Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Dear God, as I read this passage this morning, I couldn’t figure out where to break it off and make it into a more bite-sized chunk. It starts with all of the stuff I am supposed to give up. And it’s a good list:
- Sexual immorality
- Evil desires
- Greed (and the idolatry that comes with it)
- Malicious behavior
- Dirty language
I am always fascinated that Paul almost always leads off lists like this with sexual immorality. I supposed nothing is new under that sun. In this case, sexual issues get at least two out of the first three (unless you consider impurity to be sexual as well, in which case you get all three). But I find it interesting…no, interesting isn’t the right word. Not interesting. I guess it’s just a fundamental truth that these are the things to which we are drawn apart from you. The instinct is to satisfy self. I want to satisfy my desires and needs. If I have a sexual desire, it should be satisfied immediately. If I see something I want then I should have it. If someone offends me or violates my self-perceived rights then I should express anger and rage over that. If someone is getting ahead of me or achieving more than me, then I can take them down through malicious behavior and slander. If I want people of like spirit to like me, then bawdy language is something I can use to ingratiate myself to them. And then there’s lying–the simplest form of protecting myself from people knowing the truth about me.
But here’s what Paul gives us as our new standard after we’ve given up our lives and embraced you:
- Tenderhearted mercy
- Allowing for others’ faults
And what happens when we die to our own rights? The peace that comes from Christ rules in our hearts–in my heart. Paul explicitly calls these things the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5, but he finds a way to spread them throughout the letters he writes to the early church. Beyond getting to go to heaven and getting my fire insurance, a relationship with you brings about some amazing things while on earth, the most important of which, in my mind anyway, is peace.
Father, please continuously point out to me where I have allowed lust, greed/idolatry, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language, and lying to still reside in my heart. Please forgive me for these things. I am sorry, and I truly want to be better. But I don’t want to simply be better so I can experience peace, or even heaven, but so that I might be of use to you in this world. I want others to be drawn to you through my life. Help me to
“[die] to this life” and fully live in the “real life hidden with Christ in God.”
In Jesus’s name I pray,