Making Allowances

Fault 2While I appreciate the sentiment of this statement, I have one major problem with it: Sometimes it does. Sometimes, poor planning – what many consider a “fault” – by another requires emergency action on my part.

Consider the following “faults,” inserting your own story.

She doesn’t handle last-minute changes well.

He doesn’t keep track of commitments.

She does most of her work last-minute.

He does not listen very well.

In such instances, there was a time when I would verbalize my irritation and either let others flounder in their faults or at the very least be uncomfortable in the wrath of my irritation. But then Colossians 3:13 got into my spirit:

Faults 1

For years, I simply did not want to make allowances. I wanted to correct people. I wanted to be justified in walking away in times of emergency or at least in making my annoyance clear as I bailed them out once again. Unfortunately, those reactions only allowed my emotions to rule and failed to cultivate relationships.

The only way I could begin applying what Paul meant when he instructed the church in Colossae to “make allowances for each other’s faults”  involved admitting that I too am part of the “each other.” In other words, I too have faults that others need to make allowances for regularly. And I want them to, right?

Doesn’t that mean they will, but I can only control my end of the “each other” and no one else’s. This involves realizing that making allowances doesn’t mean saying the faults are okay and don’t need changed; instead, it means that we take the fact that we all have faults into consideration and our New Nature Relationships strengthen as grace flows.

AllowancesHow to Make Allowances

Let’s look at Colossians 3:13 in context (vv. 12-15) for instruction on carrying out this aspect of cultivating relationships as we put on our new nature clothing showing we belong to Christ and are grateful for Him choosing us, making us holy, and loving us. In other words, how we treat others, including how we respond to their faults, reflects our inner ensemble, which includes:

  1. Tenderhearted mercy – Making undeserved allowances in a way that avoids hurting the offender even when justified in doing so.
  2. Kindness – Instead of lashing out because of chronic inconvenience, proceed in a way that preserves and strengthens the relationship.
  3. Humility – Not showing your rightness, but instead covering others weakness. You can either be right or have relationship; humility chooses relationship.
  4. Gentleness – Allowing and even helping the offender maintain and move forward with dignity.
  5. Patience – Allowing the mental space to recognize and correct faults, which are likely a frustrating struggle.

Right after instructions for making allowances, Paul says to complete the outfit of our new selves by forgiving others and by wearing love, which he calls “the most important piece of clothing.” Paul stresses forgiveness because “the Lord forgave you” and love because it binds believers “in perfect harmony.”

Cultivating Relationship

As we look at the details of cultivating New Nature Relationships, we begin to see how the focus must come off self and onto showing love. In our own efforts, impossible. But through the Holy Spirit, we are free to operate wearing the clothing of the new nature.

DISCUSSION: How might your current relationships benefit from “making allowances for each other’s faults”?

New Nature Relationships

Looking Good

My youngest son likes to look good. He likes to wear stylish clothes and for everything to match. He’s also been known to make and wear his own jewelry. My oldest, like his dad, keeps his clothing choices very basic with jeans and a t-shirt being his favorite ensemble. My oldest would never say he’s wearing an “outfit,” while my youngest frequently refers to his clothing that way.

While our physical clothing differs greatly from person to person and reflects the unique aspects of an individual’s personality, every Christian is called to put on the same “outfit,” if you will, based on the new life Christ won for them. In fact, this clothing Paul talks about has tremendous impact on the quality of our relationships.

new life 3Impact of New Life on Relationships

Paul begins Colossians 3 by telling those who have new life in Christ, which he detailed in previous chapters of the book, to focus on the “realities of Heaven.” He follows this exhortation with instructions for cultivating relationships. The rest of the chapter, as well much of the next one, details what we are to take off and what we are to put on as we clothe ourselves in our new lives, and those activities center around getting rid of selfish desires and adding in ones that cultivate Godly relationships.

While Paul provides a list of specific old nature habits (Colossians 3:5-9), the main point involves getting rid of a focus on self. Since the old self died when we gained new life in Christ, the old habits need to go as well. Sure, you could check to see if your personal habits are in the examples Paul gives, but the point really involves getting rid of selfishness and focusing on the habits of our new natures.

While the habits of our old nature produce only evil and decay, the habits of the new nature renew daily as we focus on Christ and not on a set of rules or requirements (Colossians 3:10-4:1). The focus of our new natures is to be on others and on building relationships. This does not mean forgetting yourself completely; after all, Jesus said to love others AS yourself, not INSTEAD of yourself, a point focused on in a future post.

Free to Be New

But sometimes, often actually, old habits just seem too hard, even impossible, to overcome let alone eradicate altogether. And on our own, shedding them truly is impossible. But under the new nature, we are not bound by the flesh and its desires because we are led by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:9-12). This is why Tongue Taming is possible, and this is why cultivating Godly relationships is also possible.

Plus, if we focus on what we are to put on in our new natures, the old habits won’t have room to even exist let alone operate within us. As we focus on clothing our new natures, we’ll find that we don’t even want that old stuff anymore. Just look at the new nature clothing:

new life 1

Then there’s the activity of the new nature to add on, sort of the outerwear on top of the main outfit.

new life 2

Personally, I could stop here. I could just focus on what we’ve discussed so far and no other part of Scripture and have plenty to develop the rest of my life. So even though Paul continues through the rest of Colossians with more instruction on building and cultivating Godly relationships, we’ll focus on the specifics of Paul’s advice that we’ve listed here as we go into even further into the details of relationships.

DISCUSSION: What stands out the most to you in Colossians 3 regarding the cultivating of Godly relationships?

Battling Boredom: My Struggle with a Flat Faith – Part IV

4-11-13 path 2My propensity for boredom exists as a built-in barometer for many areas of my life, including my faith. When boredom starts to abide, especially within relationships or church or studying, I know that some area of my life is misaligned.

Sometimes, though, I get so wrapped up in feelings of boredom or depression or whatever and fail to realize that I am off track. That’s usually when the Holy Spirit steps up His game to get my attention. This happened recently during a significant battle with boredom (Part I) that ended up being an indication of a flat faith caused by lack of connection (Part II) and a focus on comparisons (Part III).

The Path to a Plan

When I thought of examples of boredom in scripture, David came to mind. One reason I think David was led to pursue Bathsheba was boredom. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He couldn’t sleep. He seemed restless and bored in the middle of the night with no late night television to distract him. (See 2 Samuel 11.)

Thinking about David’s boredom along with my own, four realizations came to mind.4-11-13 path 1

  1. Boredom can be from selfishness. Though God desires for us to enjoy life, the enjoyment of life is not to be our primary concern. The kingdom of God, not our own lives, is to be our main concern (Matthew 6:31-34). But when we focus on enjoying life, self gratification becomes the focus instead, the attainment of which is impossible.
  2. Boredom can lead to sin. Idleness, which often happens when we are bored, can lead to wrong choices, including sowing discord (creating disunity) among others (1 Timothy 5:13). In other words, boredom can be infectious if it’s caused by someone not doing what he is supposed to be doing. The result? Drama and sinful choices.
  3. Boredom leads to discontentment. Learning contentment is the key to curing boredom. How do we learn contentment? Rely on God’s strength, which he gives generously to lead us to a place where we aren’t disquieted and disturbed (Philippians 4:11).
  4. Boredom can be used by the Holy Spirit. Had David questioned why he was restless, perhaps he could have corrected the behavior that led to his restlessness. David did not lack resources, nor did he lack things to do. He simply lost his focus. I know when I lose my focus, the Holy Spirit uses boredom (restlessness) to get me back on track.

“At a time when kings go to battle,” King David stayed home. As a result, he discovered himself in a place of boredom that led to discontentment and sin. What might David’s story be like had he been executing his battle plan as was expected of the king?

4-11-13 Flat FaithA New Perspective

I used to believe avoiding boredom was all about simply having something to do, with occupying myself. I even insist that my kids occupy themselves regularly. Through this journey, I’ve realized that boredom is directly related to contentment.

Contentment involves being able to just be without having to work on a “to do” item. It’s about connecting with Christ, with my family, with friends and even with people I don’t know. Contentment is about cultivating relationship.

Contentment means I don’t have to constantly evaluate my day and only count it as successful if tangible items were accomplished. It’s about realizing that sometimes the best way to manage my time is by doing nothing except just being with Jesus.

Contentment means staying attached to the vine (John 15:5). As Kathy Howard says in “Fed Up with Flat Faith,” contentment comes “when we maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus” because “He will guide us to the works He has planned for us and empower us to do them.”

This journey through my battle with boredom is almost complete. Part V lays out a battle plan that will allow me to move forward in victory having defeated my boredom caused by lack of connection and a focus on comparisons. Thank you for sticking with me!

DISCUSSION: What other Bible stories relate to this series on Battling Boredom that we have not yet covered?

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are taken from Fed Up with Flat Faith by Kathy Howard. Also, be sure to heck out Kathy’s guest posts Flat Spots Here and There – Part I and Flat Spots Here and There – Part II.

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