Summary: If we want to live in harmony, we must put on love, put up peace, put in truth, and put forth Christ
Just this last week, I came across a few lessons that humor columnist Dave Barry says took him 50 years to learn. 1) Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night. 2) If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings.” 3) There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.” 4) Never lick a steak knife. 5) A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (Dave Barry, Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn, http://www.robinsweb.com/inspiration/dave_barry.html; www.PreachingToday.com)
How very true. And though humorous, such lessons can sure save us a lot of grief in life.
In the same way, the Bible has some lessons on relationships that can sure save us a lot of grief in those relationships. There is a path to harmony even in what potentially could be the most divisive relationships. There is a way to come together even when our differences fight to tear us apart.
The Bible talks about the fact that Christ, through the cross, brought many different kinds of people together in one body. So here we are where the potential for discord and destructive conflict is great. But in that context, the Bible also shows us how to get along with each other. So if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Colossians 3, Colossians 3, where the Bible shows us that path to harmony.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
If we want to live in harmony with each other, then first of all we must…
PUT ON LOVE.
We must clothe ourselves with a sacrificial, unconditional commitment to one another. We must dress ourselves with an unwavering dedication and devotion to those in this body.
Love is not a feeling. It’s an act of the will whereby I choose to be kind, I choose to be gentle, I choose to be patient, I choose to forgive (or more literally, to give grace) to you, even if I have a grievance or complaint with you or another brother or sister in Christ.
This is the kind of commitment we must have TOWARDS one another if we’re going to get along WITH one another. Otherwise, we’ll just tear each other apart, especially with all our differences.
The Bible lists seven virtues in these verses: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. Now, seven is the number of perfection in the Bible, so these seven give us a perfect picture of love, the highest of all virtues. More than that, they show us how to come together in “perfect unity.” In other words, if we want to live in perfect harmony with each other, we must put on this perfect love.