“It is most significant to note that every one of the graces listed has to do with personal relationships between man and man. There is no mention of virtues like efficiency or cleverness, not even of diligence or industry – not that these things are unimportant. But the great basic Christian virtues are those which govern human relationships.” (Barclay)
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond. Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12
For some reason, I have struggled with this post. So many thoughts have run thru my head --I 've attempted to put them down in words as I've read and re-read this passage of scripture. Words I've read before, words I know to be true.... yet, somehow, I struggled to write out what I was thinking or feeling.
This morning as I sat in our worship service, I think I realized why. Our pastor preached on mercy and he made a statement that I think hit the "nail on the head", so to speak. He stated that mercy goes against our human nature. We have a much greater tendency to pass judgement, to feel that someone deserves to be punished for their actions... instead of loving them thru their situation. As humans we think, "What sort of chaos will we create if we simply love instead of dish out 'what they deserve'?"
Honestly, I think that is part of why I have struggled with this. While I want to live a life that shows each of these behaviors that Paul lists in this passage -- mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness - it is difficult because so many times it goes against my human nature.
As a society, we tend to recognize people for other types of behaviors... hard-working, talented, resourceful, etc. And, while those are all very good, they are not the specific behaviors that we find the Lord expects of each one of us in the way we treat each other.
I came upon the above quote as I was studying on this passage this last week. How true! How many times do we talk about the importance of our relationship with God? We point out over and over that the greatest thing isn't how often we show up at church or church-related activities, but the greatest thing is the RELATIONSHIP we have with God. Don't you think it should be the same with the people in our lives? It is all about RELATIONSHIP. The very behaviors God expects of us in our relationships with others, are the very same behaviors He demonstrates to us over and over and over again.
Think about this (an excerpt from Enduring Word):
~ God holds back His anger a very long time when we sin against Him. He bears with us a long time, even when we sorely provoke Him.
~ God makes the first move towards us in forgiveness; the habit of men is to only be reconciled if the offending party craves forgiveness and makes the first move.
~God forgives often knowing that we will sin again, sometimes in the exact same way. It is the habit of men to forgive only if the offending party solemnly promises to never do the wrong again.
~God’s forgiveness is so complete and glorious that He grants adoption to those former offenders. In the habit of man, even when forgiveness is offered, he will not lift again the former offender to a place of high status and partnership.
~God keeps reaching out to man for reconciliation even when man refuses Him again and again. In the habit of men, one will not continue to offer reconciliation if it is rejected once.