3 1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.
9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilised and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offence. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (The Message).
I had the privilege to read this extract from Steven McDonald, who died six years ago yesterday, but while he was alive he got to tell his story to thousands of teens.
“Survival by Choice
I was on patrol in Central Park and stopped to question three teenagers. While I was questioning them, the oldest, a fifteen-year-old, took out a gun and shot me in the head and neck. . . .
I often tell people that the only thing worse than a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my tragic injury into my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It is bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury.”
That is powerful because I (and I think I can also say ‘we’) don’t find forgiveness easy. Some hurts do not heal easily or quickly. But although we may not feel like forgiving those who hurt us, we can choose to. We have to give it a go: Jesus commands it; He did it – forgiving way more than we will ever have to; and His grace will enable it.
If I am honest, some days I don’t want to forgive. But I often think about the words: ‘Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die!’
Then when I consider the Cross, and God’s great mercy in my life, He has me in ‘checkmate.’ I know that if I am willing to try, He is more than willing to help me to do what He asks. When it comes to forgiving trespasses, He is the Expert!
Prayer: Help,Lord, help! Please help me. You know my wounds and how weak I am, but before your Cross all my excuses are burned to ashes.
Thought: forgiveness is the only way to set your heart free, otherwise you remain imprisoned in a dark, bitter cell.
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