Blessings in Disguise

“…put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another”
(Colossians 3:12-13)
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The Apostle Paul wrote the Colossians a pastoral letter giving them some practical instructions in how to develop Godly character. These are guidelines which apply to all Christians, including us. They are based on our rela­tion­ship with Jesus Christ. (Colossians 3:1)

An important aspect of this is setting our minds “on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) We need to see things from the perspective of Heaven and eternity — as opposed to being primarily focused on what things look and feel like right now, down here on earth.

Paul tells us to “put to death” and “put off” various kinds of carnal behavior that are sinful and destructive. Among these are sexual immorality, covetousness, anger, and lying. (Colossians 3:5-10) Then he tells us how Christians should live. He says,

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity [love], which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)

Paul sums it all up by saying,

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)

If we can’t add “in the name of Jesus” to what we say — without dishonoring the Lord by doing it — then we shouldn’t say it. Similarly, if we want to do some­thing that Jesus would not want to have His name be associated with, then we shouldn’t do it.

How can we become people who live like that? How can we act that way consistently enough for it to become a normal, habitual part of our life?

When people want to build up physical strength, they need to work against resistance. That’s why people lift weights and do isometric exercises. The process can be uncomfortable at times. That’s why there is the saying, “No pain, no gain.”

The same principle applies to building Godly character. In order to develop patience, we need to be put into situations where patience is required. That gives us the opportunity to develop our “patience muscles.” In order to become more forgiving, we need to have things to forgive. That enables us to strengthen our “forgive­ness muscles.”

In order to become more loving, we need to have people in our lives who are difficult to love. Sometimes that can be quite challenging. When it is, we can ask God to change our hearts and give us His love for those people.

Charles Spurgeon wrote about the importance of loving our neighbors. When discussing the problem of loving difficult people, he said,

“So much the more room for the heroism of love. Wouldst thou be a feather-bed warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love? He who dares the most, shall win the most; and if rough be thy path of love, tread it boldly, still loving thy neighbours through thick and thin.”5

Such trials enable us (by God’s grace) to develop character qualities which will bear good fruit for eternity. If we can get a vision for the valuable end results, then we will be able to see the trials as being helpful. That will enable us to “count it all joy” — to consider it something to be grateful for, rather than a problem to endure. The Apostle James said,

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting [lacking] nothing.” (James 1:2‑4)

Our trials here on earth are so brief compared with eternity. We can ask God to give us that eternal perspective, so that we see them as He does. Then we will be able to understand and appropriate the following statements of the Apostles Peter and Paul:

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”  (1 Peter 4:12-13)

“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

      In some of the Beatitudes, Jesus called some things “blessings” that don’t feel at all like blessings when they happen to us. He said,

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

I know something about mourning, because I’m a widow. After my husband died, God comforted and encouraged me through Scripture and during times of prayer. And I have been able to pass that comfort and encouragement on to other people. The Apostle Paul wrote about something similar, saying,

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3‑5, emphasis added)

Here is another Beatitude that doesn’t feel like a blessing when we face difficult circumstances. Jesus told us,

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”    (Matthew 5:6)

What does it take for somebody to “hunger and thirst for righteousness”? Going through the trial of having to endure unrighteous behavior. This can range from rela­tively mild things to serious crimes. It can involve trau­ma­tic one-time events, or a series of events. It can be something done to an individual or to a group of people.

How could such a thing turn out to be a blessing? I have heard testimonies of men and women who were so appalled by unrighteous behavior that they longed for truth and justice and goodness and righteousness. And they found it — in God. They became Christians. God not only satisfied their longing, He also changed their hearts and made them His children.

Here is another difficult Beatitude. This is hard to endure, but it can result in eternal rewards. Jesus said,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)

Could this be a blessing? Yes. Have you ever met Christians from countries with severe perse­cution? They have a kind of wholehearted love for God that is rare in nations where it is safe to be a Christian. And their zeal for others to know God is so strong that they risk their lives in order to share the Gospel. Their life here on earth is difficult, but they will have great joy in Heaven for all eternity.

God really does bring good out of everything that happens to people who love Him. (Romans 8:28)


5.  Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: A Con­temporary Ver­sion of a Devotional Classic Based on the King James Version (Peabody, Masachusetts: Hen­drick­son Pub­lishers, Inc., 1991), p. 144.


In Disguise

This chapter was posted before the book was professionally edited. As a result, the chapter is somewhat different in the published book.

Copyright 2010 by Maria M. Kneas