I am grieved by the tone of today’s rhetoric as I am sure you are.
There is so much toxic public conversation with accusation, shaming, vulgarity, you-name-it. It troubles me. Are we like the frog in the proverbial pot of water on the stove, with the temperature being raised so slowly that we did not jump out when there was still time, before we boil? Can’t we all get back to more civil engagement with each other?
Colossians 3:12-15 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… And be thankful.”
How often this standard is violated in me and in our fallen world. These simple commands struck deep contrition in my heart as I thought about each characteristic.
Compassion: identifying with the distress of others to relieve their discomfort. God is described as compassionate more than 50 times in the Old Testament. The Gospel writers described Jesus as having compassion 5 times. And in the magnificent portrait of the father of the prodigal son, he was filled with compassion for his son.
Kindness: choosing to be considerate, others-focused, and generous.
Humility: The opposite is pride, which destroys as it makes a person feel more entitled, thus more demanding, more insistent on control and having the last word.
Gentleness: responding so that a person feels safe with you, essential to a relational bond.
Patience: choosing to be willing to wait for gratification or vindication.
Forbearance: choosing patient self-control, restraint, and tolerance; choosing being long-bothered without showing any ill temper. In law, it is refraining from exercising a legal right.
Forgiveness: choosing to give up the delusion that you yourself have nothing to forgive.
Love: choosing to live in 1 Corinthians 13.
Peace: choosing to commit to making peace, not war. Letting Jesus referee in your heart.
They are all about the character of God. He has shown Himself to be this to each of us. We now get to choose to respond to others out of our experience of His indwelling grace.
We all make choices every day. I choose to walk the Colossians 3 way.
By Sylvia Gunter
Used by Permission
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