I’m giving you a new commandment, and it’s this: love one another! Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how everybody will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other. (13:34-35)
Christians are known by their sacrificial, inconvenient love. Nothing is more of a calling card than love. Not going to church. Not how one votes. Not social policy one supports or opposes. Not one’s moral code. Not whether one takes or refuses that drink offered at a dinner party. Not one’s language. Not bumper stickers or symbols on the back of a car. Not biblical knowledge. Not leadership roles in a church. Not community service. Not parenting styles or the behavior of one’s children. Not the percentage of money given away to others. Christians are known by the degree they allow themselves to serve others at their own expense, their willingness to treat people with kindness and gentleness when they deserve much less, the degree to which we make life not about us but about others.
“They will know we are Christians by our love.” We have sung this since we were children, but we need these regular reminders, don’t we?
What do you think?
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As he did in Ephesians, at the tail end of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4, Paul ends this letter with a reminder that new life in Christ also affects our everyday relationships. In the middle of that section — technically called a “household code” — Paul says this:
Whatever you do, give it your very best. (3:23)
Good relationships take our very best. Husbands and wives can’t expect to have a good relationship if there is little effort put into their marriage. Parenting is too challenging to think we can find success with only our leftovers. Tired, distracted fathers find it too easy to “provoke their children to anger” (3:21). The workplace can easily become tyranny if the boss isn’t trying to give her employees the best, to their benefit and to the mission of the organization.
But how is that possible? We don’t always want to give our best. Quite frankly, there are many situations where the people in our life don’t deserve our best. Paul knows this and his answer comes in the very next phrase:
Give it your very best, as if you were working for the master and not for human beings. (3:23b)
We give our best out of devotion to God, not because other people deserve it.
That’s grace. It isn’t just some concept we pull out when we want to talk about the conceptual matter of how God saves our soul. Grace is also the very practical, unmerited blessings we give the people in our life in the nitty gritty of day-to-day life.
What did you learn from Colossians this week?
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