Colossians 3: 12 – 14

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

We can keep this simple today. Earlier in the week we saw what Paul said we should not do as children of the King. We are being called to put off the old dead self and to take up the garment of a new life in Christ Jesus. That new life, well, it looks like this. We are going to loop back around to this idea next week, but I think it is obvious. Don’t tell me you are a Christian. Just pretend I am from Missouri, the “Show me” state. Show me.

These are the characteristics or behavior traits of a child of God. Do we show and act out of a heart of compassion? Are we kind? Where is humility in our words and actions? Am I gentle? Patient? Can I show tolerance to another and forgive anyone? It all boils down to love. If we are not those who act in accordance with and motivated by love, then we ought not be so bold in declaring ourselves Christians because this is how Christians behave. Unity isn’t just a cool idea. It is a mandate. We do not have a choice. But then, unity is simply a byproduct of love. If love is our motivator, then all of the traits in today’s verses are ours and increasing.

Require this of others. Require it of the church! Without love, we are not the beautiful church. Without laying down the old man and picking up the new life in Christ, we cannot follow in Christ’s footsteps. It is time we looked to ourselves and strengthened ourselves as a body in Christ. This is the path that Paul laid out for us. This is the way.

Rid Yourself

Colossians 3: 8

But now you also, rid yourselves of all of them: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene speech from your mouth.

This is key language, certainly. I have been thinking quite a lot lately about what our faith requires of us. If I call myself a Christian, is there more to it than my salvation? I mean, that is what the Father and Jesus did for me. They saved me from an eternity of damnation and torture. I accepted their free gift and Jesus’ lordship. That allows me to call myself a Christian. But then, if I have submitted myself to the lordship of Jesus, what does that mean? Is there more to the Christian ethos and life than simply that I have my ticket to heaven?

Clearly Paul used this letter to the Colossians to teach them how they should behave. There is more to his lesson than just this verse, but this is very important portion. These are the characteristics which are repugnant to the Christian lifestyle and should be alien to our hearts. Were I you, I would look up these words and understand the fullness of them. That is exactly what I did. Definitely think about each of them. Take time to ponder them one at a time.

This isn’t only a self-check; it is also a lesson. As we mediate on these words, we should begin to build a paradigm about the Christian lifestyle. A picture should begin to form in our minds of what it means to be a Christian, not only for ourselves but for the church at large. Who are we? What are we meant to be? How should the church be clothed? How do we present ourselves to the world? Though none of us are perfect, any expression of any of these five behaviors ought to be the rare exception. We have a responsibility to build the church according to the principles that Jesus laid out for us. So, this isn’t just about you and me. It is about the expectation we communicate to the church. It is about us as leaders requiring those who profess to be children of God to uphold certain values. It is about our leadership molding the church in this image.

We must be individually and collectively transformed into the image of God’s dear son. That transformation is our responsibility. We don’t overcome worldly behavior though an act of our will power but rather by the surrender to the love of Christ. The more time we spend in the company of Jesus, the more distasteful anger, wrath, etc. become to us. Let the church shine in Jesus’ glory, putting aside these worldly expressions and behaviors.

Spiritual Fruit

Galatians 5: 22 – 23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

You are going to encounter a lot of different kinds of people in a lifetime. Some, frankly, mean you ill will. Here is the surprise though. They will usually come dressed as one of the flock, hence the saying a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. That is the only way they can get close enough to you to do you any harm. If they looked like someone that has bad intent on their minds, you would stay far from them. So, they come camouflaged. But fear not. You can tell who they are rather simply and easily. Check their fruit. Do they exhibit the above characteristics? It is not what people say that matters. Remember that Satan quoted the Bible to Jesus in order to trick him. It is not their good works or status in a church. The Spirit of God alive in a person reveals himself through them by the above traits. If they are not kind and gentle; if they show a lack of self-control, then you will know that they may not be who they profess to be.

Look, we are all trying to become the people that God has created us to be and most of us are far from perfect, but Jesus said in these last days there would come false prophets. He said that we would know them by their fruit (Matthew 7: 15 -16). Now by this we not only learn how to discern God’s Spirit in prophets, but also in everyday people. Let us not be unwise but rather protected by the Spirit of the Lord through heavenly wisdom given to us by the Lord himself. Look at people’s fruit, not their words or activities, before you follow them or take their advice.