Grace and Grooming
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 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.
Guess what....I'm a sinner.
Guess what else. I'm forgiven.
I remember when I joined the military; I was a complete sloppy mess. I made my bed, sometimes…I lounged around my parent’s house, and my idea of “helping out around the house” was making sure I put my dishes beside the sink. I didn’t like the way I was living, I felt lazy, and unproductive, so I knew it was time for a change. Late 2003 I packed up and joined the Army while my parents were in Vegas. When I came home from basic, my mom told my Aunt that there had been a complete transformation, not only was it visible because of the uniform, but I was now disciplined(ish), neat(ish), and considerate(ish). While that was a good change. When we submit our lives to Christ, God transforms us in an even better way. A common misconception is that once our lives are given to Christ, there is an automatic enlightenment, and we are automatically better, spiritual people, life becomes easier and its all butterflies and rainbows. It is not an instant transformation however, but an ongoing one. I believe that when we begin to let Christ dwell in us, God will break us down, and train us, so that we may be built back up, renewed and strengthened. The Basic training is like that. Drill Sergeants constantly yell at you, they make you push for any little thing; they deprive you of sleep, of good food, of caffeine….you are pushed to your limits, mentally and physically, all for the sole purpose of breaking you down so that they can build you back up, better, stronger, and more disciplined, 9 weeks later, we leave out as soldiers, fully prepared for battle. I believe that God does the same thing. No God doesn’t yell at us, or punish us for no reason, or even deprive us of coffee, but he definitely grooms us.
It says in Col 3:12 that since God chose us to be the holy people he loves we must clothe ourselves with clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This is not a switch we just turn on. To make us more merciful, God sends us people that we need to be merciful too. To be kind, God is going to send people in our lives that we need to be kind to, even if we don’t want to. He will humble us, teach us to be gentle, and of course constantly teach us to be patient by giving us situations where we HAVE to be patient. As the old saying goes “never pray for patience.”
One of the most difficult things I think we find as Christians, especially as we are trying to better ourselves is addressed in the next verse:
13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
We are forgiven by the grace of God, so why do we find it so hard to forgive people? It’s simple: we are human. The human in me has a tendency to just assume everyone is like me. It took me a lot of years and “grooming” to learn to let other people be other people, and I can’t control the behavior of other people. We tend to focus on the mistakes people make instead of maybe why they made them. It’s easy to be quick to judge…
So what is the remedy for this? How do we work on forgiving others and letting them be them? The answer is stated in verse 14
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
Love is the answer. We have to clothe ourselves in love. When we love people, for who they are, not who we think they should be, we build relationship with them. We let love rule our hearts, and we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. When you can’t forgive somebody, don’t sit on it, confront it, make your amends, let it go and move on. Let God work in you, because you never know what kind of work God is going to do in you through it, and it may be the Jesus people need to see. Sometimes isn’t easy to do, but we need to be honest with God about it. When you can’t do it, let it God and let God do it for you.
This is something I struggle with every day guys. Its something I'm having to deal with in a minute by minute basis at the moment as a matter of fact. But I know that where I am weak, God becomes my strength, and God is nothing but good and like it says in Romans 8:28
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
We are constantly changing. As God brings us closer to Him he will tear us down, build us up and give us situations, people and experiences that are going to be difficult. When these seasons come into play, take heart, give it to God and let his peace and mercy will rule in your heart. You won't be sorry.