March 7, 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.
God’s relationship with you tells you who you are. You are chosen, holy, and beloved. The more you remember this, the more you define your identity by who you are in Christ, the more you’ll be ready to put on his “clothing” and live in his way.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Live Who You Are.
In the classic 1994 film The Lion King, Simba has failed to take his place in the circle of life. He is the rightful king of his land, but is hiding in shame, fearful of accepting his rightful sovereignty. A turning point in the movie comes when a vision of Simba’s deceased father, Mufasa, appears to Simba. Mufasa tells his son that he should become king. When Simba hesitates, Mufasa, sounding very much like James Earl Jones, says, “Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. Remember who you are.”
If the Apostle Paul had seen The Lion King, he might have quoted Mufasa when writing to the Colossians. As he begins his concise exhortation in chapter 3, verses 12-17, Paul says, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves . . . .” If the Colossians are to clothe themselves with a fully Christian way of living, first they need to remember who they are. They are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. When they remember who they are, then they will be ready to live who they are.
Who are they? And, by implication, who are we? Verse 12 discloses that we are “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.” First of all, we are people God has chosen. God wants to be in relationship with us. God wants us to participate in his work in the world. Though we enter into that relationship by receiving the gospel in faith, at a deeper level of reality God has chosen us. As it says in Ephesians 1:4, God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.”
Second, we are holy. This does not mean we are perfect. Nor does it mean we are outrageously religious. Holiness, in the Bible, has to do with being set apart for God. We are holy because God has set us apart from what is common and ordinary so that we might be in relationship with God as well as engaged in God’s mission in the world. We see an illustration of such holiness in the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus “called to him those he wanted . . . . And he appointed twelve . . . to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message” (Mark 3:13-14). Notice that the disciples are not only workers in Jesus’s kingdom mission. First of all, they are to “be with him.” Holiness involves being set apart for relationship with God and then for participation in God’s work.
Third, we are “beloved.” The Greek reads literally, “having been loved.” It’s clear that the agent of this love is God. Not only has God chosen us, not only has God set us apart, but also God has loved us in Christ. And God continues to love us. This love is not dependent on our being unusually lovable. We are not beloved by God because we have done such an amazing job of loving God first. Rather, God’s love, like God’s choosing, is an expression of God’s sovereign grace.
Even as Simba in The Lion King needed first to remember who he was before he accepted his destiny to be king, so we need to remember who we are before we put on the “clothing” of Christ. We don’t try to be good Christians in order to earn God’s favor. Rather, we live out who we are because God’s favor has been given to us through Christ.
It’s wonderful to be chosen, set apart, and loved. This is true, not just in our relationship with God, but in other relationships as well. I can still remember the relief and pride I felt when, as a boy, I was chosen to be on my first Little League baseball team. Many years later, I was moved when listening to a woman at a Laity Lodge retreat who had been set apart to represent the United States in the Olympics. As a pastor, I’ve heard many engaged couples share the joy of being loved by someone special. So, like I said, it’s wonderful to be chosen, set apart, and loved.
We tend to define our identity with reference to a variety of things. Many of us would define ourselves mainly by our work: “I am a teacher. I am a lawyer. I am a pastor.” Others would point to family relationships: “I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am a grandfather.” Still others of us would let our accomplishments tell us who we are: “I got straight A’s. I built a successful business. I am a decorated veteran.” Seeing ourselves in light of such things is not necessarily wrong, but if they give us our fundamental sense of self, then we have lost touch with what matters most. And what matters most of all is how God relates to us. God gives us our core identity.
According to Colossians 3:12 – and so many other passages of Scripture – you have been chosen and set apart by the God who loves you. In fact, God loves you with a unique love that will not let you go (Romans 8:37-39). God’s relationship with you tells you who you are: chosen, holy, and beloved. The more you remember this, the more you know who you are in Christ, the more you’ll be ready to put on his “clothing” and live in his way. In tomorrow’s devotion we’ll start examining the clothing and way of Christ. But, as we do, be sure to remember who you are. Remember who you are!
How do you tend to define yourself? When you think about who you really are, what comes to mind?
When you hear that you are chosen, holy, and beloved by God, what do you think? What do you feel?
Which of these three – chosen, holy, beloved – do you find the most difficult to apply to yourself? Why?
Can you think of a time in your life when you felt deeply loved by God? What happened? What was this like for you?
Talk with a wise friend or with your small group about the things in life that define you, that give you your core identity.
Gracious God, what an amazing thing! To think that I am chosen by you—more than this, I am set apart by you to know and serve you. More than this, I am beloved by you. You love me with a love that will never let me go. How marvelous! How wonderful!
Help me, dear Lord, to remember who I am to you. Help me to see myself this way, to define myself this way. May my identity be deeply connected to you and your relationship with me. 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: Dressed Up for God
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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.