Oranges versus diamonds

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

July/August 2015 Issue – Pursued by Grace,  ‘I know that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love’  (Jonah 4:2)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Colossians 3:1-17 (NIVUK): “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I really do like a lot of the verses, in the reading, set for today – you can tell this by the number that I’ve highlighted. This verse: ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry;’ really makes it clear that, as followers of Jesus, we must put all our efforts into living – free from sin.

Paul’s language is very blunt – put to death our evil desires – is the clear message. Notice, he is not saying that we should try to keep our immorality, lust and greed under control, but that they must be killed off.

True, this may be hard to do, at times of extreme temptation; yet this is the standard set by Jesus. We have a forgiving God to whom we can turn and repent of our evil actions/thoughts/words when we do fail – knowing that if we have honestly repented before God then we will be forgiven.

I also liked the story of the wealthy woman on the Titanic going back to her cabin to fetch oranges and ignoring her diamonds – disaster helps us to focus on what is really valuable.

Selwyn covers this point in his introduction: “For one more day we reflect on the fact that the sailors on the ship headed for Tarshish thought nothing of tipping the whole cargo into the sea when their existence was under threat.

‘Trouble’, it has been said, helps us more than anything to see things in their true perspective.”

I would like to end by combining three verses from our reading: “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity, and do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Now, I think these words are well worth our time, to focus on for at least a couple of days. Do you agree?