HOW MANY TIMES?
Read: Colossians 3:5-14
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander,and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV Colossians 3:5-14)
Study: In these verses, the apostle Paul pictured a set of attitudes and behaviors that are woven together into a distinctive way of life. Forgiveness cannot and does not exist by itself—it requires a willingness to live beyond malice, and to bring large amounts of honesty, compassion, humility and above all love to bear on our conflicts and hurts. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote: “Supposing there was a town in which everybody behaved in the way described in verses 5–9. And supposing, a few miles down the road, there was a town where everybody behaved in the way described in verses 12–17. Which town would you rather live in?” Jesus offers all of us the opportunity, beginning here and now, to live forever a life characterized by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. As you live more and more into the kingdom life God has called you to, in what ways are you experiencing freedom to be like Christ as you “put on the new nature”?
Prayer: Lord God, I choose the qualities you offer to grow in me to be the template, the pattern, of how I live. But I’m a work in progress. As I relate to others who are also “works in progress,” help me to extend the love and forgiveness you give me to them. Amen.