THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
PUTTING ON CHRIST
Today’s reading: Colossians 3:12-21
We Christians are “God’s chosen ones” (v.12b)
and we “were also called in one body” (v.15b),
which is the body of Christ on earth. The body of Christ is
the whole Church and also our individual communities. We are
called to be in one body to live His life and to do His work.
As such, given the privilege, we have the responsibility to
act in certain specific ways. As God’s chosen ones,
we are to be “holy and beloved” (v.12c). As members
of the body of Christ, we are to manifest the virtue of holiness
and the posture of being beloved one to the other. These are
necessary so that we reflect Christ and so that we can effectively
serve him in unity as one body.
are to “put on then” (v.12a) certain virtues and
attitudes. We are to be clothed in them. When people see us
or interact with us, they notice the clothes we wear. Our
clothes, in modern consumer parlance, define us. What we wear
reflects our personality and character. So what is inside
manifests itself outside. What are the aspects of this clothing,
of being holy and beloved (v.12)?
“heartfelt compassion” -- we grieve with those
of our brethren who grieve; we accord them mercy in our
dealings; we forgive the wrong done to us.
-- we are positive and encouraging in our relationships;
we look kindly on others; we see the good that is in each
-- we look to others as more important than ourselves; we
are never boastful; we serve without recognition or reward.
“gentleness” -- we are solicitous; we are not
overly aggressive; we do not assault our brethren.
-- we endure difficulties and testings; we are meek; we
trust in the Lord’s action in our lives and the lives
Now among brethren in community there will always be differences--personality,
preferences, directions, ways we relate, ways to serve. At
times these can lead to disagreements which can then lead
to conflict and division. Thus, aside from being very aware
of these negative aspects, we need to add certain attitudes
to our clothing. Note that these attitudes grow in stages
with increasing intensity.
“bearing with one another” (v.13a). Have patience,
tolerance, forbearance. Put up with the shortcoming of others.
“forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against
another” (v.13b). We do not just bear with one another,
but we forgive each other. Others may do us wrong. We do
not just passively bear with it, but we actively forgive.
We do not just quietly bear the wrong, but we wipe the slate
the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.” (v.13c).
We do not just forgive, but we forgive the way Jesus forgave
us. We did Jesus grievous wrong as we sent him to the cross
because of our sins, but he forgave us. Now he tells us
to forgive others. Given that what we consider grievous
wrong against us would just be petty compared to what we
did to God Himself, then we too should forgive, in the example
of Jesus himself.
over all these put on love” (v.14a). We do not just
forgive as Jesus forgave us, but we love as Jesus tells
us to love one another. Some may forgive but still hold
negative feelings. Some may forgive but feel they just had
no choice because God conditions His forgiveness of them
on their forgiveness of others. So we not only let go
as we forgive, but we put on as we love.
is, the bond of perfection.” (v.14b). We not only
love with imperfect human love, but we love as God loves,
as we strive to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.
We know that God actually calls us to perfection. Now it will
be precisely in the body, as we live together and serve together,
that we will be tried and tested and purified. It will be
as we relate in the body that we cannot just give our assent
to teachings on love and forgiveness, but will be confronted
with the necessity of actually living these out. When we do
strive to live these out, there will be great positive consequences
“And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.”
(v.15a). Whatever happens, however others treat us, we will
be at peace, knowing that we are doing God’s will.
“And be thankful.” (v.15b). We become focused
on positives rather than negatives, on blessings rather
than woes. We look to what God does for us rather than what
we have to endure from His other children. Being grateful
can keep us mentally and emotionally healthy and happy always.
in Biblical wisdom! “Let the word of Christ dwell
in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one
another” (v.16a). Facing difficult situations with
our brethren, we look not to human wisdom but to God’s
wisdom. What do I say; how do I act; how do I relate? We
search the scriptures. We allow God’s word to form
us. We are challenged by God’s radical word on mercy
“singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude
in your hearts to God.” (v.16b). Our thanksgiving
and Biblical wisdom lead us to deeper worship. Putting on
the heart and mind of God deeply affects us in our words,
thoughts and deeds. We grow into spiritual offerings to
God. Nothing else matters, but for creatures to worship
their Creator, for subjects to adore their King, for disciples
to give praise to their Lord and God.
Reaching this point, we are where God wants us. He has allowed
difficulties and challenges to happen in our human relationships,
especially among brethren, The body has become the training
ground, and the altar of purification. What we learn from
the scriptures has been put to the test. Since we are children
of God, we were put into the body of Christ. Conversely, but
equally true, we have been put into the body of Christ in
order that we might truly live as children of God.
final result? We live only for God. “And whatever you
do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord
Jesus” (v.17a). We belong totally to God. We seek to
please only God (and in so doing please others as well). We
seek to be humble servants serving only the Master.
of these are grudging acts. We truly are at peace. We truly
sing for joy. We truly have put on Christ. Therefore, we actually
can think of no other posture but that of always “giving
thanks to God the Father through him.” (v.17b).