If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times over to the little souls that abide under our roof: “Sweetheart, I hear your ‘I am sorry’, but I want to see your ‘I am sorry.'”
Now before you think I’m a cold-hearted mama who disregards the genuine apologies of growing babies, let me explain a little further…
In our house, we appreciate the I am sorry phrase. For us, an apology is the beginning of change; it’s a starting place of humility; and it’s a wonderful platform for repentance. Mama loves her some apologies! In fact, I believe those three words can embody such tender holiness and gracious love.
However, there comes a time when the rubber needs to meet the road of our apologies…a time when the words need to be followed by actions…a time when the confession of our mouths need to be evidenced by the change in our behavior.
Sincere confessions requires genuine change.
So when I get to the passage in Colossians 3:12-17, I find my mama-heart resonating with Paul’s emphasis to the believers in Colossae.
In the prior 11 verses, Paul has basically been saying, “Listen up people! If you are a new creation in Christ, live like it! Put off the old stuff and put on the new stuff. Act like you’re alive; stop living dead!”
Makes sense, right?
If you believe what you say you believe, then live like you believe what you say!
But if I’m being entirely honest, the Lord calls His dearly beloved ones to some pretty tough stuff – tough stuff that takes our profession and confession straight to the mat.
So after digging through Colossians 3:12-17, I find four specific areas where God is asking His people demonstrate their changed hearts:
Area 1: Love
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” v. 12, 14
Did you see what Paul did there? He called the Colossians dearly loved and then calls them to live out of that identity. Why? Because God loves us.
And how does the Lord ask us to love?
He asks us to love with compassion in the face of hard-heartedness. He calls us to love with kindness in the presence of rudeness. He calls us to love with humility when we are presented with pride. He calls us to love with gentleness when we are met with belligerence. And He calls us to love with patience when we are faced with impatience.
Hopers, He is asking us to live out a love that involves tough stuff with hard-to-love people in hard-to-deal-with situations. This is the call He requires with our confession.
He wants us to love that co-worker who has a heart and an aura of Fort Knox. He wants us to extend love to the mean stranger at Target. He wants us to love the proud and arrogant family member. He wants us to offer love to our belligerent children and our stubborn spouses. He wants us to love the church members who are impatient and intolerant.
The expectations of our faith are not for the faint of heart.
Area 2: Forgive
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” v. 13
He then goes a step further and not only calls us to love the unlovely and unlovable, but He then asks us to forgive them, too. WHAT?!?! Too much, Lord. Too much.
And why does He ask us to follow our profession of faith with this act? Because forgiveness was the act that followed His love. Because He loved us, He forgave us too.
And He calls us to the same kind of forgiving spirit.
You know that wound you suffered? You remember that wall you felt? You remember that war that was waged on you? You remember those hurtful words spoken against and unto you?
Yes, those are the things He is asking us to forgive. ALL the things from ALL the people ALL the time.
The demand for discipleship is deep.
Area 3: Dwell
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace… Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…” v. 15
The next action the Lord asks of His chosen and changed people is to dwell.
Dwell: to reside, to live in, to be settled in, to lodge, to stay.
Why does the Lord ask His confessing converts to dwell?
Because He just asked us to love the unlovely and to forgive the seemingly unforgivable.
Hopers, we can’t love and we can’t forgive if we aren’t dwelling in Him.
He wants peace to dwell in our hearts; He wants the message of Christ to make a home inside our hearts; and He wants to take up residence in the recessed of our souls because He knows the call following the confession won’t be easy and won’t be attainable without Him.
We must dwell because the call is daunting.
Area 4: Worship
“…as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” v. 16-17
And lastly, the Lord calls us to worship.
Through teaching and admonishing one another, through thankful singing, and through each and everything we do, worship is the call.
Maybe worship looks like singing songs in the shower. Maybe worship looks like texting Scripture to your struggling friend. Maybe worship looks like washing dishes, folding laundry, and bathing babies. Maybe worship looks like teaching a Bible study or listening to a podcast. Maybe worship looks like a list of praises and a laundry list of prayer. Maybe worship looks like bowed heads or raised hands. Whatever it looks like or sounds like, it doesn’t matter. No matter where it happens or how long it happens, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s taking place.
And why is worship the call on the lives of those who have been loved and changed from the inside-out?
Because worship keeps our hearts focused, our eyes on the prize, and our wills submitted.
When we worship, we are reminded of why we love, why we forgive, and why we are called to dwell.
A life of worship is the response of the redeemed.
Hopers, I don’t know where you are in your journey of faith, but I pray you will continue to live your confession and work out your profession as you love, forgive, dwell, and worship.
“…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…”