“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 also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:12-17 NASB).
Colossians 3:12-17 is a message that is meant to empower the believer to live a holy and godly life. This passage first reminds us of who we are in Christ. Then Paul tells us what character traits believers should have. And lastly, we are told how we should prioritize our lives. When we know who we are, we are more able to act according to our true nature; and our lives reflect the nature of God in our interactions with others. Knowing who we are in Christ is the first step.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” (1 Peter 2:9). God has chosen us, we did not choose him. The Lord has declared us to be righteous based on the righteousness that we have in Jesus Christ. God has called us to be separate from the world; and we are special to our Father. As the chosen of God, we are to walk in light and not adopt the ways of darkness. Knowing or remembering who we are gives us the strength to conduct ourselves as the children of God.
God’s children are to be kind, humble, gentle, patient and forgiving. All of these character traits are reflections of the character and personality of God. God is gracious and forgiving, and his children should seek to imitate him. “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1 NKJV). All of these character traits are energized and exercised because of grace. We are kind and forgiving to others not because they deserve it. Our love for others comes because we vigorously strive to show grace to our neighbors because we have received grace from God. Therefore, our conduct is not based on what others have done, it is based on our love for God and our desire to be like him. What does Paul tell us to do in order to act as children of God?
We are to allow God’s peace to have preeminence in our lives. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Our ability to show love, stay humble, and be forgiving is directly proportioned to our level of peace. God has given us peace, but we must receive it by faith. We do not have to ask God to give us peace, we must understand that we already have it. Our responsibility is to allow God’s peace to flow from within us and saturate our minds. When we are at peace, we are then able manifest other godly character traits such as kindness, patience, humility, and love. Along with receiving God’s peace, Paul tells us to do something else.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Paul tells us to give ourselves over to God’s word. Christians must read, study, and meditate on God’s word every day. God’s word is alive, and it will transform us and make us more like our Father. And from the overflow of God’s word, we begin to minister to one another on an intimate and spiritual level. Our actions should also reflect our love for God.
Paul tells us to do everything for the glory of God. Pride, unethical financial gain, or any other negative motivation should not be the reason for anything that we do. As God’s chosen, all that we say or do should be done to bring glory to God. Our actions and our words should reflect our heavenly citizenship and our role as ambassadors for Christ.
This message is about empowerment. God’s children should radiate the goodness of God. The grace that God has shown us should be expressed to others. And the Christian’s lifestyle should exemplify the grace and goodness of God. The first step is to remember who we are. When we remember who we are, we are empowered to live as what we are.