Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Virtues

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Source: via Rashida on Pinterest

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV1984)   
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, 
holy and dearly loved, 
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, 
humility, gentleness and patience.  
13 Bear with each other and forgive 
whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  
14 And over all these virtues put on love, 
which binds them all together in perfect unity.

There are a number of virtues listed in this list but it is love that keeps them together in unity.
So lets look at the list of virtues and perhaps we will discover some undeveloped areas that could use a little attention.  Jesus lead us as we tackle this list, give us eyes to see the places we are lacking. Lord I know you love us right where we are today but you are always calling us to come up higher by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to will and to do what you desire.

Compassion: "An attitude of care and concern, grounded in pity and sympathy towards others. Christian compassion towards others should reflect the compassion of God for his people."  
The Dictionary of Bible of Themes  I should care for others like Jesus cares for me.
He understands me. He loves me even with all my faults and failures. He is concerned when I make choices outside of his design because he knows they will come with consequences. He knows what he designed each of us to do and be. He gives us gifts to help us.  He allows me time to figure things out. He makes room for me to be part of what he is doing, even though I bring to the project, a messy dynamic. Much like a little child trying to help mom clean the windows. Yeah I helped but now mom has a wet child to clean up and streaky windows and probably mud tracks from where I got sidetracked and  I thought I should help water the flowers. That child enjoyed helping and did learn a bit about helping and will likely want to help again. We need that kind of hands on training, that says here try this way and allows for personal discovery to take place. God has designed us and knows how we are to work. He knows that be will not be happy or at peace doing things he never designed for us to do. Compassion must be marked by action. It is not just feeling sorry and gossiping about that poor person with someone and calling that prayer and concern. Compassion is saying I know you are struggling let me walk beside you for a while and carry your pack. Let me be a sounding board while you try and sort through this. I can't tell you what to do but we can come up with a plan of things we think might work and give them a try. We probably will need to adjust some things but we can celebrate the little victories as we work together to over come the trials and difficulties that we face on our life journey.  Ephesians 4:32 (NIV1984) 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Kindness: "The quality of compassion and generosity, characteristic of God’s dealings towards the weak and poor, and demanded of believers. The kindness is also shown in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ."The Dictionary of Bible of Themes  I need to look around and remember how God has been kind to me. He shows me kindness even when I don't deserve it. Even when I have not lived up to his expectation or example. He realizes I am weak, poor and broken, he knows I have limits. Some things will remain broken till I become strong enough for God to help me deal with that. I may have some poor vision and need corrective surgery, I may need a knee or hip replaced but God and any good doctor is going to deal with that or, that bleeding, infected wound first.

So did you know that failure to  acknowledge Gods kindness is a sin? Hmm so I should probably try to recognize and acknowledge the kindness of others as well.  Romans 2:4 (NIV1984)
4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Oh wait did you get that - what leads me to repentance is not someone holding up a picket sign, or screaming what a rotton person I am, or throwing accusations like rocks. It is not kicking someone when they are down. It is not lording my rightness over someone and demanding they do it my way or the highway. Dealing with people like that is rooted in insecurity not in love.  God's kindness leads us to repentance. God gave us a free will and so he will not make us do things his way. He leads us, he sends us examples, he inspires us. He is kind to us and there for we are more apt to listen to what he has to say.

Humility "An attitude of lowliness and obedience, grounded in the recognition of one’s status before God as his creatures."The Dictionary of Bible of Themes  
James 4:6 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud
   but gives grace to the humble.”  Just when you were polishing up your humble button and thinking it means to be a door mat to others. Its a command  1 Peter 3:8 (NIV1984)
  8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble" These are qualities that do not grow off on our own but grow as we have to live and deal with people. It means that my opinion is not the only one in the room, my way is not the only way. It mean I can't just storm off with my toys when I don't get my way. It means allowing someone else a chance to shine. If the goal is to live in harmony it does not mean we all must play the same note. To do so makes for boring uninteresting music. Sadly it is a problem for most churches. We set about to find people just like us rather that embracing each others differences. We don't need a church of all hands and no hearts. We all have different gifts, callings, and functions with in the body. Humility is recognizing how we fit it to Gods bigger plan and design and making room for others to find their place as well.   
Gentleness: "An expression of compassion, seen in God’s dealings with the frail and weak, and expected of believers in their dealings with others". The Dictionary of Bible of Themes 
Dang it, I guess that leaves out throwing stones and demanding that others do things my way. 
James 3:17 (NIV1984) 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."
How does God deal with us in our weakness? How do we want God to deal with us when we mess up? Might be some clues there in how he would have us deal with others.

Patience: "The quality of forbearance and self-control which shows itself particularly in a willingness to wait upon God and his will. Believers are called upon to be patient in their expectations of God’s actions, and in their relationships with one another."  We are so used to fast food, instant gratification, sit coms that solve big problems in thirty minutes or less. Now this verse today tells me that I have to be willing to wait upon God and his will and I have to wait and be patient with others too. This is when you need to remember that we can't really do any of this with out the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. So before you go off feeling like a dejected worm of a failure. Lets ask God to come in and help us with all of these virtues.

So here's the kicker. "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. " Christianity was never ment to be walked out in isolation. Nor is it good if everyone is just like me. When we have a grievance we need to go to that person and try to work it out. If that does not work we take a friend to help mediate. If that does not work we go to our church leadership and ask for help. We may have to take a time out to allow each other to process but we have to come back and continue to work it out til we can come to a place of peace and resolution. Sadly how we do church is when we get offended or don't get our way we just go find another church were the people are more like us.  I can't see my own blind spots and neither can you. Sometimes one foot has to say to the other - hey you are stepping on me.

Well... not the exhaustive study on any of these virtues. Heres the link back to our passage at Bible Gateway. Colossians 3:12 -14  In the right hand corner across from the verse are the words "Show Resources" That gets you to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, the commentaries. Theres a lot of great resources to help you dig a little deeper. Its time that we begin to learn how to pick up the spoon and feed ourselves. You alone will stand before God regarding your personal spiritual growth. Its not your pastors job to do it for you. God is massive - there are endless treasure and things about Him to discover. Your life as a believer should never be dull - there is plenty to do and always more to discover. Quit waiting for other to do it for you. Get off the bench and into the game. Ask the Holy Spirt to train, teach and lead you into all truth.

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