Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Challenge Questions for the New Year

I have been reading Colossians 3:12-17 daily since December 31st. I don’t know how long I will stay with it. There is just so much there to ponder and absorb. In an earlier post, I reflected on the first part of Colossians 3:12. Today I want to focus on the last part of the verse.

Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Imagine what kind of impression we who claim to be Christian would make in the world if we consistently put on these five traits: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness or patience. I must be accountable for how well I demonstrate these in my life.

So here is a list of these traits with some challenge questions for each. The questions are not exhaustive (although I may be exhausted trying to live so that I can answer them as a faithful disciple). Over the next few months I intend to focus on one of these each week in my own life, to be challenged and hopefully changed for the better.

Can I put myself in the place of another so that I don’t just pity them, but seek to understand them?
Will I allow myself to fully experience the pain and heartbreak of another, especially one whose lifestyle, views, or beliefs are different than mine?
Can I experience not only the pain of the victim but also the pain of the perpetrator?
Can I learn to see as God sees, to love as God loves, unconditionally, generously and mercifully?
When I read news accounts, will I refuse to see numbers or enemies and instead see people—people who are mothers, fathers, daughters or sons?
Will I consider who is benefitted or exploited by the consumer choices I make for goods, services and utilities?

Will I be kind to others—all others? All the time?
Can I not only act kindly but also think kindly?
Can I extend kindness to those who have not been kind to me?
Can I be kind to those with whom I disagree?

Will I prefer others over myself?
Will I be honest in my self-assessments, neither overstating my strengths nor playing down the abilities God has given me?
Can I acknowledge that I am capable of good but also capable of evil, yet always loved by God?
Can I be content with the talents God has given me?

Can I be careful with the feelings of others, especially those closest to me?
Will I consider the inadvertent ways I hurt others, by ignoring or forgetting or failing to be compassionate?
Can I be gentle toward others in the words I say, post, or tweet? 
Can I disagree with another without attacking the person, remembering that God loves them as much as God loves me?

Will I be patient with God, patient with others, and patient with myself?
Can I enjoy and appreciate times of inactivity and waiting?
Will I move slower, so I can be more aware of God, more aware of others and more aware of myself?
Can I learn when to work and when to wait?

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