Summary: The garments of your new nature in Christ are to be worn in your home and at church... these are garments you wear in public as attituded that translate into action as you interact with others.
Title: Being Gracious People
Text: Colossians 3:12-14 (3:1-15)
Thesis: The garments of your new nature in Christ are to be worn in your home, at church and in public… these garments are attitudes that translate into actions as you interact with others.
Series Title: Living with others at home and at church: How to walk hand in hand when you don’t see eye to eye.
We have now transitioned from the old garments worn before we were in Christ. Those attitudes and actions of your old nature were likened to filthy rags that needed to be stripped off and burned. Anger, rage, malicious behavior, denigrating and vulgar speaking are to be removed and discarded… not laundered and put back in the closet. Therein is part of the problem with Christians… we become followers of Christ and receive a new nature but we keep some of the old stuff around just in case we wish to go rogue and relapse into our former and un-Christ-like ways.
Our text begins by giving us three good reasons for putting on the garments or characteristics that are to be exemplified in our new life in Christ: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves…”
God wants us to live into this new life in Christ because:
1. God chose us!
2. God set us apart or consecrated us making us holy!
3. God loves us!
And now that you and I are aware of those things we are encouraged to live into who we now are… God wants us to live into this new life. So now, having stripped off and discarded those old garments we are ready to get dressed in our new wardrobe… the wardrobe God picked out for us.
And here is what God’s Word says about getting dressed in this new wardrobe. Understanding that attitudes lead to actions he begins with a series of attitudes and outlooks that will influence and guide our behavior.
I. Attitudes of Gracious People
Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
The metaphor in our text is that of “getting dressed.” Depending on the translation words are used like “put on” or “Clothe yourselves” or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.”
It seems there is an outfit for every sport. Footballers wear helmets, pads and the team jersey. Biker riders were helmets and those silly pants that make the look like they have a loaded diaper. Baseball players were their gloves, baseball caps and team uniforms. Grooms and groomsmen wear tuxes. Men and women in the military wear the uniforms of their respective branches of the service. Christians put on the garments that reflect who they are as Children of God.
Before we actually unpack what each of these attitudes looks like it is pertinent to note at the onset that every single attitude translates into a way we will relate to others. These are garments are designed for wearing in public. These attitudes set the tone for how we will live and work together in our homes and in our church.
The first item of clothing we are to put on is:
A. Tenderhearted mercy (Compassionate) A good antonym for tenderhearted mercy or compassionate would be cold-hearted.
This was of particular importance in the Colossian culture where animals, aged people, disabled people, simple minded people and even to a certain extent women and children were not treated humanely. It was a culture in which anyone or thing considered imperfect was, if not mistreated and abused, literally discarded.
To be tenderhearted and merciful… to be compassionate was to be tender toward the suffering and the miserable. Tenderhearted mercy or compassion does not look with indifference upon the less fortunate, the disadvantaged, the marginalized and destitute.
As a caregiver I can assure you that there is a danger of becoming calloused and insensitive to suffering. In some ways caregivers steel themselves against feeling too deeply because there is so very much suffering and sadness in the world.
Dr. Mary Poplin told of an experience she had during an extended visit with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. There was a five-month old infant who was deformed, constantly sick, and often miserable. The babies had all been fed and were falling asleep in their bassinettes, and as she was getting ready to leave she glanced at the infants on her way out the door and noticed undigested formula was dripping out of this child’s bassinette. He had lost his entire 8 ounce bottle of formula. She looked around the room for a nurse aid, someone, anyone… but there was no one who was not already busy with other children.
So Dr. Poplin, with no little struggle, decided to stay and clean up the mess. She put on her apron again, lifted the baby out of his bassinette and held him on her shoulder as she gathered the dirty sheets and wiped up the mess. And as she worked she heard a muffled sound, tears where pouring from his eyes and the only sound he could make was a convulsive sob. Dr. Poplin’s heart broke as she realized the little guy had much greater needs that to simply be cleaned up… she repented of her insensitivity, bathed his little misshapen body, dressed him, held him close, rocking him and speaking lovingly to him as he fell asleep.