Whenever I preach or teach about Jesus Christ, I try to give something practical to those listening so they can apply it in their lives. Lofty thoughts and powerful words can inspire, but what most often sustains us is down-to-earth, meet-us-where-we-live wisdom. This is true today, and it was equally true two thousand years ago.
After Jesus rose from the dead and later ascended to Heaven, His disciples began telling everyone the good news – indeed, the great news – about salvation through Christ. People were hungry for this message, but what they also needed to know was how to live holy lives. Some would find this in the solitude of the desert or with a small community of like-minded believers, but most were looking for answers in the rough-and-tumble world we simply call life.
Throughout the Word of God, we can find what to do, and what to avoid doing, to help us become holy. Holiness does not mean attaining perfection or floating above the struggles of everyday life. It means being in the world, but not of the world, by becoming what God wants us to become. There is no magic formula or prescription, but in the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, he gives us some important considerations:
As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. 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 message of Christ dwell among you richly 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.
Colossians 3:12-17, NIV
Do you want to walk the path of holiness? Then try clothing yourself with the spiritual garments described by Paul to the Colossians:
Love. Greater than even faith or hope (1 Corinthians 13:13), love as Jesus loved – without reservation or condition (John 15:12-13). And remember, we are not called by God to do extraordinary things but only ordinary things with extraordinary love (Jean Vanier/Mother Teresa of Calcutta).
Some will ask, “What’s in it for me?” In a world which esteems competitiveness and rewards those who come out on top, the actions advocated by Paul seem to imply weakness. However, he answered this question as well: when you are weak, then, by the power of Christ, you are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Furthermore, in his Letter to the Colossians, Paul revealed the ultimate goal of holiness: the peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15), which, we are told, surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
If you want to be holy, to be more like our Savior, then try – with simple steps and in simple ways – the virtues offered by Paul to the Colossians. Time has not diminished their value, nor can it diminish the eternal reward which awaits those who try (Philippians 3:14).
-- Dr. John Morris