Daily Devotion: The Sanctification Process Revealed through Forgiveness (Colossians 3:12-13)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” ~ Colossians 3:12-13

Explanation of the Text: In continuing through our same text from yesterday, we move from our position and status before God to now the expectations of that. As one who has been chosen by God, not only are there tremendous blessings with that, but there is also tremendous duty. God has asked His followers, in their fullness of commitment to Him, to now live with one another. As F.F. Bruce puts it, “As those who have put on the ‘new man’…..Christians should cultivate and manifest the qualities which are characteristics of him.”[1] The qualities that one are supposed to be clothed in are not merely some random qualities that are considered good and moral by society, but qualities that are from Christ and reflective of Christ. In this list, we find the following characteristics:

  • Compassionate Hearts: Hearts that are soft towards one another. It is emotion toward that person that goes beyond the surface but is deeply rooted in concern for others.
  • Kindness: “Gracious sensitivity toward others that is triggered by genuine care for their feelings and desires.”[2]
  • Humility: It is humility that makes us teachable. Humility is a recognition of who you are apart from Christ, who you are because of Christ, and who you are in Christ.
  • Meekness: Meekness is not mere weakness as the world would say. Rather, it is discernment between appropriate times of being angry and inappropriate times of being angry. The word used here “is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness,[3] not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.”[4]
  • Patience: Patience reflects a nature of self-restraint. Often times we are inclined to immediately react to every situation based on emotions. Patience waits. It waits for emotions to subside, and instead for understanding to kick in so that the response one has is well-balance and reflective of a gentle spirit that is born out of a relationship with God.

Ultimately, these qualities found in verse 12 should lead to the actions that are found in verse 13. If a believer is closed in the character of verse 12, then the result will be that, in genuine care and concern for others, each will bear with one another, forgiving one another as needed. This ultimately comes from the understanding of how you have been forgiven in Christ, not because of your own merits, and in fact, when it wasn’t deserved. We too then, should also forgive others.

Examination & Application of the Text: Ephesians 4:32 reads, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” This is similar to what Paul writes in today’s text, Colossians 3:12-13. Because of who we are in Christ, our desire should be put on these new clothes of character that are found in Him. It is not out of a need to ‘work our way to Heaven’ or because of the ‘have to do this’ mindset in which we feel it must be done because of obligation. Rather, it is because of our love for a forgiving God. It is an expression of heartfelt love, wanting to do all that we can to please Him, because we overflow with love for such a great God.

In reflecting on this text, I start to think about my own life, and I don’t think I am different than anyone reading this. As we look at the desire (and yes, duty) to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, meekness, humility, and patience, I am flooded with situations in which I have not done this at all. I am sure that if we spend time in self-examination, we would see multiple examples in our lives in which we failed to be clothed in the character of Christ. Perhaps there is a need then, to seek forgiveness with others. First, forgiveness with God for not carrying out His will in a right manner and instead offending Him and quite possibly offending others in His name. Second, we should seek forgiveness with those whom we may not have expressed true Christlikeness with. This is a humbling activity, but often times a necessary one. In following through in this, it creates unity through reconciliation with others. Second, it helps in promoting our own sanctification as we seek reconciliation and the desire to turn from doing the same things again.

Praise God for His forgiveness extended to us when we do fail. Praise Him also, for the means He has put into place to help overcome sin through the process of seeking forgiveness.

[1] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), 152.

[2] David E. Garland, Colossians/Philemon, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 210.

[3] Note: Other translations will often translate the Greek word of this text as gentleness. This is because meekness in the English society and culture often denotes weakness, which is not the context in which the word is being used here and elsewhere in Scripture.

[4] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2000), #4240

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