12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.
Perhaps people are critical of Christians when we are seen as preaching or talking about how others’ need to change without addressing our own imperfections. Whenever I catch myself being critical of others – either judging or negatively thinking of others’ ways – I want to return to this passage. We cannot be critical of others when we cannot always live according to the standards that St. Paul describes here in Colossians 3.
Reading Paul’s words reminds me of the unbelievable ways that we are called to live out our days as believers. What Paul is describing sounds almost utopian, a world in which love is the gold standard and we live always with thankfulness in our hearts. Surely it will never be easy to always “forgive one another; as the Lord has forgiven you” or to always “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” It is so much easier to talk about this plan than to truly live life this way.
When Paul says, “over all these things, put on love,” I know I am not there yet. Just when I think I am being the best Christian I can be, I am reminded that I sometimes bark orders at my family, or roll my eyes at situations or yell because of someone else’s crazy driving. Think about it. Can you truly say that you always respond with love? Can any of us say that we always live with thanksgiving in our hearts?
We may try, but as humans, it is not always possible to get this right. Instead we are humbled by the truth. But before we let ourselves off the hook, we are reminded that a life lived by love is the standard of Jesus Christ. He is our gold standard. We may think it utopian, but Jesus’ way is always the path lived through peace and love. So as we remain humbled by Christ’s example, we strive to quietly live in his way.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Paul’s words describe a world in which we lead with love and live in constant thanksgiving for all that life has to offer. To be humbled by the truth of Christ’s life means that we continue to strive toward love as our response to all of God’s children.
Can you recall a time that you responded to someone in a way that did not honor Jesus’ example? Can you imagine a world ruled only by love and peace? Can you imagine your days filled only by thanksgiving for all that this life has to offer?
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we are humbled by the truth of your life. Help us to follow in your footsteps and to live life grounded in your ways of love and peace. Help us to quietly live by your example with humility and joy. Help us to live by striving toward love and thanksgiving in all that we do. Amen.