by Linda Myers
A few years back, we took a guided hike along the San Andreas Fault. Somehow I ended up in front of the line, leading the way. The guide ran up and said, “You’d better let me in front since I know how to spot snakes that are hiding along the trail. That way I can keep the hikers out of harm’s way.” I didn’t have to be asked twice and quickly fell back into the middle of the group.
We usually know how to stay out of harm’s way physically but it is not always so easy when in comes to our relationships. Colossians 3:8 lists some things that cause harm to our relationships.
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: Anger, Rage, Malice, Slander and filthy language from your lips.-“
I’m using the acronym H-A-R-M-S, which stands for Hurts – Anger-Rage-Malice-Slander.
I added the word hurts because so many of these emotions like anger and rage come from hurts in our lives. There are hundreds of reasons why we become hurt. Hurts may be actual or perceived, large or small, intentional or unintentional. It may stem from something someone said, did or didn’t do. While we are busy concentrating on our hurt, we may forget how deeply we have hurt others.
The anger Paul asks us to take off has to do with tempers, agitation and violent emotion. Too often it involves not getting our way and becoming offended.
Paul wrote about the church in Corinth saying, “I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)
When this intense anger flares up we can’t even see straight. A word picture is a bull that stamps its feet, snorts and seems to breathe fire ready to attack. In a rage, we wildly attack, criticize, and judge what people do, often without having all the facts. The Bible tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. It’s the devil’s job to accuse and criticize. When we do that, we are in agreement with him
Malice is an all-consuming evil mind-set that thinks of evil things to do. It is a wicked and vicious nature that wants something bad to happen to the other person. Sadly, we are too quick to fling darts or arrows at fellow Christians, thereby taking part in the devil’s work.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)
Slander is the word from which we get blaspheme. The slanderer will use filthy and abusive language to belittle other people and cause them to lose their good reputation. They insult people with their speech.
James has much to say about the tongue. “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
Colossians 3:12-15 gives us another way to live in relationship with each other.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
In 1975, John Molloy wrote a book called Dress For Success, which many people who were trying to climb the corporate ladder followed. His advice was to dress like your boss. This is God’s dress code listed in Colossians. It will help us look more like Him and allow us to have better relationships with each other.