“But now you must get rid of all such things: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:8-10, NRSV)
Sin destroys relationships. It separates us from God, and it alienates us from one another. Wherever sin abounds, relationships suffer. Alcoholism destroys families. Adultery destroys marriages. Envy destroys empathy. Gluttony destroys health. Greed destroys the value of work. Lust destroys our sacred sexuality. And pride destroys our humble reliance upon God. We see the consequences of sin in the trail of broken relationships it leaves behind. That’s why reconciliation is a significant part of salvation. Reconciliation restores what is broken by coming to terms with the hurt and harm done by our sinful actions and making appropriate amends with the offended party. When our sin separates us from God, Jesus steps in as the Great Reconciler, making the necessary amends. Paul said:
“In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NRSV)
Paul makes it clear that the reconciliation we receive through Jesus must pass through us into the lives of those who have sinned against us:
“Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13, NRSV)
It’s easy for us to point to the sins of others as if, somehow, we’re beyond sinning. Yet, we sin more frequently than we realize. In the list of sins above in Colossians 3:8-9, every one of them flows from the words we speak. I’ve heard that we could eradicate 90% of our sins if we never said a word! It’s true—we sin more often through words than through any other means. We like to dress up our gossip as “concern for others.” We describe our angry words as “righteous indignation.” We criticize someone when talking to others but never speak directly to the person we’re bashing. If we repeat a lie enough times, we’ll eventually believe we’re telling the truth. No matter how much we try to justify or excuse our words, we are sinning. It’s as simple as that.
The good news is that we don’t have to remain in our sins. We can choose another path that leads us and others to focus on Jesus Christ instead of the petty objectives at the root of our sinful behaviors. Paul said:
“So, if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3, NRSV)
Join us this Sunday as we learn more about uprooting the sin in our lives that causes a disconnect between God and us, as well as between us and others. And invite a friend!