Summary: Peace and Unity is what identifies a church that is truly following Jesus.
Colossians 3:12–17 (NKJV)
The May 1987 edition of National Geographic included a feature about the arctic wolf. Author L. David Mech described how a seven-member pack had targeted several musk-oxen calves who were guarded by eleven adults. As the wolves approached their quarry, the musk-oxen bunched in an impenetrable semicircle, their deadly rear hooves facing out, and the calves remained safe during a long standoff with the enemy. But then a single ox broke rank, and the herd scattered into nervous little groups. A skirmish ensued, and the adults finally fled in panic, leaving the calves to the mercy of the predators. Not a single calf survived.
Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 that after his departure savage wolves would come, not sparing the flock. Wolves continue to attack the church today but the wolves cannot penetrate and destroy when unity is maintained. When believers break ranks, however, they provide easy prey. (1)
The world is watching every move of the church. Unity in the church is much important now has it has ever been. The world is just waiting for a weak moment, a weak link, a hole in the defense to come in like wolves and decimate the very body of Christ. But unfortunately, the church itself, or rather the members of the church are often their own worst enemy. It is little wonder Jesus spoke often on loving one another. He was not talking so much on how we are to love those in the world as much as He was telling us to love those within the fellowship of believers.
John 13:35 (NKJV) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 (NKJV) This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
So what does this love for one another look like? Paul describes this in our passage today. In our focal passage, Paul lists three different commands. Look in your Bibles: Verse 12 – Put on (fruit of the Spirit); Verse 15 – Let rule (the peace of God); Verse 16 – Let dwell (the word of Christ)
As we approach the Supper Table of our Lord, we need to do so in unity. I just cannot not imagine Jesus would be pleased seeing squabbling among His people at the His table.
Colossians 3:12 (NKJV) Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
You know I love that word “Therefore” For what is Paul drawing a conclusion? He told us in verses 8 and 9 to put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language. Not to lie to one another.
Colossians 3:9–10 (NKJV) Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him
The put off and to put on is the same word used to put on and take off clothes. Therefore:
"as the elect of God, holy and beloved"
As the chosen, the very possession of God, holy, because we belong to Him, and we are beloved by God.
"put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering"
We are to put on the characteristics of the new man. We have seen these words before, Paul tells us that we are to put on and display the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22–23 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
All Christian, true believers and followers of Christ have these qualities within themselves, and since we do, we need to display them in all areas of our life. These are what set us individually apart from the rest the world.
Colossians 3:13 (NKJV) bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
We get the forgiving part. But let we take a minute with the “bearing with one another” part. Bearing one another means to put up with one another. This verse speaks of enduring as the one offended. This not directed to the offender but the one being offended. You see the one offending may have no awareness that an offense had happened. We as a nation become a nation of offended people. We have political correctness because of all the outrageous offenses people perceive against themselves. This offense mentality has also invaded the church. We are offended and we let others know. We get upset and withdrawal. We have our feeling hurt and we want to take our ball and go home. How are we to be a blessing to others in the church, much less those outside the church, if we continually allow ourselves to be offended every time somethings happens that things just do not go our way or someone says something that hurt our feelings?