Developing Christian Relationships

MEMORY VERSE: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” —Colossians 3:12,13

COLOSSIANS 3:12-25; 4:1-6

AN ESSENTIAL characteristic of the child of God is the development of the graces of the Holy Spirit; and the Apostle Paul, in his message to the brethren at Colosse, enumerates some of these features as an important element of their Christian maturity.

The new creature in Christ Jesus, who has been chosen and set apart by God for the particular purpose of joint-heirship with our Lord in his millennial kingdom, is admonished in the preceding verses of this chapter (3:5,8,9), to put off the works of the “old man”—which includes fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness (idolatry), together with anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, and lying—and to put on, instead, the “new man” which includes mercy, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, and above all (vs. 14), love. It is of utmost concern to us then, that we consider these evidences of the “new man.”

Kindness is an important manifestation of a Christlike spirit. The heart that has learned to make allowances for the inherited weaknesses of others will be kindly tolerant and helpful toward them even if it means that it is at the expense of self-interest. Examining the word kindness we find that it carries the thought of sympathy, gentleness, and affection—along with a desire for the welfare of others. The attitude of kindness, therefore, will be shown in the thoughts as well as the words and actions of the consecrated child of God.

Concerning humbleness, or “lowliness of mind,” it has been said that if any man has considered that he has attained a satisfactory spiritual state, then from that moment he may date the beginning of his spiritual decline. We are, on the other hand, admonished to recognize that others may possess certain talents and qualities of character that are superior to our own. The apostle would have us be very careful to develop a sober estimate of our own worth.

Meekness implies an emptying of self-will, self-confidence, and self-assurance—with a patient submission to the divine will. Those who are alert to the dangers to the new creation, together with a realization of their own deficiencies and lack of wisdom, will be better prepared to receive the guidance and instruction that has been provided in God’s Word.

Longsuffering may properly be regarded as patient endurance with perseverance. It is the quality of a Christlike spirit that indicates a degree of self-discipline, as well as strength and courage in the narrow way. It is necessary for the child of God to receive experiences and trials that will develop in him faith, establishment in righteousness, and correction for faults. The most progress will be made by those who willingly submit themselves to the Heavenly Father’s chastening providences in full assurance of faith.

Forbearance is the grace of being lenient and patient toward the weaknesses and imperfections of others. Realizing that we, too, are fallen sinful creatures and have no standing before our Heavenly Father except through the merit of our Lord’s sacrifice, we should be very careful not to expect from others what we cannot give them in return.

The attitude or willingness to forgive is an important part of the Spirit of Christ because it suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in receiving back into fellowship one who may have offended us in some way or another—not forgetting that we should forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake bath forgiven us—Eph. 4:32

And above all these things, the apostle points out (vs. 14), “put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.” Although this passage follows the text which is under consideration, it nevertheless sums up all of the other graces of the Holy Spirit and suggests the crowning glory of the development of Christ likeness. As love is the direct result of having received of the Spirit that comes from above, and is the fulfilling of the law, even so will the consecrated child of God endeavor to cultivate and manifest this particular grace.

The Apostle Paul provided valuable instruction in his message to the church at Colosse; and we, who are living down here at the end of the Gospel-Age harvest, may meditate upon this counsel and rededicate our lives to the development of the Christian graces of the Holy Spirit by seeking a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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