My ten-year-old loves books. One of his greatest delights is to browse the online library catalogue and select books for the hold shelf. One afternoon at the library, he and I waited to get our temperature checked and sanitize our hands when my son’s eagerness attracted a reprimand. “Six feet! Two meters! I need two meters!” Startled, my head swiveled back to the sound as I realized my son had stepped away from me and was encroaching on the space of a patron ahead of us.
My son, completely unaware he was being corrected, danced a little happy shuffle; my arm snaked out and guided him back into our circle of waiting. I felt horrible! I also felt defensive. I whispered an apology, we gathered our books and left. I used the opportunity of the drive home to remind myself and my son of the opportunity we have as believers to display the character of Jesus to everyone around us, whether at home, church, or the community.
Maybe you’ve experienced a similar situation. Somehow you find yourself in a conversation about politics, masks, identity, and social bubbles that suddenly seem to have taken a wrong turn and ugly emotions spring out of the depth of your heart that might take you by surprise. Or other times, shame or fear creep in and twist icy hands around your heart and tongue leaving you paralyzed in the face of opportunity.
Colossians 3:12-17 offers us three questions for consideration to guide us towards godly communication.
How can my communication display godly character?
In chapters one and two, Paul reminds the church in Colossae about arguments and false teachings attempting to erode their faith. He grounds them in the deity and authority of Christ their Savior and in chapter three he reminds them of their position in Christ and how that should inform their actions and attitudes.
Verses 1-3 remind them their life is no longer their own, but they have died to sin and have new, eternal, imperishable life in Christ. This secure promise, rooted in the supreme deity of Christ, enables believers to confidently shift their hearts from the fallen world and set them above where Christ, their life, awaits them.
Paul urges them to take one step further; yes, they have union and life in Christ, but they need to actively move in the power of the Spirit and put to death the earthly nature. He reminds them they used to be slaves to sin, but no longer! Sin has no power over them, and they have been renewed and granted freedom in Christ.
The new man has a high calling and it is rooted in Christ. These were precious reminders! Believers then and today are loved, chosen before the foundation of the earth, and made holy through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. They are free to live in Christ and not as slaves to sin. What does it look like to live in Christ?
We are to love like Christ: with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Compassion means I listen with concern and understanding rather than formulating my next response. Kindness means my tone is soft and considerate and that my body language communicates friendliness. Humility means I do not insist on the last word when I disagree with someone. Gentleness means I ask kind and clarifying questions with respect for differing perspectives. We are to bear with one another.
The believer adopts a heart and mind that endures the strains of natural relationships because she remembers the weight of her sin that Christ bore at the cross and the forgiveness she received from his selfless act. She loves with the love God first showed her.
With whom is God calling you to extend gentleness, kindness, or forgiveness? Is there time in your schedule to come alongside a fellow believer and bear a burden? Is your life marked by selfishness or sacrifice?
How is my communication ruled by the peace of Christ?
Paul goes on to commend the believers to be ruled by the peace of Christ because they are one in Christ and called to peace. This peace is unique; it is not worldly-it is supernatural. It is peace with God, and it frees us from worry, hostility, fear of man or the future, and our fleshly desires. With Christ as our righteousness and a redeemed relationship with God, we already have everything we need to live as the holy, beloved, and chosen children that we are.
Our biggest problems, sin and death, have been defeated. We are no longer slaves but free to love and worship our Savior, trusting he will provide for all our needs and concerns.
How can you use your communication to pursue peace when discord and differences arise? How would you articulate the reason for the hope (and peace) that is yours in Christ?
How are my words and actions communicating worship?
We are living in challenging times. I, like you, seem to be asked daily how things are going, how is our family coping with the depth and magnitude of changes in a Covid-19 world?
My flesh wants to default to list the legitimate challenges and decisions we’re navigating. I want to bemoan the loss of my perceived rights and privileges, or I want to “vent” (read that complain) about the latest inconvenience. That does not have to be, nor should it be, the default. Because of the love and peace of God that is the believer’s through Christ, our words and actions can trumpet thanksgiving and worship.
Thankfulness because we have the rich gift of peace with God. Worship because the message of Christ dwells in us and we are stirred to grateful hearts and gospel proclamation.
Are you eager to give thanks for eager to complain? In what way is God asking you to surrender your rights, anxiety, or complaining and turn to commit to trusting His goodness?
We can be like the woman in Proverbs 31 who laughs at the days to come. God’s word provides us wisdom, His Son has already secured our future, so we will worship and fear the Lord alone through our words and deeds.