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Book of Colossians Bible Study - Part 12
by Norma Becker
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Part 12 - No Distinctions or Favourites
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11).
There should be no distinction racially between Gentiles and Jews, between religious denominations, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, (The Greeks thought anyone who did not follow the Greek culture was a barbarian.) slave or free.
The Christian church shouldn’t have any barriers of nationality, race, education level, social standing, wealth, gender, religion or power. Christ breaks down all barriers and accepts all people who come to Him. No one is more important in the eyes of God than the next person.
It is saying that ultimately, all of these distinctions are of no importance once we see that Christ is everything and that He dwells in each one of His people no matter of their race or background. This is not saying that we are equal intellectually, physically, economically or socially, but all who are in these different categories are equal spiritually. All have God’s Spirit in them - but again, also different levels of spiritual maturity.
The work in a church and the church offices should be open equally to the church janitor as it is to a president of a large corporation - if they both qualify spiritually.
In the last few verses, these vices were of the old self and were to be shed. Now, we are to clothe ourselves with virtues - our new self - again, the idea of not putting new clothes on over old ones. God’s standards don’t get any easier.
God’s Chosen People
Again, to back this up:
We are chosen and holy:
Notice, He chose us - all we had to do was respond to his choosing – He chose us while we were still sinners by choosing our own way.
Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness and Patience
Compassion is genuine concern for the feelings of others. We can comfort because we have been comforted. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Kindness is the desire for another’s good; care and consideration for others; being concerned with the happiness of others; having a sweet disposition.
Humility is not something to be proud of. It is a lowly attitude toward God. When we see God in the right way, we will see ourselves in the right way.
Gentleness is meekness, having a lowly attitude toward others; having consideration for the rights and feelings of others; willingness to make concessions. It is not a weakness but a Christian courtesy. Gentleness is the opposite of rebellion, arrogance, self-assertiveness or violence.
Patience is longsuffering, forbearance, steadfastness. It has the idea of bearing injury or insult with the refusal to retaliate – definitely in contrast to the natural reaction.
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Tolerance and Forgiveness
Can you think of people in your life where this is needed? Then forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else.
Tolerance and forgiveness go together. To tolerate, you hold back your temper - a natural reaction. To forgive, you don’t hold back love - an unnatural reaction.
We can do this by forgiving as the Lord forgave us - graciously and freely and totally. Only when we realize and accept how much God has forgiven us, can we can put wrongs done to us in perspective and freely love and forgive others.
Even a reasonable cause for our complaint does not justify a refusal to forgive. The Lord certainly had a just cause for complaint against us because of our rebellion yet He extended His forgiveness.
Grudges have no place in a Christian’s life for they may lead to the sins mentioned in verse 8-9.
Love and Perfect Unity
Paul is still talking of the list of virtues that a Christian is to “put on.” Love is the final garment that binds or holds all things together.
“Be under obligation to no one - the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law” (Romans 13:8 GNB).
The two greatest commandments are:
When you follow these two commandments, you fulfill all the commandments. Love leads to maturity and unity and removes all feelings of anger, hatred or unforgiveness. You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.
Peace of Go
Let’s look at some other places we are promised peace. Read Philippians 4:6-7:
Isaiah says about God:
Are you always at peace? With God, with yourself, with others? Why or why not?
God gives us an inward peace that provides calmness regardless of circumstances; contentment with what you have, even if it isn’t what you want; lack of worry; lack of fear. We can receive that peace through obedience and acceptance of that peace.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:
Also back in Colossians 1:12 it says for us to give thanks with joy to the Father.
We have to remember that these letters, and thus this advice or counsel, is for actions and reactions among fellow believers. Is there a difference in the way you respond to a non-believer? Does this response always work? What do you do when it doesn’t? What do you do when it doesn’t work with a believer?
Hope, Wisdom and Understanding
In verse 15 he said, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” and now he says, “Let the WORD of Christ dwell in you.”
The Word of Christ is the Gospel message and the hope that we have. When what has been said by or about Christ indwells us, then we are equipped to teach and instruct each other with wisdom and understanding.
It’s interesting how the idea of wisdom carries through Paul’s letter:
General Guidelines for our New Life
Now he just gives a principle for them to follow.
In the Bible, a name indicated the essential character of a person. Paul has shown that Jesus is Lord of all as the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Reconciler and the One in whom the fullness of Deity dwells. So if we do or say something in Jesus’ name, it must be consistent with Jesus’ character and well. As His representatives, we act or speak as He would if He were present.
So doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus does away with the necessity for rules. Inward motivation replaces external rules. External rules, even when good, are not adequate for every situation - the rule of the indwelling Christ is the only sufficient guide.
Paul knew that a list of do’s and don’ts that covered every aspect of the believer’s life would be reverting to legalism – exactly what he had been condemning the false teachers for and what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for.Their life, word or deed, whatever they said or did, was to be under the direction of Christ. As a Christian, you represent Christ at all times - wherever you go and whatever you say. In other words, the best testimony of a new life is an obedient life.
Once again, Paul reminds them that Christ is the only mediator to God - not saints, pastors or priests. Notice how, in the last three verses, he has said we are to be thankful or grateful.
Here are some things that will help us live for God day by day:
We’ve been talking about setting our hearts on things that are in heaven and not things here on earth. So we are to put to death the earthly desires in us, to rid ourselves of things that hindered our relationship to God, such as: immorality, indecency, lust, evil passions and greed.
Then there are the things that hinder our relationship with ourselves, such as: anger, rage and hateful feelings. These emotions are harder on ourselves than they are on the person we are angry with.
Then the things that hinder our relationships with others, such as: insults, obscene talk or lying.
You may not have problems with some of these things but maybe you can help someone else who does. We can all have more of the things we are to put on in place of the things we were to rid ourselves of - such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, helpfulness and forgiveness. To all of these we are to add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. Not uniformity but unity.
Everything we do or say is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. That is, with the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of God.
Click here for Colossians study Part 13
Part 13: Leadership Qualities click here