Scripture: Colossians 3:12-17
Observation: Because we’re God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus, Paul encourages us to forgive, to love, to be unified, and to show mercy to others. In whatever we do, he asks us to do it as a representative of Jesus.
Application: When I was a kid, I loved* playing Monopoly.
*By “loved,” I mean enjoyed for the first 30 minutes and then realized there was still about three hours to go and quickly lost interest.
When it came to playing Monopoly, I had a routine: I played with the thimble piece, I was all about owning the railroads, I coveted the opportunity to land on Park Place, and I always, always wanted the “Get out of jail free” card. I hated landing in jail and being sidelined until I could roll doubles! What fun is a game if you don’t even get to participate in it?
But that “Get out of jail free” card was everything; it was permission to keep playing (and hopefully land on that coveted Park Place spot!) and break out of prison. It was freedom.
Have you felt like you were in prison in your own life? Maybe you were imprisoned by your own guilt or shame. Maybe you were imprisoned by a mistake you made years ago, one that continues to confine you – and on your worst days, define you. Maybe you were imprisoned by someone else’s bitterness or refusal to forgive.
In those moments, we crave a “Get out of jail free” card. We crave grace and mercy, forgiveness and healing, anything that will free us from the place we find ourselves.
When Paul talks to the Colossians here, he is talking to a group of people who are free through faith in Christ Jesus. But, many of them still aren’t acting free; they are holding on to their old lives and behaviors. He points them to a new life:
“…you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you” (v. 12-13)
How many times have you imprisoned someone else? Maybe it’s an out-of-control child who doesn’t respond to all of the discipline you’ve tried. Maybe it’s a stubborn spouse who shuts you out. Maybe it’s a distant parent, a tyrant boss, a dishonest friend. Because of their actions, you’ve let bitterness and resentment build up, refusing to forgive and to restore.
That’s why Paul offers these simple instructions: make allowances. Let things go. Strive for peace – no matter how many times you’ve been hurt or what you believe you reserve. We’re called to make allowances not to prove that we’re good, but because the God we serve is so overwhelmingly good.
“…Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (v. 13)
Who do you need to give a “get out of jail free” card to today? Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to love as recklessly and freely as God loves us?
Prayer: God, I pray you’ll soften my heart today. Help me let go of my own bitterness and frustration and instead embrace mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. I pray I can make allowances for each person in my life and forgive as you forgive. Amen.