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