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.


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.