Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Colossians 3:12-15 – 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
One principle of Scripture interpretation that I have heard is that whenever there is a ‘Therefore’, we must understand the previous thought. This section is no different and it’s even more imperative that we understand what was said previously. If not, we basically have a charge to love, be patient, forgive, etc.---without the clarity of conversion from the previous verses, which basically leaves it up to willpower to live this way. I don’t know about you, but left to my own, this kind of behavior is highly unlikely!
So, spend a few minutes reading from Colossians 2:6-3:15 to gain a context.
To me, Colossians 2:11-15, 20 give us the potential to truly live this way!
I have always been a huge sports fan and I love to see the team dynamics at work, especially when there is synergy. One of the greatest examples of ‘team’ that I can recall is the run the New England Patriots made a decade ago. They won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and truly embodied the idea of team. The first of these 3 Super Bowls followed the 2001 season and there were very few superstars, or highly marketable players on the roster. It was before Tom Brady was recognized as one of the best quarterbacks ever and before Bill Belichick was seen as a brilliant head coach.
The one thing that Belichick has learned to do is find the right guy to fit the system and to play their role. You rarely hear of a Patriot player (until Aaron Hernandez) that gets in trouble, boasts on the field, or puts himself ahead of the team. These players, regardless of talent level, rarely last on a team coached by Belichick, because they want to be the focus. Each player on the roster truly buys into the idea that the team is more important than the individual and each player understands their role and attempts to execute that to perfection. They believe the coach’s plan is better than their own desires.
This is the same way God calls us to approach forgiveness & judgment---we must know our role! It becomes so easy to attempt to assume the judge role and as Delton illustrated Sunday, build our case of evidence & charges and then attempt to execute judgment on the criminal that has wronged us. For the Christian, as Colossians 3:3 states, ‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.’ This includes giving up control of the judge role and handing it over to the true Judge. It’s challenging to relinquish this position, because we are afraid that if we don’t bring vengeance, no one will! We must step by faith and trust that we are incapable of fulfilling this job---we are called to understand our role on the team and bringing judgment is not what our Head Coach wants us to do! As the Patriots players have demonstrated, we are called to submit to our Head Coach.
Once we can see Col. 3:12-15 in the context of dying to our self and allowing Christ to reign in us through His Spirit, then we can have compassion, kindness, and humility---now we can bear with each other, forgive each other, and love those around us. Finally, when we truly know who we are in Christ and who He is in the realm of judgment, we can lay down our evidence files and gavels and His peace will rule in our hearts.
Church, our call is to esteem forgiveness, to lift up the body of Christ over ourselves, and to trust the God is the Righteous Judge!
Why is it so hard to give up the role of judge? How has attempting to be judge worked for you? Do you see God as faithful in executing judgment? How can you take steps of faith to live in your role on the team? I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.