Faith Is More than Just the Bad Stuff I Don’t Do
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. Colossians 3:12-13
To recover from an addiction, we must do more than just stop consuming the drugs and alcohol. The chemicals are just a symptom of a much greater problem. Our primary problem is that we are, by nature, terribly selfish creatures. We do what we want, when we want, and the drugs or alcohol are just the most obvious manifestation of our self-addiction. Simply getting sober, though necessary, doesn’t mean we’ve recovered. We can stop drinking and still be profoundly self-centered people. To recover means our entire lives must be transformed. In recovery we must stop using, but we must also stop pursuing ourselves, learning to follow something beyond our own appetite. To truly recover, we must continually work on trading the old life in for the new one.
It’s the same with our faith. When we come to God, he does often ask us to surrender certain self-destructive behaviors. The mistake though, is to think that if we don’t do any really bad stuff anymore (or we never did), that we’re living the perfect Christian life. Faith, like recovery, is more than just all the bad stuff we don’t do. We may never smoke, drink, gamble, swear, have an affair, or rob a bank, but we can still be judgmental, hateful, prideful, condescending, fake Christians.
In today’s passage, Paul had just finished telling the Colossians they must abandon evil. Then, he completed the command by telling them the Christian life isn’t just about not doing bad. It’s also about doing good. It’s about loving and forgiving others as Christ has loved and forgiven us. As Christians, we must continually choose to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, and forgiving.
The problem is that we don’t naturally feel like being kind, loving, and forgiving. We can’t wait until we feel like it to do good though. We couldn’t wait until we felt like not drinking to get sober. We had to do it, even when we didn’t feel like it. Then, after obedience and hard work, God changed our appetite so that we didn’t want to be intoxicated anymore. It’s similar in our Christian walk. God rarely just makes us always feel like being compassionate and humble. No matter. We must work at it every day. In being obedient – choosing to be kind, loving, and forgiving – we’ll find that God changes our nature so that we eventually want to be what he made us to be.