12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
Reflection: Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
The fashion industry is a three trillion dollar a year global industry. You can buy multiple fashions and change your outer attitude and expression any way you desire. We’ve all heard the phrase “the clothes make the man” and many people practice that misguided “wisdom.” But even if we do not put that much importance on what we wear, we all have particular styles that fit our personalities. This time of year I love wearing my blue jeans, long sleeve t-shirt, and purple Converse. You might not be caught dead in that, but you have your favorite fashion, too!
Paul is reminding the church at Colossae that the most important things they can clothe themselves in are those characteristics of the divine nature, as shown in Jesus’s life and reflected in our daily experience of the fruit of the Spirit. These are definitely oriented toward our outer self-expressions. Compassion, kindness, patience, and love are all active in nature. You cannot be passively, patience, for example. Patience is only patience when we put it into practice.
But all of these “clothes” of the divine nature have to be experienced internally before they can be practiced, or “put on.” You cannot act like Jesus just by taking a new shirt or blouse off the hanger in your closet. Our inner connection with God is what clothes our external actions. In this sense, it is not the clothes that make the man or woman; it is the man or woman, in their bonding with God, who makes the clothes appear. Someone who is united with the God of compassion, for example, will wear compassion naturally. There is no compassion store, where we can bypass communion with God and buy the trait off the rack.
One thing we have practiced at our house is going through our closet in the new year and discarding anything we have not worn in the past year. It is amazing how such items continue to make it into our closets year after year. Perhaps this is not a bad idea to do spiritually as well. What inner attitudes or exterior defenses do you need to discard so that you can dress yourself in the character of Jesus Christ? There might not be any time better than the new year to clean out the spiritual wardrobe!
Journaling Focus: Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
What song, hymn, liturgical writing, or poem has been especially meaningful for your life? For me, I would have to choose either For the Beauty of the Earth or the Great Thanksgiving of the Communion liturgy. Think about one of these particularly meaningful works of written/musical art. How have its words guided you or transformed you? Has this work helped define who you are? How so? Reflect on the power of songs and poetry in your spiritual life as you journal this week.
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Read and sing the hymn When Morning Gilds the Skies. By following the link, you can access the text and audio files for the hymn. This is a wonderful hymn to both end a year and begin a new one, especially with its refrain of “May Jesus Christ Be Praised!” What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Is there someone whom you have struggled to forgive? All of us have deep hurts and pains that come from things others have done to us. Do not venture into the new year with unresolved issues of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean that we dismiss what has been done to us. Instead, forgiveness means that we are honest about what someone has done to hurt us and we confront it head-on with the healing power of Jesus Christ. Trust Jesus to bring healing and to release you from the burden of bitterness. Pray for the ability to forgive the one who has hurt you.
Meditation Focus: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
This week, think of a verse or passage of Scripture that has been especially meaningful to you. Now imagine writing it down and crumbling that paper into a ball. Watch as God transforms that wad of paper into a root ball of a tree. That tree is the fruit of blessing growing out of that Scripture passage. Now allow God to plant that root ball in your heart. God will water and nourish the roots all year long and it will grow into a tree of spiritual fruit throughout 2019. Remember that God’s word is powerful. God says through Isaiah that “My word…that goes out from my mouth…shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose.”
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How do my actions reflect Jesus’s character? How have you acted in Jesus’s name?
- In what ways is God dwelling in you?
- In what ways are you dwelling in God?
- How have you experienced harmony with God and others?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
One word that sticks out to me in this passage is the word meekness. I think of meekness as being able to sit back, quietly observe a situation, process it wisely, and respond in grace. Practice this in your interpersonal relationships this week. Do not listen to respond, readying what you will say next. Instead, be attentive, wisely observe, and respond with intention and humility. You might be surprised by the life-giving space such action creates in your relationships.
Breath Prayer: LORD God, clothe us in your nature.