March 23, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Colossians 3:12-17 (NRSV)
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We can live with gratitude even in difficult times. Why? Because God has chosen us, set us apart for God’s purposes, and loved us with a love that will never let us go. We are thankful, not because life is filled with pleasure and free of pain; rather, we are thankful because of what God has done for us through Christ. The more we live in light of this reality, the more we’ll be able to live each day with gratitude.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Live Who You Are.
Today I am wrapping up the devotional series called “Live Who You Are.” As you know, it has been based on Colossians 3:12-17, an extraordinary passage that helps us live in daily life who we are as God’s special people. In yesterday’s devotion, I focused on the last phrase of our text, “giving thanks to God the Father through [Christ]” (3:17). Today, I will connect this closing phrase to the opening one, “As God’s chosen ones, holy, and beloved” (3:12).
I have noted before that this passage bases our life as Christians, not on the things we must do to earn God’s favor, but on the fact that God has already shown us his favor through Christ. Before Paul lays out how we should live, he addresses us as “God’s chosen ones, holy, and beloved.” God has chosen us, even as he once chose Israel, to be his special people. We are holy, that is, set apart by God for a relationship with God and for his purposes. And we are beloved, loved by God with a love that will never let us go. God has saved us, not on the basis of anything we have done, but as an expression of God’s own love and grace.
Because of who we are in Christ, we are to live each day as God’s special people. We do so by putting on the clothing of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. We put up with and, as needed, forgive each other. Above all, we are to clothe ourselves with love. Then, we’re to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and the word of Christ dwell richly among us by teaching each other and singing to God. No matter what we do, we’re to do everything under the authority of Jesus and for his purposes. As we do this, we will be filled with gratitude, giving thanks to God for all of God’s goodness to us.
The emphasis on gratitude in the closing verses of our passage connects back to the opening phrase. Why do we live with consistent thanksgiving? Because of what God has done for us in Christ. Because of who we are in Christ. To be sure, we are thankful for the daily gifts of God. But, most of all, we are grateful because God has chosen us, because God has set us apart, and because God loves us.
The more we attend to who we are as God’s special people, the more we will be motivated to live who we are. Plus, the more we will live with gratitude. Grateful hearts will also be open hearts, hearts ready to receive even more of God’s grace each day.
The picture of the Christian life in Colossians 3:12-17 is not one dominated by musts and shoulds, by rules and regulations. Yes, there are things we are to do and ways we are to live. But these things and ways are responses to God’s grace. Thus, we live thankfully, expressing our gratitude, not only in words, but also in actions that glorify God.
What we see in Colossians 3:12-17 reinforces something Paul wrote in the second chapter of this letter: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). We are to live who we are in Christ. As we do this, we won’t be just a little bit grateful. Rather, we will abound in thanksgiving.
Notice that such abundance is not the result of everything being great in life. The Apostle Paul and the Christians in Colossae experienced plenty of challenges, disappointments, and afflictions. In fact, scholars call Colossians one of the “prison epistles” because it, along with Philippians, Ephesians, and Philemon, was written while Paul was imprisoned for his faith. In Colossians 1:24, Paul speaks of “rejoicing in [his] sufferings,” alluding to what he was experiencing as a prisoner. In 4:18 he asks the Colossians to remember his “chains.”
For Paul, gratitude was not a result of an easy life, a life filled with pleasure and free of pain. Rather, gratitude is a response to God’s grace, which touches us even when life is hard. Most of all, our thanks to God comes as a response to what God has done for us in Christ: choosing us, setting us apart, and loving us. Thus, when we live who we are as “God’s chosen ones, holy, and beloved,” we will live gratefully, doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and, in everything, “giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Would you say that you live gratefully, at least most of the time? If so, why? If not, why not?
Can you think of someone you know who lives gratefully? If so, how does this person’s gratitude make a difference in how they live? Why are they grateful?
What helps you to reflect on who you are in Christ?
Set aside some time in the next couple of days to reflect on who you are in Christ: chosen, holy, and beloved.
Gracious God, thank you for choosing us to be your people. Thank you for setting us apart for you and your purposes. Thank you for loving us with fierce and everlasting love.
Help me, Lord, to live who I am in Christ. As I go about the routine of my day, may I continually remember that I am special to you. And may this fact shape how I act and speak.
In every part of life and in all that I do, may I be grateful, remembering your love and grace. May I live who I am today! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Do Everything with Thanksgiving!
Subscribe to Life for Leaders
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.