can’t conjure this up on your own. The peace of Christ must be the umpire over the situation. What steps is the Holy Spirit calling you to make today to work toward peace?
- Since Christ has forgiven you of all your sins (past, present, future), how does that help you forgive this person? (if you are struggling to forgive – read the short story in Matthew 18:21-35 about the unforgiving servant)
Adoration: Praise God that He forgives us through the blood of Christ.
Confession: Admit your struggle to forgive and make allowances for the faults of others.
Thanksgiving: Thank God that through His power in us we can live in peace even with those who drive us crazy.
Supplication: Ask God to give you these spiritual clothes so that you can be free from bitterness and discord in your relationships.