Paul’s already told us which behaviors to put away in order to demonstrate that we live in the new order. But putting away a behavior is not sufficient; virtue consists of so much more than merely the absence of vice. Which behaviors ought we to put on in place of those we’ve put away? Let’s take a close look at Paul’s answer in Colossians 3:12ff.
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
Paul is reminding the Christians in Collosae that, because they have died with Christ, (Colossians 3:3) they are to put aside the behaviors that are associated with this present evil age and put on the things that are associated with the resurrection self:
“…bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone;” (Colossians 3:13)
A great relief and release are found in the capacity to forgive. “Whoever has a complaint against anyone” -This critical phrase means, “Forgiving when you have a complaint against anyone.” In other words, we will concede the fact that you have been offended; but as for your part, as Paul says in Romans 12, as far as it depends upon you and me we must be at peace with all people. (Romans 12:18)
It is incumbent upon us as the people of God to show forth the life of Jesus Christ–a life of forgiveness. Do not be caught up in a destructive cycle of anger, wrath, strife, and revenge. That kind of lifestyle will destroy you. Forgive just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
“Beyond all these things put on love… let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15)
Here is the final expression of this lifestyle of relationship. Let the peace of Christ–the great saving shalom of God revealed through Jesus Christ–rule in the hearts of the people of God. Let it arbitrate among us as God’s people–into which you were called, just as you were called into peace,–let us live in one fellowship, and let us be thankful.
How can we be intentional about seeking “the things above?” Colossians 3:16 describes three actions we are to put on:
- Turn away from evil
- Put on the Lord Jesus Christ
- Experience the presence of God in worship.
We have an obligation to encourage one another in the Christian walk. We are to commit the entirely of our lives lived out in this present evil age unto the Lord, doing everything in His name.
You and I have made promises. May God in His mercy and by His power enable us to live up to the promises we have made to be and live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The preceding was adapted by Rachel Motte from a sermon Dr. Sloan delivered at Tallowood Baptist Church on March 11, 1990.