For the Spring 2016 semester in the student ministry we have been talking about our core behaviors, Connect-Grow-Serve-Go. We spent a couple of weeks talking about Connecting (first to the Lord and then to the Church) and then about a month talking about Growing in the Lord (identity in Christ, putting off/putting on, fighting the fight of faith, and spiritual disciplines). Last night we transitioned to Serve.
To start this series on Serve, we returned to Colossians 3, where we had discussed this as a picture of Growth in the faith, to make the point that the marks of Growth are inextricably tied to the call to Serve brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. To put it plainly, Christian Growth that does not manifest itself through Christian Service is not Christian Growth. Look at Paul’s instructions in this Colossians 3…
Put off: (v.5) Immorality, Impurity, Passion, Evil Desire, Greed, Idolatry; (v.8) Anger, Wrath, Malice, Slander, Abusive Speech; (v.9) Lying
Put on: (vv.12-15) Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience, Tolerance, Forgiveness, Love, and the Peace of Christ
Here is the takeaway. Each one of these vices that Christians are to take off work to the detriment of the people around us. Greed leads me to think only of myself and my wants; Anger causes me to think, speak, and act sinfully toward the people around me; Wrath causes others to suffer just for being around me; Malice, Slander, and Abusive Speech all rip apart the people around me (presumably for my own pleasure or gain).
On the other side, each one of the Christian virtues that Paul calls us to put on work to the benefit of the people around us. Compassion leads me to empathize with others and find ways to work for their good; Kindness leads me away from being Wrathful toward others; Humility causes me to put the needs and concerns of others before my own; Gentleness, Patience, Tolerance, Forgiveness, and Love all work in the end for the good of the people around me. Growth inevitably leads to Service. As I take off the old self with the old attitudes, behaviors, and habits and put on the new self created by the Spirit of God, I am changed markedly.
If the work of God in me is real, the evidence of His work on me will be clear to those around me. They will see it. Even better, they will experience it.