Instruction Manual


I love using Colossians 3:12-17 as a blueprint for life in Christ. The Philippians passage from Wednesday about always rejoicing can be a little hard sometimes. I know there have been times when rejoicing has been about the last thing I felt like doing.

We know we should rejoice in all things, but we have to figure out how to get there in the first place.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians gives us specific actions we can take in building our lives in holiness.

The first thing he does is remind us who we are:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also do.

(Colossians 3:12-13)

Holy and beloved. That’s what we are. We get lost sometimes in a very different view of ourselves. I'm sure you've realized that it's very hard to build up very much on a foundation that isn't centered on this understanding of who we are.

When you truly know that you are holy and beloved, all the rest follows. We have been forgiven – for no reason other than we are loved. We are treated with compassion and patience. Oh, the patience God has with me! I’m sure if you thought about it for half a second you could say the same.

If we are loved so deeply, and we truly understand that love, then it has to spill out of us. If we can’t seem to feel or own that love, then we can access it by living it out toward others in our own lives.

And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.

(Colossians 3:14-15)

This is not the compassion and forgiveness of someone who lets others take advantage of her. This is not the patience of someone who allows himself to be mistreated and abused. This is the compassion and kindness that doesn’t allow harm to others because love sees through it all and refuses to let the evil overcome. It is a compassion that is controlled by the peace of Christ and not by our fears and hurts.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

(Colossians 3: 16)

All of this is possible if we know God. It is so much easier if we listen to the word of Christ and let it dwell in our hearts. We have the manual. Why do we keep trying to live without it?

I don’t think we should.

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Karen May

Inspirational Catholic Writer and Speaker

based in Austin, Texas