Colossians 3: 8

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

This is a good word and a good reminder. When we sin, it is often with our mouths. I know I need hear these verses routinely to keep me reminded to watch my mouth. I did an entire series on this one little verse once. It is packed with meaning and when you unpack it, you find these are very powerful words. I am sure that Paul did not choose them lightly.

When you read verse 15 you find that we are supposed to “Let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts.” All of the words above stand in contrast to the Shalom of God. Remember, when a Jewish writer, as was Paul, writes about peace they are not speaking only about tranquility. It means wholeness, unbrokenness. You cannot live in peace while giving vent to anger or wrath. Abusive speech is never to exit our mouths, nor slander.

It is easy to read this verse and say, “Yes, I know I should watch this.” It is quite another to unpack this and think about what each of the words means and what Paul is asking us to do. Remember, he was confronted with a new body of believers which included Jews and Gentiles. You know there was much tension. Those tensions show up in the Bible and you can bet it was much worse than portrayed there. People who may not have even spoken to one another before were all of a sudden expected to live harmoniously. Their lifestyles were completely different as were their values. Of course there were disagreements. Paul had to teach them that even in their differences, they were to show each other respect.

The Jews have a principle known as loshon hora. In its simplest form it means not to make any derogatory comment about anyone, even if it is true. So while there were disagreements, the Jews had to learn how to respectfully confront those conflicts. Further, it means we are not supposed to disparage anyone even if what we say is true. Is that a challenge? Everyone has someone in their life who is a nutter but this means you can’t even call them a goof to someone else because it would tend to damage their reputation. Even if it’s true!

All forms of violent, abusive, disparaging, insulting speech are prohibited by this passage. Anger, get a grip on it. If you’re like me, you need more prayer time. Definitely, if we are going to control our tongues, we are going to need more prayer time. You can’t do this on your own. You need help. That person is going to dig right under your skin, so get help. Call 1-800-GOD-HELP and put anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech on the altar.

Who’s in Charge Here?

Colossians 3: 15      Amplified

Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

This is good advice, isn’t it? You may sometimes hear, “Let peace guide you.” In this verse, Paul teaches us that peace should be the controlling or ruling principle in all our ways and decisions. That certainly has implications for personal decisions when we don’t have that calm assurance inside. Clearly, we want to stay away from those choices. God often guides us by peace so we have learned that if we don’t feel peace about something, we best leave it alone.

The real substance of this verse, though, is about our interrelations with others. Paul says to let peace guide your thoughts and decisions as it relates to other people. When you have a decision to make which affects others, as most decisions do, you should not only consider but give first priority to the decision which promotes peace among you. Perhaps that is not the choice you would select but that is why Paul felt it necessary to teach this. As much as it depends on you, stay in peace with everyone (Romans 12: 18). There are times when there is a cost to you for peace, but the long-term benefit outweighs the short-term desire or inconvenience. Besides, it is what God has told us to do. Isn’t that reason enough?

There is another way to apply this verse. Paul points out that all believers are part of one body. God didn’t call us into service as just a hand or just a toe but rather as one body all working in harmony to His service. That necessarily means that He didn’t call us into a body of Baptists, or a body of Methodists, or any other denomination you can name. In truth, He hasn’t separated us even into Catholics and protestants. And for the real kicker, Jesus is Jewish, so we are of one body with Messianic Jews. There you are! What a family! One body made of such different parts yet called and commanded to work together for the accomplishment of the master’s purposes.

Jesus is the head and we all parts of his body. Since when did the pinky finger start telling the feet where to go? That just ends in chaos and chaos is what we have been experiencing in the church, but we are coming to the end of all things and our Father, He who is Father to every one of us, has called us into unity. You don’t have to agree with me all the time nor do you have to agree with anyone 100% of the time. We do, however, have to work together in the unity of peace in Christ and if we truly are in Christ then we are members of his peace too which he left here specifically for our use.

Jesus doesn’t really care if you don’t agree with the doctrine of that church down the block. He didn’t tell us that we must agree all the time, but he did command us to live and work together harmoniously. He requires our decisions to consider what will preserve and even increase the peace amongst us all. There is one thing upon which we all agree: Jesus is Lord. And that is enough. One church, one body, in Christ.