From Distraction to Devotion - by Virgil Stripes
Colossians 3:5-17 (ESV) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Paul certainly knew how to challenge the church back in the early days. He told them to put to death the earthly ways, and put away all anger, lying, blasphemy, filthy talk, etc. Paul then tells them what to replace those things with: compassion; kindness, humility, meekness... We have so many distractions to pull us away from living in holiness today, how do we put to death our earthly desires? We are inundated with so much violence, hatred, and evil in our culture, it is hard to be positive some times. Yet we have God’s promises of life, love, unity, and belonging. Sometimes I just want to crawl into Netflix and disappear into binge watching my favorite shows. Sometimes I want to get away and disappear into the woods. But these are methods of escape, not putting the earthly desires to death. I need to make a concerted effort to think of others before myself. I need to focus on holy, helpful things instead of all the evil and distracting things in the world. I was reminded the other day of a project my wife had asked if I could do for her. I have been so busy doing other things, and nothing, that I had totally forgotten about it. So I got started on it. But this is not how I should be. If I say I am going to do something, I need to schedule a time to work on it. Otherwise, I will bury myself in senseless binge watching and never get done what I said I would do. This is one form of holy living. Putting others ahead of myself. This is what Christ calls each of us to do. Sometimes I think too highly of myself, and lose track of what is important. This is not humility. I need to focus on serving others, especially the bride of my youth. What can you and I do to live in humility, kindness, and compassion? We can pause, look at what Christ did, and then be intentional about following Him. We really can be better at putting others first. We can change. So start easy, try to change one thing at a time. If we try to do too much all at once, it is hard to sustain in the long run.