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 these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
—Colossians 3:12-17, NIV
This passage sounds like a bunch of devotional tripe until you actually try to put it into practice! Have you ever tried to be compassionate at a time when you face an uncaring universe yourself? Have you ever tried to be kind when your office adversaries stab you in the back? Have you ever tried to be humble at a time when you have the distinct feeling that others are using you as a doormat? Have you ever tried to be gentle at a time when injustice has moved you to rage? Have you ever tried to bear with someone who ignores repeated requests not to slurp and chomp so rudely at the dinner table? Have you ever tried to forgive someone who not only wronged you, but got away with it, and still enjoys the fruits of that ill-gotten gain?
This is not devotional tripe for sissies, it is hard to do!
Yet if God has forgiven us of such things, then who are we to hold them against others? Have you not committed all these sins against God? Do you not continue to hold on to some of your ill-gotten gain? Who are you to be a stricter judge than even God?
Now consider the even-tempered person, who finds constructive outlets for outrage and anger; who is unflappable and steady in the wildest storm; who never stoops to return evil for evil; who doesn’t permit his temper to flare up, even in circumstances where others would deem it appropriate to be angry. In that person you see the truth of the Biblical proverb that calm words turn away wrath. That person forges ahead through the storms of life like a giant ocean liner, steadied by an internal gyroscope, slicing through the waves and not being tossed around by them.
I’ve known a few people like that in my life. Oh, if only I were one of them! So I keep my mind fixed on this one goal: to remember in all things that I am mortal, that my life will end, and that all my concerns about food and drink and work and money will end with my life. I try to keep my eyes on Jesus and on eternity (though I admit, I get distracted from time to time). I try to return good for evil, even if it seems at the time to be to my own disadvantage—for if I respond to anger with anger, or to dirty tricks with dirty tricks, or to rumors with slander, I am spreading evil, not combating it. If evil is returned for evil, then evil is propagated and therefore wins, and I am found fighting for the wrong side. God forgive me!
So let us keep our eyes upon Jesus, and take Paul’s not-so-wimpy advice, so that even if we lose in this world, we will gain in the next.