Colossians 3:12-15 (New Living Translation)
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.
That sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? The apostle Paul wrote today’s verses to the church in the city of Colosse, reminding them to be merciful, kind, humble, gentle, compassionate, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, and grateful. That sounds like the kind of community I love to be involved in — how about you? And that’s exactly the community we’re called to be as Christ-followers: thoroughly Christlike in thought, word, and action. But, of course, as we looked at yesterday, it takes time for us to grow more and more in similarity to the Savior we serve. It doesn’t happen all at once, but it is a goal worth pursuing!
So… how do we increasingly grow to be like this? How do we — as individuals and as communities — become more merciful, kind, humble, gentle, compassionate, patient, forgiving, loving, peaceful, and grateful?
One very helpful bit of advice comes from an earlier letter that Paul wrote to another church: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
Please know that fixing our thoughts on these positive things does not mean that we are to ignore the difficulty, pain, and suffering in the world around us, or to pretend that our lives are ideal, squeaky-clean, and perfect.
But… if our focus is constantly on what is broken in our world and in our lives, it’s remarkably easy to be sucked down into the abyss of hopelessness, loneliness, and despair.
And that is not God’s will for our lives.
When we remember to lift our hearts to the beauty around us, when we give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives, when we hold as our focus the promise of God’s never-ending love — that is when we are free to grow in mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, compassion, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, and gratitude.
Which of those qualities is the biggest struggle for you right now? Does the focus of your thoughts generally tend to be more positive or negative?