Colossians 3:12 – 17
12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This is another of those beautiful passages I love from Paul’s writing. Years ago, when I was in seminary, we had a class that was a retreat, with Steve Harper. We went to a retreat center in a wooded area (just off a major highway in Orlando, but felt like far out in the woods); during this retreat, we gathered at a chapel with windows out to the forest. And, as we sat, Steve played a recording by John Michael Talbot – a monk (a peculiar sort of monk – he is married), who often sings scripture. It began, “Because you are chosen, called to be holy, because you are the Lord’s beloved”. I had never thought of myself as the Lord’s beloved, but suddenly I realized this was true. My friends, we are all God’s beloved, chosen to be a part of his kingdom.
But in response to God’s love for us, we should wear kindness, humility, meekness and patience, like a garment, obvious to those around us. We should bear with one another – another way of saying patience, and forgive one another – just as the Lord has forgiven us. There is no space for feuding and dissension among God’s children! And the girdle, which holds all of these garments together, is love! If we love one another, we can, and will, live in harmony with one another.
And then – let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts – that only happens when our hearts and minds, our entire being, is centered in Christ! We were called to this peace, into a body – a church. And even as Christ’s peace dwells in our hearts, we should let Christ’s word dwell in us, and we should teach one another, and admonish one another, growing in wisdom. And in addition to hearts filled with Christ’s peace, and study and growth in the word, we should be grateful people. And our gratitude should shine through as we sing, whatever hymns or praise songs we love to sing – but we sing to God of our gratitude.
And finally, whatever we do, whether it is what we say or how we act or what we undertake to do, it should be done in the name of the Lord. And it should give thanks to the Father.