What is the biggest stress creator in your life? You may say money, or work, or school... but the bottom line is that when your most critical relationships are in chaos, life is just not much fun. When you are experiencing disharmony, disunity, division in your marriage or your family, life can get really discouraging really fast. We need peace in our relationships in life! Peace is finding and maintaining unity in my relationships. The Apostle Paul says, 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, Colossians 3:15. So how do we do that? In Colossians 3:1-15, we learn how to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts!
1) Shift my focus upward! (Colossians 3:1-4)
Setting our hearts and minds on things above takes effort and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Naturally, we tend to focus on what is right in front of us, at eye level. At eye level is our “earthly nature”; it’s culture’s character, which conflicts with Christ’s character. At eye level are values screaming at us, like: “Get even”, “Hold grudges”, “take revenge”, “protect yourself”, “guard your interests”. These “earthy” values clearly conflict with what is “above.” This is why if peace is going to rule in my heart, I start by shifting my focus on what is above.
2) Die to self. (Colossians 3:5-7)
As Believers, we are called to “put to death” the vices of the world and culture which take our eyes off the things above. The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament and it is critical for living at peace with God and others. Dying to self is both a one-time event (justification) and a lifelong process (sanctification). Believer’s baptism symbolizes the death of the old life and the beginning of a new life in Christ. (Rom. 6:4; Gal 2:20)
3) Examine and rid myself of actions that don’t reflect Christ’s heart and mind. (Colossians 3:8-10).
“Rid yourself” in the original language is like taking off a filthy, sweaty work or workout shirt. You wouldn’t shower and get cleaned up, then put that same dirty shirt back on, would you? Of course not! If we are going to let peace rule in our hearts, then it is imperative to take a close look at ourselves and get rid of any of these vices.
Anger - 31 Get rid of all bitterness, Eph 4:31. The idea here is not a reference to righteous anger, but letting anger turn to bitterness, which can take deep root in relationships and causes serious peace problems.
Rage - 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19-20. This is anger out of control, like an erupting volcano burning bridges and everything in its path!
Malice - Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 1 Peter 2:1. This word refers to the damage that is caused by evil words which can’t be taken back - like toothpaste from a tube!
Slander & filthy language - 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:10.
If I am going to let the peace of Christ rule in my life, I have to examine myself and with the help of the power of the Holy Spirit, get rid of these filthy characteristics.
4) Put on the fresh, clean, new virtues that Christ offers me! (Colossians 3:12-15)
Compassion - 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Luke 6:36-37. Jesus goes on to tell us to stop being concerned about the speck in our brother’s eye while paying no attention to the log in ours!
Kindness - 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is... kindness, Galatians 5:22. The Spirit can soften our rough edges... like polishing the edge of freshly cut glass to avoid a cut or sanding the edge of a fresh cut piece of wood to avoid a scrape.
Humility - 3 ...in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3. This is a term that was coined by the Apostle Paul and other Christians to describe a primary characteristic of Jesus Christ Himself! A good question to always ask is: “Do I really need to win this?”
Gentleness (Meekness) - 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5. This is a willingness to suffer injury or insult rather than inflict it.
Patience (Longsuffering) - 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16. This is the opposite of quick temper and it is exactly how Jesus acts toward us!
Forgiveness - 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:15. Never forget how much God has forgiven you.
Love - 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14. Love covers all!
The key to peace doesn’t lie with others, it lies with you! Ask God to teach you how to follow His instruction to “let the peace of Christ” rule in your life!