The Christian Wardrobe

Scripture Text: Colossians 3:12-17

 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. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

INTRODUCTION

Last week we talked about “Spiritual Stripping” but tonight we talk about something more delightful, putting on a believer’s outfit. I had rather talk about what we put on than what we take off. When it comes to covering the shame of my flesh, more is better. I want to be fully clad, dressed or covered. Here is a list of the things that Paul tells us to “Put on”.

  1. We are to clothe ourselves with A HEART OF COMPASSION. The NLT translates it “Tenderhearted Mercy”. The AV reads “Bowels of Mercy.” In the ancient world the bowels were associated with inner feelings. The one thing that we all feel is the activity of the bowels. When they are agitated or moving, it is something you feel on the inside. Compassion is something we feel on the inside. We have a little girls in our church family that has spinal bifida and we went to see her in a baseball game last night. She and about 6 others swing the bat from their wheel chair and then roll around the bases. Many of the children suffered from Down Syndrome or other things that challenge them mentally. They have no umpires; no outs are recorded. Everyone hits, runs, scores and is cheered on by the entire crowd. The thing that really impressed me, was the way they celebrated with each other over what we would define as a minor accomplishment. Every thing is big in their world. There are no little things. I was moved with compassion. I could not even speak to my wife as we drove out of the parking lot: my heart was full of emotion. I wrote in my daily blog that it was good to be stirred. I needed to see that game. My heart grows cold and that warmed it up. It was good for my soul. We need to put on a heart of compassion.
  2. We need to put on KINDNESS, moral goodness in word and deed. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It could be something as simple as a smile or a friendly greeting but we usually associate it with a deed. Back in the 90’s when I was a student of Seven Habits, I put an act of kindness on my to-do list. My goal was to do one act of kindness per day. Of course I was trying to establish this as a habit. We humans tend to think of “Great Things” or “Big Things.” Things that would make the headlines or the evening news but in God’s kingdom, it is the little things that go unnoticed which are big. A good example is found in Luke 21:2 where Jesus notices a widow woman who gave two small copper coins which is less than a cent. We would frown on anyone who gave a penny, let alone less but Jesus commended her because it was all that she had and He said she had given more than all the others. Wow! Don’t concentrate on doing big things that bring notoriety, concentrate on doing small acts of kindness that no one even notices other than Jesus.
  3. The 3rd thing we put on is HUMILITY. Humility is not thinking little of yourself, it is not thinking about yourself at all. It is 1st base in the Kingdom of God. If we don’t touch 1st, we cannot possibly score. Humility is fundamental to everything we do: Worship, Ministry, Fellowship, Evangelism, Mission, etc. Humility is the most elusive virtue. The opposite side of humility is pride and pride disqualifies us from meaningful service in God’s kingdom. I have known highly gifted preachers who struggled with pride. I made a Freudian slip last Sunday and everyone laughed at me. It was a bit embarrassing but I laughed it off and moved on. I saw the same thing happen to a famous preacher some 40 years ago and he got offended and retaliated. Humility is tough and the greater our success the tougher if becomes.
  4. Next Paul says, we put on GENTLENESS. The AV translates it “Meekness”. The Greek πραότης (praotēs) is used 9 times in N.T. and the AV translates it meekness every time. The NASB consistently translates this word “Gentleness”. It can be translated meek, mild or gentle. My New Testament Professors in seminary said that it was the word used to describe a gentle horse. In other words, meekness is not weakness but strength under control.
  5. Next we put on PATIENCE.  The Greek word is μακροθυμία (makrothymia),
    which occurs 14 times in 14 verses in the Greek concordance of the NASB. It means slow to get angry and is used generally in reference to people. People are more likely to agitate us than circumstances. The slow line at Walmart is usually personnel related or an unhappy customer.
  6. Next we put on TOLERANCE which is the grace of allowing for each others faults. No one is perfect. Whereas this is true, it is not an alibi. We should strive for perfection. We are not talking here about accepting adultery, fornication, greed, drunkenness or sexual perversion. We are talking about the fact that no human is without flaw; we all have our strengths and weakness. A church that demands a perfect pastor could neither find one or keep one. In 99% of marriages, one spouse has quirks that annoy the other. Marriage can only work when we tolerate each other. The same is true with church work. I know pastors who were great at ministry but horrible at confrontation. They idea of handling conflict was to look for another church. I’ve known churches who had great pastors but they were weak in the pulpit. They did such a great job on the pastoral side that the congregation made allowance for their weakness in the pulpit.
  7. The next thing we put on is FORGIVENESS. You don’t need a definition or the exposition of the Greek word, you know what forgiveness is and what it is not. Jesus never made “forgiveness” an option for His followers. He simple said, “If you don’t forgive each other, My Father will not forgive you.” How can I reconcile that we grace? I can’t and I don’t have to. I believe that if you are a child of God that He will give you the grace to forgive which literally means to let go. For years, I took great pride in my ability to forgive but I had deceived myself: the exact opposite was true. I was holding on to things from my childhood, high school days and since. I’ve had people tell me over and over that they had forgiven a certain person when I knew that had not: simply because they are still talking about it. Forgiveness is letting go. Give it to God. Our fear is that the offence we took personally will not warrant His attention or Judgment. So we refuse to let God have it. To us, it is a form of control and it gives us the assurance that all is not forgotten and justice will be served one way or the other.
  8. Now we get to the overcoat which is LOVE. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. {V.14}. Love binds us together, it closes the net. Love gets us tight. We come together. When we come together, we have unity. When we love and give preference to each other, we have harmony. I know a church named Unity, it is a split, off of a split, off of a split. Junior Hill tells about the story of driving through a small town in the Bible Belt. He saw three churches by the name of Harmony. One was simply Harmony Baptist Church, the second was New Harmony Baptist Church and the third was Greater New Harmony Baptist Church. The fact these three churches had no unity makes you wonder if they had any harmony.
  9. It keeps getting better, next we put on PEACE. This peace which comes when we trust Christ completely will umpire [rule] our life. It will guide us and blow the whistle if we get out of bounds. A man called me just yesterday with a problem. He was very stirred up and I listened for a while and then I said to him. “This is a problem but it is not really your problem. It is an associational problem [70 churches]. Obviously, it had you upset to the point that I fear for you. I want you to calm down and give this problem to the Lord and to the others who are addressing it.” He was not convinced and I felt that my advice was ignored. I got a phone call today and he said, “I heard what you said, I have met with the person in question. We sat down and worked everything out. I am not happy with the decision and I think it was the right one.” I don’t know for a fact that the decision is right or wrong but I do know this, God is sovereign and He is always is control even when we exercise our free will. Our responsibility is to obey HIM and that is it. The outcome of things is not our responsibility. The man’s peace was disturbed because he had assumed God’s responsibility.
  10. Knowing Paul, we are not shocked that number ten is THANKSGIVING. Actually Paul says more about thanksgiving than any thing else…For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. {Col. 3:15-17} What can I say, gratitude is attractive. Grateful people are happy people. Ungrateful people are unhappy people.

CONCLUSION

If you strip off the works of the flesh: Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, greed, anger, temper, malice, slander, foul talk, and dishonesty and you put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, love, peace and thanksgiving, we will be blessed indeed.

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