Tag Archives: Colossians

One Tool

The biggest Swiss Army knife would never fit in your pocket.  It is 9″ wide and weighs 2 pounds.  It has 141 different tools folded up in it, including a hook dis-gorger and a snap shackle.  If you bought it, you might have more room in your pocket though, because it lists for $2100.  I suppose this thing is a joke, but before it went to seed, the idea of having one tool with which you could do most things was attractive.

Paul lists a bunch of new behaviors for followers of Jesus to put into practice:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   –  (Colossians 3:12-14a (NIV)) 
That’s quite a list – a nice list, to be sure – but a lot to remember.  And, even at that, it is not comprehensive; it doesn’t include everything for us with which to “clothe ourselves”.   However, there is a “Swiss Army Knife” of attitudes for Christians, one tool for most circumstances.  Here’s the rest of what Paul wrote:

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  –  (Colossians 3:14b)

If you understand that love is an act of will with which I put away my self-interest to minister to what you need, all of the attitudes listed in the first passage really are bound together under the one tool called love.  Better yet, you will discover that “Love” fits in your pocket.  It’s not free however; it costs you, maybe even more than $2100 in some circumstances.  But it is a great tool, worth much more than the biggest Swiss Army Knife.

Soul Mechanic

A mechanic told me the air conditioner on the engine of my old RV was shot and would cost over $2000 to fix.  After one summer trip across the Midwest, I was ready for a second opinion.  I found a guy who was a certified instructor for truck mechanics.  He fixed my a/c for $200 and it has been working fine ever since.  It is tough to know who to trust when your truck breaks down.  It boils down to who has the best information and training.  And the stakes can be pretty high.

The stakes are much higher when your communication with God has broken down, when you need a “soul mechanic.”  I did a quick Google search for “spiritual advisor near me.”  I got 261,000 options, from psychics to witches, faith healers and such.  With such a variety, how do you know who to trust?  Here’s what you need to know: Basically, all “soul mechanics” can be sorted into two categories: those who base their teaching on human opinions and Jesus.  Paul compares the two like this:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

But what makes Jesus’ teachings more trustworthy than all the others?  It is the Source of His information.  The good mechanic got his information directly from the actual manufacturers of the equipment, passing their tests, so he would be qualified to train other mechanics in a reliable way.  That other guy was just guessing.  What is the Source of Jesus’ information?

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” (Colossians 2:9,)

Nobody else comes even close…  Who will you trust?

Quotes:  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Without Boots or Beards

It used to be fashionable to travel to some exotic place, climb a steep mountain and sit under the teaching of a man known to be full of spiritual wisdom and understanding.  Did you ever wonder why he was way up there?  You might think someone with spiritual wisdom and understanding would realize just how much people need such things down here in town.  People who don’t own hiking boots and have a couple extra weeks of vacation.

But what if you could have spiritual wisdom and understanding?  What if you could get your spiritual insight directly from God, Himself?  It sounds almost blasphemous  to even consider such a thing.  You would have to have a special, direct connection with God’s Spirit!

And yet, this is exactly what Paul prayed would be given to his friends, not to wise old giants of the faith, but to newbies and rookies who were just getting used to following Jesus. 

Paul wrote and told them:
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,…” – (Colossians 1:9)

Most of those folks didn’t live on mountain peaks and sport long white beards.  They looked about as much like a guru as you do. But what Paul prayed they might receive, as astonishing and unlikely as it may seem, is what Jesus promised to give to anyone who would trust Him fully. 

Jesus said:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  – (John 14:16-17)

Imagine that!  Spiritual wisdom and understanding for anyone who would trust and  pay attention.  No hiking boots needed.

The Love Test

Do you ever wonder if you really believe in Jesus?  Are you a citizen or merely a tourist in the land of faith?  Since you cannot see faith, and since our minds deceive us (remember that romance in Jr. High?), is there a telltale sign we can look for to assess the genuineness of our faith?  Jesus said if we love one another as He loved us, others would know.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – (John 13:35)

Not Hallmark card love.  It’s the kind of love Jesus extended on the cross, dying to pay a debt we could not.  This kind of love (agape love) is an act of personal sacrifice in compassionate response to a need of someone else, with no expectation of any return.

If you find yourself increasingly moved to bless someone else in his need, not out of obligation or guilt, but out of agape love, this is a telltale sign of real faith. 

As John wrote:
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: –  (1John 3:18-19)

The connection between real faith and sacrificial love is hope.  Not wishful thinking, but confidence in the future.  When we know we cannot lose, loving sacrifice becomes logical.  They could steal from us, hate us, persecute us, sue us or even kill us and it would not change the outcome for us in eternity.  We cannot lose.  Because we have real hope, it is safe  for us to love.  Agape love is a sign of faith because it is extended in direct contrast to the “rules” of the world.

Paul was excited and thankful for the new Colossian believers…

…because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—  the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel. – (Colossians 1:4-5)