In this sermon Chris unpacks Colossians 3:12-14 where Paul urges us to put on new spiritual clothes in the light of the new identity we have in Jesus Christ: Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, Patience, bearing with one another and Forgiveness. These are our communal values for how we do life together, how we grow together with the help of the Holy Spirit – can we do this together and as a community in 2022?
Sermon preached by Chris Roberts on Sunday January 23, 2022.
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Well, We have had Peter Brooks two weeks ago give us a great sermon telling us what God might want us to do in 2022, and last week we had Tim tell us about the biblical principle of sowing and reaping, and thinking about the new year theme, I saw a great article as the new year started called 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying, and I wanted to give you a few of my favourite tips for you to try out in 2022:
- Exercise on a Monday night (nothing fun happens on a Monday night)
- On the fence about a purchase, wait 72 hours before buying
- Send a voice note instead of a text, they sound like personal mini podcasts
- Always bring ice to house parties (there is always never enough)
- Buy a cheap blender to use to chop onions, saves time and tears
- Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher
Well I don’t know if these tips are amusing or helpful but we are 23 days into the new year and if you might be sick of hearing about self-improvement or making goals for the new year. The thing is the world is full of tips about improving your life, quick-fix schemes, and most of these fail to do the trick. More often than not, I end up back in the same old habits I wanted to improve.
So that led me to see what the Bible says about ‘improving your life’, in fact that such a worldly term, improving. Might I suggest that in 2022, the best thing we can aim for is to be GROWING. Growing to be more and more like Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts.The world suggests that we can improve our lifes by works, however we are going to see that true growth comes when we join in with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So you have already listened to our passage being read, Colossians 3, and in this passage Paul talks about some new clothing that we can put on every day that will lead to our growth in the Lord. This is not just for growing us individually, but they are are our new communal values, things that express themselves in community, how we do life together.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not really a clothes person. All of the t-shirts I own are a single colour with no logos or anything like that, and it makes it super easy to pair with jeans or shorts. My clothing style is practical rather than fashionable. Maybe we have clothes lovers in the audience, some fashion iccons, or maybe your like me.
But I know enough about clothing to understand it’s importance in our world today. If you’re going to a job interview, do you show up in a singlet and sandals? No of course not, you wear formal business attire that is appropriate for the job you are going for. We dress in the right clothes for the weather, we wear black when mourning a loved one who passed away. Sportsmen and women wear uniforms to show the world they have arnt their spot in the team, they represent their country or state with thier clothes. Today’s passage focuses on new spiritual clothes, a new wardrobe for Christians.
But first so as you heard earlier, we are in Colossians. Colossians is structured a lot like Ephesians, we w did a big series on last year, the first half of Colossians and Ephesians are about what God has done for us, the second half of Colossians and Ephesians are what we are then called to do practically in light of what God has done. Remember that Paul was writing to a group of people who had been joined together by what Jesus has done, the Jews and the Gentiles, and these words were written so this new community could function as God’s people in the new world. AN dI am going to keep repeating it over and over, while it is greta ot grow individually, Paul’s focus isn;t on how we grow on our own, but rather how we express God’s love and become like Jesus in the context of community and relationships. This Christian life isn’t meant to be done alone.
So Paul has been building for two chapters all that God has done, and this beginning of chapter three is his beginning to tell us, ‘so how do we respond’. In the beginning of chapter 3, Paul makes it very clear that since Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross, Christians are given a new life, a new self, with promises about our position and identity in Christ. And we have spiritual clothes that match our new standing in Christ. He indicates that we no longer should keep on our dirty, filthy sinful old clothes that represent our former self, but rather leave them in the past with our former lives before we met Christ.
So let’s focus on verses 12-14. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Now this is something you could realistically memorise in 2022. These three verses are as good as any New Years Resolution that you may have kept or have abandoned already in 2022. What f by the end of this year someone could look at you and say that you are clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience? Wouldn’t if be great if you were more forgiving at the end of the year, if you were more loving to your family, friends and community?
So how you clothe yourself in the new clothes God has for you in 2022?We are going to tackle this in three sections, firstly, the call to put on new spiritual clothes. Secondly, the reason we put on these new spiritual clothes, and finally the manner in which we put on these spiritual clothes.
- THE CALL
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Just read that again. And can I have a show of hands, is there someone in the room who would NOT like to have some more of these qualities by the end of 2022. That’s right!
We are going to tackle the first part of verse 12 in the next section but for now, let’s focus on these clothes.
Like I said earlier, we can’t dot his in our strength, it doesn’t work. But it is not like we just rely on the Holy Spirit to do all of the work as well. Paul suggests to us here that we have an active role in what we sort of spiritual qualities we choose to put on every day.
I’m sure you are familiar with armor of God from EPhesians 6, well the same Greek work for “put on” as in put on the full armour of God is the same word Paul uses here for ‘clothe yourselves”
There is an implication in both of these passages that we are meant to be in partnership with the Holy Spirit in putting on these clothes. We have an active role to put on the clothes he gives us and the Holy Spirit provides us wit the spiritual strength to do so and transforms our heart as we continue to do so. We have a choice what clothes we put on every day.
The implication is also that this is a daily practice, as we put on our own clothes for the day, we can be putting on these spiritual clothes as well. It is in the daily practice that the Holy Spirit can grow and nourish these attributes so they become part of who we are, molding us into Christ-likeness so further along its no longer an effort, but something that happens naturally.
So can you see here, I have my spiritual clothes ready, let’s go through this verses and quickly unpack each item of clothing.
Compassion is one of the many qualities Jesus exemplified when he was on Earth,.
When Jesus heals a leper in
Mark 1:41Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” “
Before Jesus fed the 5000, he was moved with compassion
‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat.
In Greek, the word literally means ‘a deep gut feeling’. I;m sure you all know what that feeling is like, when you see someone in need or a person’s struggles, you are moved in your gut to deep compassion.
Compassion moves Christians to do God’s will on Earth. If it is God’s will to heal the sick, comfort those who are mourning, love the unlovable and take care of the needy, then compassion is first needed to move us into doing these godly actions.
Are you compassionate? Do you have a deep gut feeling valling you to Godly action when you see injustice, when you see someone in need? Or is your heart hardened and dull? As God for his compassion!
Kindness is of course one of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galtaians 5.
We can show kindness because God first showed kindness to us! By sending his son Jesus to live on the Earth, die on the Cross, rise again and give us a new life, a new relationship with God and life forever is kindness no human can ever give to someone else.
Kindness is another gentle word that can also mean gentleness. A kind person would tend to reach out to others, offering support of some sort—a kind word or a gift of food or money. This act of kindness would be the natural outgrowth of “a heart of compassion” As a community for example, when someone has a baby at church, we send them meals. This is an example of kindness, its taking the initiative to do something caring for another.
Do you show kindness? How cna you put on kindness every day in 2022?
Humility can also be known as Lowliness. Lowliness is not often seen as a virtue today. We prize assertiveness rather than lowliness. However, as Christians, we are called to emulate Christ, who “existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, (Philippians 2:6-8).
There’s a great C.S Lewis quote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less,” That why before that Philipians passage
Are you full of pride? Or do you put others ahead of yourself? Can you ask God for humility in 2022?
Another word for gentleness is meekness. ABut if you weren’t there, gentleness and meekness is not the worldlyd definition, ie. weakness. Instead it is Strength under control. The assured strength of someone in control of their own actions and uses them to appropriately.
Rash, impulsive decisions are most always not good decisions. When we surrender to God’s will for our life, we can be like Jesus, able to use our strength when necessary, but also as equally ready to restrain it. I like this definition: gentle in relationships but firm in convictions.
Are you self-controlled? WOuld people describe you as gentle? God has given you good gifts and strengths, can you ask God for strength in holding to his truth but gentleness in your relationships with others?
Another word for patience is steadfastness. And I love that word, because it speaks to what patience really means, standing firm against adversity without quitting. It means enduring opposition. We often think about patience as gritting our teeth when traffic is bad, but patience truly is resting in the knowledge that God ha sveryhting under his control and moving our life in line with his timing. If you have God’s peace, you have his patience.
So, would people describe you as a patient people? DO you find yourself frustrated when things aren’t going your way? How do you ask God for his peace, rest and temptation in being steadfast and patient in life?
- Bear with each other
In life, you might not be friends with everyone. THere will even be people who really annoy you and get on your nerves. And of course this happens in Church.
Paul makes it very clear in verse 11, Here there is no Gentile or Jew,circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Paul is clearly saying that no matter who we are, we are all united in Christ and we all deserve the dignity of others bearing with us. This can mean showing restraint, having patience, giving people second chances and being quick to forgive.
The most important thing here is that we forgive because God forgave us. Thinka about everything God forgives, all your sin in the past and ll the sin to come. Jesus died and rose and forgives us all for that sin. SO we are called to show the same forgiveness to those around us.
When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?”—Jesus responded, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).
Forgiveness may not lead to reconciliation between you and that person. Forgiveness doens;t mean forgetting or ignoring abuse or destructive bahvaiour. But when you forgive you give the right of justice back to Godm releasding that person from ‘your wrath’ while also taking the barb’s of that wrong they caused out of your heart. Forgiveness is crucial in Christiajn community, without it we become bitter, hateful, foul, a horrdi community,
What have you noticed about all of these items of clothing? Well, they are all displayed in the context of relationships.
“It is most significant to note that every one of the graces listed has to do with personal relationships between people. There is no mention of virtues like efficiency or cleverness, not even of diligence or industry – not that these things are unimportant. But the great basic Christian virtues are those which govern human relationships. William Barclay
These are are virtues for our community. If everyone in our church put on these clothes, our community would thrive and be a light to the world. So think about your relationships, to frist your family, your husband or your wife, your friends, your church .
It also important that these are all ‘doing words’. It is hard to show forgiveness to noone, and a kind deed isn;t kind if igt only done with yourself in mind.
So what I’m saying is that these clothes help you shift your focus on yourself, what can I get, what do I want, how can I get the best out of this situation, but moves us to think about how we can serve those around us.
“but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, can we make this a daily practice in 2022 Manly Life? Can we wake up and clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiveness? WHat would that look like for you? What would change in your life if you really started doing this?
- THE REASON
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
So let’s go back to the start, why are we being called to put on these clothes?
Well it all goes back to what Paul has been saying throughout chapter three. We were once stuck in our old sinful ways, our old sinful self had no capacity to make ourselves holy. But now we are in Christ, we have to throw off the old self and start living in the new self.
You see, Paul makes it clear all through chapter 3 and ata the beginning chapter 3 that because of our position in CHrist we have these new spiritual clothes to wear. We did nothing to earn them, but we are no longer our old selves clothed in sin, but have new clothes to wear.
Before Paul talks about the clothing we are to wear, he first indicates our position in Christ. In this short opening he indicates three truths about who we are because of what Jesus has done: they are:
- That we are God’s chosen people:
This phrase reminds of the promises made to Abraham in Genesis. That the descendants of Abraham would outnumber the stars in the sky and that they would be God’s chosen people. This was also written to both Jews and Gentiles, meaning that those not in the bloodline of the Jews were no inlcuded in this promise. God has chosen you. It feels good to be chosen. Being chosen means we have a purpose, a mission. Don’t forget that you are chosen. God has a plan for you. Let’s not waste it by living in the old self.
In the context of the passage Holy can mean two things:
SET APART – God’s chosen people, you and me, are holy because God has called us and set us apart. Let’s focus on that word set apart. It indicates separation from the world we live in. Of course we must physically live here on Earth, but we must remember God has set us apart to be his hands and feet on the Earth, we are filled with holy purpose to fulfill God’s plan for the whole world to know his love. Being set apart means we are reserved for a single purpose, God’s puroose. Just like a toothbrush is et apart for brushing one perosn’s teeth and not for using on the floor, we are reserved for God’s purpose and plans, not for our old ways. Don’t forget that you are set apart.
The meaning of holy is sinless or without fault. Well that rules me out! But of course we aren;t made holy by our own actions but instead the detah and resurrection of Jesus Christ who took on our sin and forgave it all, calling uds righteous and holy. Don’t forget What Hesus did for you and me.
Let’s pray this week, that when the temptation comes to put on some of those old sinful clothes, we cna be reminbded of who we are in Jesus CHrist.
- Dearly Loved:
Some version suse the word beloved, which I think sums up what this word means. It is literally impossible to give any words that can measure how much God loves us. You are His treasure, the apple of his eye. You are so so precious in the eyes of God.
Let me share my favourite verse of all time:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The truth is that I often struggle to really believe that God loves me sometimes. As I grew up my faith was very based on my works, If I did good things I was loved, I failed and that love went away. I get myself caught in negative self-talk, I bash myself over my sin and I forget how much God loves me. , I can find it hard to accept his grace, love and mercy.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe all you need is a touch of God’s abounding love today. Don’t forget how incredibly you are loved.
I wan to share my favourite quote form Max Lucado: God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.
That is the power of God’s love ion your life. He wants you to have life to the full! That is what this new wardrobe is for!
But there is one thing left, the outer garment that binds everything together, the final piece of the puzzle, which is the way or the manner in which we put on this new wardrobe, this new clothing.
- THE WAY
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
It always comes back to love. Love expresses in community is the highest virtue.
1 Corinthians 13: If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
The Greek word Paul uses for love here is agape, which is a purely ‘giving’ love. This word doesn’t describe a love where you get back exactly the love you give, it is a word that calls us to go out and love others.
Remember what Jesus says, Love is the fulfillment of the law.
And finally, let’s remember this. We aren’t alone in this. We aren’t stuck trying to do those things and failing again. The holy spirit promises to help us, transforming us from the inside as we grow. Yes we will make mistakes, but we fall back into God’s unedning grace and forgiveness.
So Manly Life,
You are chosen by God. You are holy, set apart for a holy purpose and made righteous in Jesus Chris. You are deeply and eternally loved. So throw off the old self, the sin that entangles, and instead clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
What will our church look like if we all did this? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you do this in 2022?