Colossians 3:12 "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 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. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
Such a beautiful practical letter. Let's review a little:
Problems in Colossae and Laodicea cause Epaphras to write to Paul looking for answers. Paul's response to the churches in the form of this letter is that they are complete in Jesus. Those who have come in among them with persuasive words telling them they need more than Jesus in the form of religious customs etc... are liars.
He reaffirms that in Jesus they are complete and perfect. He explains that rules and strictness and self imposed religious practices have an appearance of wisdom and holiness but are completely powerless to change our hearts.
In chapter three he offers the real solution. He says now that Jesus has done it all for us focus your heart and mind on Him and the things of heaven. Don't look into the darkness of our human brokenness but into the light of His love and sacrifice for us.
Then Paul lists the issues we really have which are far more significant than what we eat or drink or the religious customs we keep. Issues of the heart like sexual immorality and greed and lusts and anger and malice etc... these are the things that Jesus will fix as we day by day meditate on Him and follow His lead in our lives.
Then we come to today's passage. It's the flip side of yesterday. Notice carefully the setting: Therefore - because - you are God's special child, holy and beloved put on tender mercies, kindness, humility etc... Notice carefully that adopting these attributes which are the attributes of Jesus will not make you more loved or more saved or even more holy. In Jesus you are already as holy as is possible because as we have read already in Jesus we died and rose and our life is now hidden in Him.
Now notice carefully how His attributes will more and more become our attributes as we set our hearts and minds on things above. When we focus our thoughts on Jesus instead of the darkness and pain and injustices of this world we begin to absorb how forgiving He truly is. His love literally begins to deeply impact our very thoughts. As we spend time morning and evening discovering Him through His Word, Scripture becomes part of our thought processes. As we learn songs that tell His story and we play them in the car and in our homes and hum them while we work our interactions and reactions toward others are affected. How can I withhold forgiveness from my friend, my coworker, my wife when Jesus has washed all my sins away by a sacrifice I will never fully comprehend? How can I be less than merciful when so much mercy has been poured out on me? How can I think less of anyone when My Father is their Father too? How can I not love everyone always when Jesus died for me before I even cared? When He loved me when I was far from Him?
Sing about it, think about it, read about it, find a church family that talks and teaches about it. When others who believe start drifting remind them, not of their dark behaviour but of Him. When you drift they will remind you. When we meet we will remind each other and when people come into our churches or our lives trying to preach a convincing message that we need just a little more than Jesus we will be well filled with Truth and there will be no room for such nonsense.
As Jesus said so succinctly: "You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free and you will be free indeed!"
Religion is powerless bondage but Jesus is our soul freeing Saviour.