This is post #9 of a 16-session blog series entitled The Christ Collection: Putting on the Likeness of Jesus. Each and every day, you and I, as Christ followers, can pull out a few of these beauties and slip into something comfortable. Hand-crafted masterpieces made for this world, so when we wear them, we can go out on Christ’s behalf, shining brightly like the Son. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3: 12-14 (NKJ)
Have you ever spent much time at a Complaint Department?
Yowsers! What a difficult job it must be to stand there all day, looking down the line-up of people, all waiting for their turn to air their complaints, state their offenses, and spout off about an assortment of dirty laundry, all of which is stated with the assumption that you are there to make it right!
Take a number. Next.
If you’ve ever spent much time in church, you know that while there is no official Complaint Department, it doesn’t take much to get people talking about all the things they don’t like about the church, the leaders, the folks that attend, and, don’t forget, the color of the new carpet in the Sunday School rooms.
As I see it, many of Paul’s letters we now call portions of the New Testament were written to help complaining church folks get along with one another, forgiving their offenses so they can focus on what’s really important…the work of Christ going on inside each of their lives.
The Greek word for forgiveness, the one Paul uses here in his letter to his friends in Colossae, means to show favor, extend mercy, or to give grace freely, not based on any merit or worth. In other words, New Testament forgiveness means to be gracious, merciful and kind to all persons, even when some don’t deserve it!
You see, it’s much easier for me to be forgiving toward a person, extending favor, kindness, and grace after that person has extended a graciousness toward me. But, heaven forbid, might Jesus really want me to be gracious and forgiving, offering up a prime parking spot to the idiot who just flipped me the finger as we were both pulling into the church parking lot?
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus addresses this type of question and how we, as Christ-followers, are called to become pro-active agents of grace and forgiveness to any and all, churched and unchurched, all for the greater glory of God.
Now, I must warn you here. These are not easy words. Certainly not phrases we’d choose to print on refrigerator magnets or hang on our bathroom mirror.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 38-48 (NIV)
You see, when it comes to forgiveness of our own selfishness and sin, you and I have won the lottery. In Christ, every aspect of my fallen self, every kit-n-kaboodle of my goofiness, my sinfulness, my sloth, and pride has been erased from the memory of God.
But, as Jesus states in Luke 12: verse 48a (NIV):
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
So, here’s the deal.
It’s very easy to take the Garment of Forgiveness and slip it on over our sin-sick body, allowing it to cover our shame and woundedness. But as Paul states here in his letter to the Colossians, and elsewhere (see Ephesians 4: 32, for example)…
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)
My Prayer: Jesus, it’s so much easier in my flesh to see the offenses committed by others, make quick judgements, hold grudges, and simply never let go, forgive, and let God. In truth, it’s that way of life that keeps me imprisoned, while living a life of forgiveness truly sets me free. With Your help, Holy Spirit, I slip on the Garment of Forgiveness, allowing grace, mercy, and kindness to flow into, and then, out of me. For Your glory and for Your name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Thoughts to Ponder: In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus commands us to ask God to…
Forgive us our transgressions, trespasses, sins, or debts…
As (or to the same degree, or at the same rate) we forgive others.
How might this truth better motivate us to become much more gracious, merciful, forgiving people, ones who are known well for wearing our Garments of Forgiveness?
So, what are you experiencing as we ponder upon Colossian’s Christ Collection?
We hope you’ll enjoy these 16 blogs that focus on the amazing garments and accessories God has hand-crafted for us so that as we wear them, we can better reflect the nature and likeness of Jesus of Nazareth. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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