Colossians #14: Colossians 3: 9-10-14

 


Colossians #14:  Colossians 3: 9-10-14

 When you bend your knee to Christ, you are going to change.  Your focus changes from self-centered to Christ-centered, from selfishness to love, from getting to giving.  There is a moral change.  There are things you did before God recognized your faith that is inconsistent with the new life you’ve been given.  The Apostle Paul wrote that those old ways are now like out of style, poorly fitting, filthy garments that are to be stripped off and thrown into the fire (Colossians 3:9). 

The righteousness declared starts growing in your heart.  What’s in your heart is observed by the things you do.

 Paul writes:

Colossians 3:10-14 (MSG)

Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. 11 Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

 12 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. 13 Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. 14 And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

 A Christianity that doesn’t change you, that is not constantly refining you, is not the Christianity of the Bible.  The changes are both instantaneous and progressive, there is a continual renewal, you mature in your faith, your thoughts increasingly become Christ-like, and the things you do reflect the nature of the One who loved you and gave Himself for you (Ephesians 5:2).  You wear the garments of the Kingdom as you do the work of a disciple.  Love looks good on you.

 One of those garments is recognizing that humanity is all one family.  How we have missed this is a mystery to me.  Christ unifies.  The old way categorized everyone, rich, poor, elite, peasant, haves, have nots.  The old ways erected walls of division based on ethnicity, language, politics, and religion.  The new way erases all these artificial boundaries so that no one is excluded from a right relationship with God.  Whenever you look at someone and categorize them as other, as an outsider, or an alien, you build a wall in your heart that keeps them out.  You’ve made yourself superior to them.  God’s redeemed, are all adopted into His family (2 Corinthians 6:18, Romans 8:16). 

 Those that have bent the knee to Jesus are one family, one peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9).  In the Kingdom, there are no categories of disciples.  No separation into groups is mitigated by your background, there is only one body (1 Corinthians 12:27).  Walls built upon nationality, ritual, class, and culture are all torn down in the Kingdom.  All such social distinctions are removed.  This work starts in your heart, let it become contagious.  You become blind to the categories used in the old way of life that segregate people.  If there are to be any divisions it would be along the lines of those who believe and those who are yet to believe.  Those who believe are to be reaching out and inviting those who are yet believers to come in.

 This teaching effectively made the exclusive benefits of being Jewish, available to everyone.  No one has special status.  Everyone is given an equal opportunity to respond to the Gospel’s invitation.  Have you responded?  Sin damages and destroys relationships. Do have some relationships that have gone sour in your life?  How is your relationship with God?  How are your relationships with others? How is your relationship with yourself?  Jesus said:   "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 (NIV).  Jesus can fix what is broken.  Seek Him and He will find you.  Jesus can make you part of His family. 

 Let’s check out our new wardrobe, shall we?  Back in the day when it was absolutely necessary to have a couple of suits hanging in your closet, I would go downtown LA to Al Weiss and buy a suit.  Then I would take it to the Men’s Warehouse and have it custom-tailored to fit.  The sleeve and pant length are just right, waste exactly my size.  It looked good.  Your new wardrobe:  “Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it.”  This tells us that the new wardrobe is perfect for us and when we are wearing it we not only feel good, not only look good, we do good.

 Everything rises and falls on relationships.  You know that when relationships are good, life is good.  So it is not surprising that Paul’s inventory of your new wardrobe all centers around creating and maintaining good relationships with others.  It is assumed you have a good relationship with God because you have bent your knee to Him, following Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:34-40).  Being right with God empowers you to be right with others.

 “God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love” (Colossians 3:12-14).

 We’ll start with the last, “wear love.”  If you are wearing love, then all the other virtues in dealing with others naturally flow out of you.  Love is your all-purpose garment, never out of style, always the right thing to wear.  Love looks good on you.  Love is desiring and action in the best interests of another (thimblefulloftheology.com/the-Christian-graces-definition-of-love/).   You have heard countless times that love is seeking to meet the need of another at the cost of a personal sacrifice.  Love is the decision to treat others with respect and concern for their well-being.  The kind of love under observation is not a feeling, love is something you choose to do for another.

 When you are wearing love, you are compassionate.  When you see the mistreatment, the suffering, the oppression of another, it moves you to action.  When you see something that needs to be done, you don’t look to others to do it, you see it as your call, to get up and meet the need of another.

 When you are wearing love, you are kind.  The dictionary defines kind as having a friendly, generous, sympathetic, or warm-hearted nature.  The word in the original language adds a direction to these characteristics, they are directed to the well-being of one’s neighbor (Philippians 2:4).  

 When you are wearing love, you are humble.  Considering the other as important as yourself is humility.  Humility is a ground leveler.  Somewhere in 1776, I read:  “That all men are created equal.”  Humility values the inherent worth of other people.  It’s not that you are meek and mild, never confront, quiet, passive; no humility is considering others as important as yourself.

 When you are wearing love, there is an inner fortitude that makes it possible for you to put up with all kinds of ill behavior directed at you.  Many people lash out from feelings of insecurity and entitlement.  The insecure are actors pretending to be strong; false bravado, bullying, that sort of false front.  You though are strong in Christ and can take their craziness in stride.  You can endure, you can carry the load, you can help bear another’s burden.

 When you are wearing love, you live a disciplined life.  Integrity plays a huge part in living a disciplined life.  You are committed to doing the things that add value to your own life and the life of others.  You refrain from doing anything that would bring you down.  With discipline you can sacrifice pleasure for gain, you can delay gratification to reach a higher goal (1 Corinthians 9:27).  Discipline builds self-confidence and creates habits that help you live your life to the full.  You train yourself in righteousness.

 When you are wearing love, you are even-tempered.  Poise comes to mind, there is an inner calm at your center because you believe that God has a hand in the circumstances you find yourself in.  This center keeps you from becoming angered quickly, you do not have a short fuse.  Minor upsets don’t set you off.  You’re not subject to severe mood swings.  I sure need more even-tempered in my life—that’s not to say I’ve got some level of perfection in those other virtues, but this is one that  keeps anger in check, especially dealing with other people.  Anger can lead to the destruction of relationships in one outburst.

 When you are wearing love, you are content.  Contentment is an inner attitude that says everything is “ok right now.”  It doesn’t mean complacent. You are ok, you’re yourself, comfortable in your skin.  When you are at peace with yourself, it’s easier to be at peace with others.  Being content also helps you express gratitude, it empowers a thankful heart.  

When you are wearing love, you are quick to forgive.  One of the hardest interpersonal behaviors to accomplish is to forgive someone who has offended you, hurt you, or abused you, even to the point of changing the course of your life in a direction no one would want.  We tend to smash the monsters.  Forgiveness involves canceling a debt that can never be repaid.  No matter what the offending party does to make amends, it would never be enough.  They can’t make it right so deep is the pain and suffering they have caused.  Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is a refusal to become a debt collector and turn it all over to God.  Doing so frees you from the offender; forgiveness makes it possible for you to make a clean break.  When the offenses are not grievous, forgiveness keeps love alive, forgiveness is oil in the engine of relationships.  “Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.”

 Your new wardrobe: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, even-tempered, content, quick to forgive, all indications that you are a lover.  This is a change in character, thoughts, in behavior.  This is the new you.  Amazingly the new you looks a lot like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).  A Christianity that doesn’t change you is not the Christianity of the Bible. 

 If you’re not changing, you must already have been made perfect.  Are you perfect?  I know I am not.  I must constantly remind myself to be a lover.  When I do, I find that God’s power is right there to help me wear my new clothes.  Examine yourself.  There will be areas in which you excel.  There will be areas you will need to shore up.  Identify the area of weakness; know the triggers that can set you off into the old behavior.  Then you can figure out how to strip it off and burn that old way. 

 I have anger issues.  I have found that when I feel my fuse burning short, to breathe before I say or do anything.  A deep breath or two, or five, exhaled slowly, has a calming effect and gives you time to engage your brain.  I especially need divine help when someone I am close to irritates me.  I won’t go into detail.  I work at being even-tempered.  So when I feel my temperature rising, I breathe, then I try not to make it personal.  Most of my anger issues stem from unresolved childhood anger.  “I am to blame, it’s my fault, I can’t do anything right, I can’t be forgiven, I’m stupid, unlovable, rejected” those old tapes play in my mind.  The more intimate the relationship the greater I feel the hurt, most likely an unintended hurt.  There is also a wave of anger that arises out of seeing what you hate about yourself displayed in the other person.  This calls for a reality check.  Issues like this sent me to a therapist to help me untangle my emotions, I needed more than prayers for deliverance, I had to seek out being delivered.  Identify your problems, know your dis-ease, and you can discover a cure. When I feel anger rising, I breathe, take myself out of it, overriding the old tapes, replacing them with maturing Mike's thoughts.  Then I can listen, and seek to understand where the other person is coming from.  I am so longer protective or competitive, now I am cooperative seeking to positively resolve the issue.  I am so much better than I used to be, and fully realize that I have still a long way to go.  Coaches say practice makes perfect, there are a lot of opportunities in this life to practice being even-tempered. Sometimes I do well, other times, not so well.  I find encouragement in a sentence from a letter written to believers in Philippi:

 Philippians 3:13 (MSG)

Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus.

Keep on changing folks, its hard work, but you have every resource you need to become the person God created you to be.

 “And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”

Every cultural barrier that separates disappears in the Kingdom.

          You are empowered to make cultural divisions disappear in your heart.

 Your new wardrobe is hand made by God so that you can thrive.

          You are empowered to wear love.

 There will always be areas in your life that need to be changed.

          As you partner with the Holy Spirit, those changes can be made.

 What are you going to be wearing today?  This week?


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