Posted by: brittany marie | May 14, 2008

as god’s elect – col. 3

Colossians, or Paul’s work to those at Colossae, has come up a few times in the past two weeks. I even led a bible study on part of it at IV’s Chapter Camp this past week. Even though the study went well, I still wasn’t satisfied with how I was leaving the scripture. I decided that once I got home, I was going to take another look because not only do I want to learn more about it, I want to be able to apply it in my life.

 

Colossians 3:12-17 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. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 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.

 

What really interested me was the list given at the beginning: compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness, patience, bearing with, forgiving, and then putting on love. I even wondered if the list might be put in that order on purpose instead of just being some arbitrary list of good qualities.

 

Compassion: is actually two words and is probably said better in the KJV as “bowels of mercy” or in a modern sense “heart of compassion.” The two words are “splagchnon” and “oiktirmo.” [G4698 // splagchnon: bowels, intesting (Hebrews regarded the bowels as the seat of tender affections, especially kindness, etc.)] [G3628 // oiktirmos: when paired with G4698 it is the heart of compassion]

 

John Gill calls compassion the innermost of the garments and says it denotes inward pity and compassions to distressed objects: weeping with them that weep. The definition of compassions is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

 

So, compassion is the first step of identifying with one another.

 

Kindness: [G5544 // chrestotes: usefulness, i.e. morally, excellence in character – gentleness, “goodness” in the sense of what is upright…it is goodness in action: contrasted w/ severity no sin.] It is also listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. I

 

This could build upon compassion (identifying) with an action toward ending the suffering or pain of another.

 

Humility: (or humbleness of mind) [G5012 // tapeinophrosune: humiliation of the mind, i.e. modesty, humility, loneliness of mind] Philippians 2:3 says Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Perhaps in that action of kindness we must be humble. We help not because we are better but because we are at the same state they are.

Gentleness (Meekness): [G4236 // praiotes: gentleness, by implication humility: inwrought grace of the soul: the exercise of which are chiefly and foremost toward God…closely linked with humility (tapeinophrosune)] Only a humble heart can also be meek. But meekness is not synonymous with weakness which implies that a man cannot help himself. Rather, look at the story of Jesus as he washes the disciples’ feet:

 

John 13: 3-5 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

 

Look at verse three especially. Jesus knows that he as the power of God and that all things are under him. Yet, the next thing he does is to perform one of the lowliest tasks imaginable. He washes feet. Jesus is meek because he has the infinite resources of God and yet steps down to be a servant. Meekness is not the opposite of strength, but rather self-assertiveness.

 

So meekness isn’t just a continuation of humility but a fulfillment of it with all self-interest within gone. Maybe humility is more outward and meekness is an inward state between man and God.

 

Patience (longsuffering): [G3115 // makrothumia: fortitude: longsuffering, patience: from macros (long) and thumos (temper)] This is also listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.

 

So longsuffering is patience and it means that we are to continue in the previous attributes indefinitely, just as our Lord who continues with us even though he has every right to let go.  

 

Bearing with one another (forbearing): [G430 // anechomai: to hold oneself up against, to put up with, endure, sustain]

 

So we continue in longsuffering but by being there, close and on their level, providing what they need or lack…supporting.

 

Forgiving one another: [G5483 // charizomai: “to bestow favor unconditionally,” to let loose from, to release, pardon, deliver]

 

So, as we continue with them we also forgive in that time as well.

 

But then Paul writes that we should put love over all these things.

 

Love (charity in the KJV): [G26 // agape: affection of benevolence, feast of love: from agapao which was more of a choice to love and not just affectionate feelings like phileo] Paul calls love “the bond [G4886 // sundesmos: a joint tie, control (think ligaments in the body)] of perfection. [G5047 // teleiotes: completeness, in this case stressing the actual accomplishment of the end in view]” Is love the thing that should be…it’s the realization of the finish…love is the end result when all is reconciled and completed…or is it that which propels us toward that end.

 

So, we begin with compassion which is identifying with the suffering and feeling desire to change their situation for the better. Kindness follows and is the actual action…but this is not to be done in a proud manner as one above the other reaching down in pity but as one on lower ground…in humility. This is then paired with meekness inferring a real state of lowness, having the power to be something greater but choosing to remain low…a servant as Christ was.

 

And in this we are called to be patient, but also to bear with them, lifting them up, running alongside, etc. Even then when it doesn’t work out, when mistakes are made we are called to forgive, to release them from our anger or annoyance…

 

But for any part of this endeavor to be successful we must have love. Love propels the other forward and provides reason when there is none…

 

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://vines.mike-obrien.net/

http://www.biblegateway.com/

http://strongsnumbers.com/

http://www.blueletterbible.org/

 

 

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