Responsive Reading: Colossians 3:5-17
Key Verse(s): Colossians 3:14-15
Background Scripture: James 5:10-11, 13-20
When life is trying to hinder and defeat us, we have seen that we have God on our side and He has given us sources of strength to draw from to be able to endure and persevere. Last week, we saw that God has given us a source of strength by giving His peace through His only begotten Son. In my sermon this week, we are going to see that we have a source of strength through what Paul refers to as a bond of perfection.
The Bond of Perfection
Over my last five sermons, now six including this one, I have encouraged you to live for the better. We have seen that we should live for the better by realizing that we are in control of our lives, so therefore, we are in control over the choices that we make. With the decisions that we can make, we have seen that we should choose God over everything if we truly desire to live for the better.
God’s help in life
Yet, choosing to live by the instructions of God does not mean that life will have no difficulty. The genuine believer will still have trials and tribulation; we will have afflictions and those that stand in opposition against us. Living for the better is actually incredibly difficult because of life itself but it is not impossible.
With life being incredibly difficult, the Lord has not left us helpless nor has He left us to tackle life all alone. No, God has given to us His only begotten Son whose grace, by faith, we live under. Jesus said that He is our good shepherd and as our good shepherd, He said that He knows us by name, cares for us, protects, and provides for us (John 10:11-15). So, as we are the sheep of His pasture, we should be totally dependent on Him.
God has not only given us His only begotten Son but He has also given us the Holy Spirit whose voice we ought to heed every day of our life. Let us remember that the Holy Spirit has been given to guide us through the ups and downs of life (John 16:13). So, as we saw last week, the Lord has given Himself to be a source of strength that we can rely on to be able to persevere through life.
The help we need
Now, the Lord did not stop there when it came to supplying us the help and strength we need to be able to persevere through life. I will reference one of our favorite teachings of Christ in which He said that we should love the Lord with all of our heart, and likewise, we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). You see, there is so much power and strength that we overlook in this statement of faith from Christ. Let me explain what I mean.
Loving God and loving our neighbors is the foundation of our faith; it is the source of strength that upholds us. In our key verse, Paul calls love the bond of perfection. Perfection, by the way, is freedom from fault or defect; it is flawlessness. So the love that Paul was speaking of was without stain or blemish, which to me is very important for us to know.
As you will often hear me point out about love, the love Paul was speaking of was not the love based on worldly doctrine but based on the love that is of God. To the Corinthians, we know that Paul said that the love of God is not based on ego or pride, but rather, it is selfless (1 Cor. 13:4-10). To the Colossians, we will see Paul speak to how one truly goes about loving another, so let us pay close attention to what he says here.
Paul said that in order for us to love, we must put to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (Col. 3:5). Paul then stated that we must also put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language (Col. 3:8). Lastly, in order for us to truly love, Paul called for us not to lie to one another since lying was the way of our old man which, by genuine faith, we should have put off (Col. 3:9).
Stronger Together Than Apart
So, when Jesus called for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we should have a clearer understanding of how to do so. When we remove things like anger, wrath, malice, evil desires, and covetousness away from us, we can come closer together and form strong bonds. This coming together out of true love forms what we would call fellowship with one another.
The call for fellowship
Fellowship with the Lord, we know, is a strong source of strength. Yet, at the same time, we must recognize that fellowship with each other is a very powerful source of strength that we should draw from to help us endure and persevere through life. Again, I say to you, God did not leave us helpless nor has He left us to tackle life alone. We need Him, and at the same time, we need each other!
You would see in his first epistle that John spent a great deal of time focusing on the bond of perfection – love and fellowship. John wrote and encouraged others to join and be in fellowship with the Lord and those who genuinely believed (1 John 1:3-4). Why did he do this? John did this because he knew the power and strength we can draw from each other as we make our way through life.
By being in fellowship with the Lord and with each other, John stated that our joy would be full. So, if you truly desire to live for the better, and be happy and joyful, what should you do? Love the Lord and love each other; the bond of perfection is one that uplift you to higher heights that the world simply is incapable of doing.
Love makes you do crazy things
Scripture points out a very drastic difference between love that is of worldly doctrine and love that is of God that we must understand.
Worldly love has caused many people to grow envious and jealous of others; it has led many people to playing with the hearts and the emotions of others. Frankly, love that is of worldly doctrine can be incredibly dangerous and incredibly toxic. I am sure you have heard that old saying that states, “love can make you do some crazy things”. Some would tell you there isn’t much wrong with jealousy, envy, anger, and filthy language out of the name of love; they would say that there is nothing wrong with ‘acting out’ if you are doing it in the name of love.
Think about how crazy this thought on love is just for a moment: people have killed in the name of “love”. People have gotten into fights, caused physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual damage all in the name of “love”. You see, worldly love moves on the principle of one’s own self-interest and selfish desires.
One cannot be so selfish and think that they are going to be happy and joyful at the end of the day. No, in that end, people are just torn apart and there is no growth when we are damaged and torn apart in such a manner. Understand today that we are stronger together – in the bond of perfection – than we are apart!
So, the difference is that the love of God encourages us to be careful about how we speak to one another and how we treat each other. The love of God does not call on us to act irrationally out of love! Let us remember the golden rule: “Whatever you want [others] to do to you, do also to them (Matt. 7:12)” – this is the love of God!
So, later in his epistle, on the thought of love and fellowship, John wrote that the message that we have heard from the beginning is that we should love one another and not be like Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother (1 John 3:11-12). Cain, rather than loving his brother, killed him when the Lord desired for Cain to stop thinking about just himself.
Cain killed his brother because he was self-centered. This was made clear to us when he was asked by God where Abel was after he had killed him; Cain’s response was apathetic and self-centered. Cain asked the Lord, “Am I my brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:6-9)?” He was being smart about it but yes, he was certainly supposed to be his brother’s keeper just as Abel was to be his keeper.
Repeatedly throughout scripture we are called to be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love and to let brotherly love continue (Rom. 12:10). You and I, we should understand, are to be each other’s keeper! The proverb said, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Prov. 27:17).” We are to look out for one another and always be ready to help each other! This is the true bond of perfection: to keep one another!
Paul called on us, as the elect of God, to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering to bear with one another, and to forgive each other (Col. 3:12-13). Again, to reiterate the point, we are to be the keepers of one another in brotherly love. As John said, “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us (1 John 4:12).”
Collective prayer can fix things
There are gifts (benefits) to the bond of perfection that I wish to share with all of you so that we can understand this source of strength we can be for each other.
To start off with, in his letter, James called for us to take the prophets as an example of the love we should have (Jas. 5:10); they moved with patience to bear with others.
From James’ thought, I think of Moses who, yes, would get very frustrated with the children of Israel but he still loved them dearly. From love, Moses interceded on their behalf after they built the calf of gold and worshiped it (Ex. 32:11-14, 30-34). God was ready to move on from them but because of Moses’ love, God kept His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He still led the children of Israel to the Promised Land.
With this in mind, we will see James encourage us to love one another and see to the needs of each other. First, James said, when we are in trouble that we should pray for ourselves, and if we are cheerful we should sing out in songs and rejoice (Jas. 5:13); these things we can do ourselves.
However, since we are not in this world alone nor are we tackling life by ourselves, James said that if one is sick or in trouble, they should be prayed for (Jas. 5:14-15). James called on the elders of the church to pray over the sick and to anoint their heads as a form of medical treatment. Again, James was calling on brotherly love and fellowship.
For all of us today, in our bond of perfection, we should do no less; we should always be praying for each other in sickness, in trials, and in tribulation. Praying for each other is so powerful yet collective prayer – when we all pray together for each other – is so undervalued in the body of Christ. Collective prayer, Paul said to the Corinthians, is able to deliver us from troubles and burdens beyond measure (2 Cor. 1:8-11).
In his letters, Paul would repeatedly thank those who wrote to for their collective prayers because they helped to lift him up over so many obstacles. We should not undervalue the power of prayer! I have witnessed the power of the collective prayer of a congregation save and deliver!
Personally, I know what collective prayer has done in my life and I am so thankful for the collective prayers I received over the years of my great struggle. I do not believe I would be here today if I did not pray for myself, but at the same, did not have all of you praying for me. I believe that if you truly love someone, one of, if not the most powerful things you can do for them is pray for them. As James said, the fervent prayer of the righteous avails much (Jas. 5:16).
Talking things out can heal
Also, in the bond of perfection, if we truly love someone, James said we should talk to each other; there is much power and encouragement in talking to each other. Specifically, James stated that we should confess our trespasses to each other (Jas. 5:16). The idea here is that we should help take the weight of guilt and burdens off each other’s shoulders.
So many of us have guilt from the things we feel and believe we have done wrong, which gets us into the topic of forgiveness. Let us remember that John said that if we confess our sins to the Lord that God is both faithful and just to forgive (1 John 1:9). Jesus taught us that if one wrongs us, we should rebuke them, listen to them, and if they repent of the wrong doings, we should forgive them (Luke 17:3-4).
Confession is good. Being able to vent is good. Encouraging each other with whatever it is that we are going through is good as well. I truly believe that just being someone’s ear can do so much to help others with making it through life. Just being able to open up and talk and listen can heal so many wounds and can also ease so many burdens.
Again, we are stronger together than apart! Love is a strength! The bond of perfection is powerful! There is so much power and strength that we could give to each other if we took the time to support one another. When we support each other, all of us can live peaceably – for the better – and rejoice at the end of the day!
The Bond of Perfection Saves
Our fellowship, the bond of perfection, as James, Paul, and even Christ said, is able to save. The peace I spoke of us fighting to attain in my sermon last week, must now be put to use. As Paul said in my key verse, the peace of God should rule in our hearts; we should be guided by it, speak from it, and act out of it. In other words, we should be moving by grace (love).
To the Ephesians, out of the bond of perfection, Paul encouraged that we should let no corrupt word proceed out our mouths; we should let what is good for “necessary edification” come out of us so that it may impart grace (Eph. 4:29). Our bond, our fellowship, is all about uplifting, supporting, and helping — this is true love, how it is supposed to work. Frankly, this is the true love I wish was practiced and celebrated around the world not just for a day but for everyday.
In the end, we can only truly live for the better if we’re at peace within ourselves and at peace with all of those around us. Will you abide by and move by this bond of perfection?