One morning during last football season I noticed on the top of the Charlotte Observer one sportswriter’s synopsis of the Carolina Panthers football team’s loss at Tampa Bay, “The Panthers have gotten good at being a bad football team.” The truth is I doubt that many of the Panthers’ fans would disagree with the sentiment because it is easier to criticize than to praise. Looking closer at the players, one writer made the statement that the Carolina Panthers do not have adequate materials in their body of players to be consistent winners. Thus, the owners, coaches and players have to find out why not.
To parallel churches, we find that their spiritual health have by far declined in the last two to three decades. The primary reason is that the members have turned from their love of Jesus Christ or maybe never have known Him. Many churches are much like those described by the Apostle Paul where he said, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? (Gal. 3:1, NKJV).
In Colossians 3:12-14 the Apostle Paul provides instructions on what is necessary to become what God wants the church of the elect of God to be.
A. Put on Tender Mercies - The Greeks use the term "bowels of compassion" because the Greek people located the deeper emotions in the intestinal area, while we toward one another.
B. Put on Kindness - We have been saved because of God's kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. We in turn need ought to show kindness toward others.
C. Put on Humbleness of mind - The pagan world of Paul's Day did not admire humility; instead they admired pride and domination. Jesus is the greatest example of humility. Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself. Rather, it is having the proper estimate of oneself in the will of God.
D. Put on Meekness - Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. This word is used to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. A wind can become a storm, the medicine can kill, and a horse can break loose and be violent. Humility and meekness are very rare virtues in Christians.
E. Put on Long-suffering - The word is literally "long-temper". The short-tempered person speaks and acts impulsively and lacks control. A long-suffering person can put up with provoking people without retaliating. "I got that person told - I just gave them a piece of my mind" attitude.
F. Put on Forbearance - This word literally means "to hold up" or "to hold back."
G. Put on Forgiveness - It is not good enough that the Christian endure grief and provocation and refuse to retaliate, he must also forgive. It is Christ-like to forgive and forgiveness opens the heart to the fullness of the love of God.
Paul concluded with love. This is the most important of the Christian virtues, and acts like a "girdle" that ties all the others together. All of the spiritual qualities that Paul has named are aspects of true Christian love.
When love rules in our lives, it unites all these spiritual virtues so that the beauty of the Christian life overflows.