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Monday, September 24, 2007

Colossians, Chapter 3

On the surface the third chapter of Colossians appears to simply be a repeat of some of the topics we discussed earlier in our journey of eating potato chips with God. When I first re-read this I was thinking that God was merely repeating the same thing and that Paul had made a mistake by writing the same letter to the Colossians as he did the Philippians and such. As I went through the guided questions in my study Bible though, I saw that God does not make mistakes. If it's in the Bible a second third, or fourth times it's probably because it is something rather important we need to pick up on. Since chapter three begins with rules for Holy living I would say that those are pretty important.

"5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Colossians 3:5-10

This is a given and has been clearly stated before, but how do we avoid the trap of simply saying, "easier said than done," and glossing over the parts that we do not want to fix? That is part of our sinful nature in itself, because it is our selfishness and even lack of faith coming through when we quit trying give something up. It takes the work of God in our hearts to truly get through these things. It is stronger than we in our own capacity can resist, but Christ's nature in our hearts can overcome it. One thing I must learn is that this nature takes time. I have already seen what the Nature and love of Christ in my heart can overcome when it comes to succumbing to earthly natures, but I also see that I still have a very long way to go.

"12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." – Colossians 3:12-14

Personally, this one kicked me in the teeth this morning. I know in my life I have long dealt with trying to forgive totally. At times it has been easy to forgive other, but not myself. Other times the exact opposite is true because I have been able to get over my own actions quickly, but the actions of others who wronged me have sat and smoldered on my heart. I am not going to take credit for the four steps that are listed in how to do deal with this, as they come from the study section of my Quest Study Bible, but they did come out as an example of how God's word speaks to you when you need it most.

First, forgiveness requires us to surrender our right to get even. Second, Forgiveness takes time. Third, Forgiving doesn't require forgetting. On this point it elaborates that it is nearly impossible to forget, but we must detoxify the memory so it does not poison our thoughts. Finally, forgiving is expected, because as it says in verse 13, we must forgive as we have been forgiven.

This was one of those personal moments where I felt God slapped me in the face with His word, because much of the bitterness I have felt in my heart lately comes from an inability to properly forgive. Some memories of things I have forgiven on the surface still simmer below and remain toxic in my heart. I recognize that I still need time to heal in many ways, whether that healing comes because of mistakes I have made, or mistakes others made in regard to me. While verse 13 asks us to forgive look at what verse 14 asks. It asks to put on love, which binds everything together. Forgiveness is love, but both are very difficult to learn. These are things that I fully admit Christ still needs to work in me.

TODAY'S QUESTIONS:

  1. Is it possible in this life to rid ourselves of all the things in verses five through nine?
  2. If it is not possible to do so, then why must we try?
  3. Why is overcoming our own nature even with the help of Christ one of the hardest things to do?

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