Summary: #10 in series on Colossians, and final in series on our church's purposes. Love is all.
Colossians 3:12-14 – Extreme Makeover
Today we are wrapping up our series on the 5 purposes of the church, but this isn’t the last that I’ll be mentioning them. Really, they need to be reviewed often, helping us stay on track for what God intends for Centreville Baptist.
Even though I’ve been skipping around in the New Testament explaining the purposes, Jesus’ words are really enough to shed light on them. Jesus gave 2 “greats”, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28, tells us to go and make disciples. This is the letter R in the word GRACE – reaching out, sharing the love of Jesus, working to bring people into the Kingdom. That verse also mentions baptism, which is so neat, since we are entering the waters of baptism this afternoon. The Great Commission also tells us to teach them observe all Jesus commanded. That’s the letter A in GRACE – to aspire to live like Jesus, to become more like Him, to grow, to stretch, to conform to His image.
The Great Commandment, found in Matthew 22, tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. That’s the letter G in GRACE – to glorify Him, to lift Him up, to worship Him, to live for Him, to put Him first in all we do. And the Great Commandment also tells us to love others as we love ourselves. That’s 2-fold. That’s the letter C – to commit to serve, to put others’ needs above of our own, to use the talents and gifts God has given us to help others along.
And that’s also the letter E, today’s message – to encourage one another to build each other up, to strengthen the faith of others, to help them in their faith, to love them and show concern for them. It’s the thing that people notice the most if it’s missing in the church. Barrington Bob and Cape Island Kate may not know all the reasons this church is here, but they know this much… that a church is supposed to love.
Today’s passage speaks to us about loving one another. Let’s read Colossians 3:12-14, and today I’m reading from the New Living Translation.
The writer Paul, who wrote so many of the books of the New Testament, basically followed a pattern when he wrote his letters. The first half of the letter was theological, and the 2nd was practical. The 1st half talked about who we are because of what Jesus has done, and the 2nd half told us how to live that out in daily life. Plus, there were no neat divisions like chapters, verses, capitals or even punctuation. So, what Paul had in mind as he received the words of God when he wrote Colossians was that because Jesus is first, because He is Lord of all, because He is the Boss of the church and its people, we need to behave in certain ways. Because of His grace, because of His sacrifice, because of His love for us, we need to live that way towards others.
And Paul uses the clothes metaphor again. He compares the way we treat others with clothing, as he did in the message from 2 weeks ago. Then he told us what not to wear, behaviours and thoughts that have no part of a Christian lifestyle. Today, Paul tells us what to wear in an extreme makeover, a radical departure from how most people think. He lists 7 virtues in how to treat others. And one biggie that completes the ensemble.
The 1st article of clothing Christians should wear is compassion. Tenderhearted mercy – NLT. The bowels of mercy – KJV. It means sympathy for others, especially when they are suffering, including a desire to help. Mark 6:34 tells us, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” To care about others, enough to want to make a difference in their lives, is compassion, and it’s what Jesus lived out in the flesh.
The 2nd article of clothing Christians should wear is kindness. It’s about being considerate and caring. It’s about integrity. It’s about, frankly, being nice to people. Romans 2:4 tells us that God’s kindness leads to repentance. Polite, friendly, pleasant… this is all expressed in kindness.
The 3rd article of clothing Christians should wear is humility. Humility is not about putting yourself down. It means that you don’t think more highly of yourself than what God says. God says you are His child, His beloved, His workmanship. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. But remember that it was God who made you. Without Christ you are nothing. Humility can be defined as confidence properly placed. It’s not about your talents and gifts and goodness; it’s about what God has done for you. When we think it’s about us, we get proud and self-focused, and we tend to look down on others. Humility is about remembering where you came from, and giving others the same chance you’ve had.