“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 one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:13)
With Thanksgiving fast approaching and Christmas on the horizon, memories and plans with family are on the rise. For some, these times are sweet and full, while others find them painful and empty. And then there are those who experience a mix of all emotions.
Family has a varied meaning, almost as unique as a fingerprint, to each of us. So with emotions running high and numerous plans in the works, how should we behave with our own form of family?
Paul wrote many letters from prison, one being addressed to the church in Colossae. In it, he defends the gospel and the supremacy of Christ to a very diverse church body by saying, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11). Paul continues to write and address the audience as “God’s chosen people,” which adds emphasis on who he was writing to as well as what he was saying to them. In this way, Paul called out the main things that were dividing the church: race, religion, education and occupation. He then points out their utter insignificance in relation to the unity we have in Christ.
So whether you plan on spending time with your church family, adopted family, biological family or family of friends these holidays, it is clear that regardless of its divisions, as Christians we are to bear with each other in love and forgiveness.
Paul further explains this type of “binding love” in a letter to the churches in Rome by saying, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. … If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:10, 18). This kind of love is modeled by Jesus and requires conscious choices, actions and sacrifices in relationships.
If you are picturing your upcoming family gatherings, whether they are dressed up with formal foods and conversation or dressed down with a football game on, and wondering how on earth will everyone get along, remember that Christ’s love creates unity! If you are the only one with Christ’s love in your family unit, have hope and don’t underestimate its power as you draw near to Him this holiday season!
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