Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. (Colossians 3:12-13 NET)Paul reminds us in these verses to focus on who we are in Christ. He reminds us that we are “the elect of God” or “chosen of God” depending on your translation. He also describes us as “holy and dearly loved”. These descriptions are humbling and exalting at the same time. They emphasise God’s call of the believer from the mass of lost humanity to be His specially loved people. This is true for every believer, even the ones who cause us the most discouragement. When we are discouraged with another believer, we need to remind ourselves of these truths. We must focus on these truths and we must also fear dishonouring these truths.
Paul says we are “holy”. This means we are set apart to live exclusively for God’s purposes and for His glory. It means maintaining moral purity and living out the character of Christ in our relationships with others.
I know for me, many times my discouragement with others is self-centred. I am discouraged because they have let me down, made mistakes that frustrate me, or in some cases have hurt me in some way. I’m discouraged by this when my focus is on my comfort and how I want things to be. But, being called out of the world and called to God means we no longer live for ourselves, but “for Him who died and gave His life for us” (2 Cor. 5:15). This is an exclusive calling we’ve been called to. Living exclusively for God, His purposes, desires, and glory, means I am not living for mine.
When people get me discouraged by their behaviour because it makes me uncomfortable, I need to remind myself that I am not here for my comfort. I am here, exclusively, for God’s glory. I cannot let them get me down or impact my behaviour in any way that I dishonour our mutual calling in Christ.