Wearing the Right Clothing
December 27th, 2009
Christmas is a time to be around family members, and while this is great, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, there can be those irritations which are inevitable in one’s family, and in ones congregational family. Today, we are going to do something a bit different, and that is essentially a “Bible Study” on Colossians 3:12-17. We are going to look at each verse, and I think very quickly you will recognize the relevance of what is being said.
He starts out with this words “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience….. As people who have a relationship with Christ, we essentially have been given new clothing. Earlier in Colossians it says about the baptized believers that we have been raised with Christ, hidden with Christ, and because of this we are to put Off (put to death) lives that our contrary to this new clothing. Those are idolatry, lust, impurity, filthy language. These are the proverbial; cast aside these old clothes it is not who you are. As Christians those things don’t dress well. I often go to my wife with fashion advice, and both she and Anna are quick to point out “what works and doesn’t work” in my fashion sense. First realize that you are chosen, holy, and dearly loved. In other words, you are doing these things in order to get into a better relationship with God. Christ has done it all, this kind of living isn’t going to get you closer. However your neighbor could use compassion. This is the sort of compassion that is found deep in ones soul, it gets to the heart of ones being. He goes on to speak of living a life having humility. One author writes about how humility was seen by others (that is putting someone else above self). “In the Greek world, the term was used disparagingly with respect to the spiritual and moral state of man. Humility was considered a disposition fit only for slaves”. Another word here is patience or another term is long suffering “this means bearing with others despite their defects”. We are to be patient with the faults of others, for people certainly are patient with outs. One person said “patience is the ability to remain silent and hungry while everybody else in the restaurant gets served. On the one hand it doesn’t make sense, but always with Christ in the picture, we are called to be patient even in the midst of being wronged by others. “Forgive one another, even as the Lord has forgiven you”. Notice that all of this assumes, there will be a need for patience, there will be a need for forgiveness. People will wrong us in small and large ways. Obviously some people can see being wronged by others as their identity. That is living a life of victimhood; it is always someone else’s fault. That is not what Paul is speaking of here, he is not giving us excuses, rather he is saying let’s be honest. You will be wronged in this life, and our reaction is to forgive. Even if people don’t ask for it or want it, this is simply who we are as Christ’s people. Why? Because this is exactly the way Christ has treated us.
Verse 14 says “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. In some ways love is the belt that fastens or ties together the whole outfit. Romans `13:9 says love does not harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Notice here that love is not some indefinable emotion, but rather an action word. It is action shown to ones neighbor, compassion, kindness and the like. Sometimes we see love merely as located in here, but biblically love is located in a life of neighbor.
Notice what he does next, he turns from our relationship with one another to our relationship with Christ. He says “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.. Living this life of outward love is not our natural way of doing things, and it is also a life where we can quickly fall into the notion “well if I’m patient, forgiving, and loving what is left for me.” It is as if he is saying, what is left for you is the peace of Christ. In the book of Romans it says “Therefore since you have been Justified by faith, you have peace with God”. The peace of Christ is knowing that you are forgiven in Christ, knowing you are loved in Christ, knowing that you are close to Christ. Naturally we don’t turn this direction which is why he writes in verse 16 “Let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly, as teaching and admonishing on another in all wisdom, signing hymns psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. “ Whether it is memorizing bible passages, listening to sermons, singing songs, reading you bible, partaking of the word made flesh in the sacrament. This is our fuel, which not only makes us go in our relationship with Christ, but also gives us the ability to love, forgive, and be patient with one another. We are in essence “richer” having been engulfed in the words of Christ.
This last verse is simply a great summary that our life, our whole life, is a living sacrifice to Christ. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. This life goes beyond our time together in worship, this life includes every aspect of our day. We sometimes refer to this as our vocation in life. That is that place where God has called us to serve in this world. It may be in a job, it may be as a astudent, homemaker, on the athletic field. For you see in these areas of life, God cares for humanity. God uses those in the health industry to heal. He uses those in farming to feed the world. He uses those in the banking industry to financial safety and security to its customers, and the list goes on. These deeds done in faith, are godly deeds, and are part of God’s mission on this earth.
Go ahead, put on the new clothing you already have in Christ Jesus. Compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness’, love. When you get tired of this outfit, let the peace of Christ, the words of Christ dwell in you richly, so that you can see what a good looking outfit it really is. Amen.