Summary: How can I be next year, that is DIFFERENT?
Colossians 3:12-14 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2012
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 whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
The other day I noticed just how aggressive and pushy people seem to be getting. Have you noticed that? Maybe you've recently been driving your car, and you were being tailgated by very aggressive driver, swerving in and out of traffic. Sometimes I'm surprised when the driver turns out to be an older woman who can barely see over the steering wheel. People are getting pushy. At the store the other day I watched the people stand in line to return their gifts – many of them pushing and shoving their way to the front. It's funny how that Christmas spirit of kindness quickly disappears, as people revert back to their old ways.
This evening, our lesson from Colossians 3 reminds us of how God would like us to treat the people around us. On this New Year's Eve, as we close out the year 2011 and look ahead to the year 2012, let's make a resolution this evening. I resolve to treat every person around me - not in a pushy aggressive way. But in a way that would bring glory to God. Tonight God gives us a number of goals we can strive for during this next year…
In Colossians 3, these resolutions are described as items of clothing. Just as you would put on a brand new shirt, or a brand new winter coat, here it tells us to put on an attitude…
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves (first of all) with compassion. Compassion is the opposite of this would be someone who is cold and heartless, someone who is concerned only with himself. Think of the character Scrooge, a man who, for awhile, was too busy balancing his own checkbook to notice the needs of other people. A compassionate person is someone who not only balances his checkbook, but writes checks to help other people. Someone that sincerely cares about other people. “Clothe yourselves with compassion…”
“… and kindness.” Kindness includes not only saying nice things, but doing nice things. Kindness is going above and beyond the call of duty to help someone out. I saw this at the store the other day – a woman’s little child began pulling all the packages of candy and peanuts off the shelf and was throwing them onto the floor. One of the packages burst open and there were M&M’s everywhere. This total stranger who had nothing to gain said to the woman, “Don’t worry about this, I’ll clean it up. You just do your shopping.” Clothe yourselves with kindness…”
“… and humility.” Humility means that you recognize your own weaknesses. You don’t think about how great you are. You don't spend time telling everyone how great you are. Do you know someone who likes to talk about himself and how great he is? And there you stand, listening as the person puts the spotlight on himself? Don't be that person, the Bible says. Clothe yourselves with humility...
“… and gentleness.” Gentleness is the opposite of road rage. Gentleness is the opposite of the man who is ranting and raving at the customer service counter in the store. I remember how paranoid I was when I was visiting a church member once, and she let me hold a vase that was worth over $3000. I was never more gentle in my life, as I carefully placed that vase back onto the table. To treat the people around you very very carefully - “Clothe yourselves with gentleness…”
“… and patience.” The Greek word here contains the idea of being pleasant in unpleasant circumstances. When the fast food worker doesn't know what he is doing. When it’s the bank teller’s first day on the job. You are patient with the people around you, even in trying circumstances.
Put these attitudes on, as you go out the door and interact with people. I resolve in 2012 to treat people special way - to be compassionate, and kind, and humble, and gentle, and patient with everyone I meet.
And then there is that sixth item of clothing. It’s set apart from the others. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have with each other.” A grievance is a legitimate reason to be upset with someone. If someone promises to pick you up at 2:00, and they forget and leave you standing out in the cold, you have a grievance. I’m sure we all could come up with a list of legitimate reasons why we are upset with certain people. But in 2012, I want to be a forgiver. That's my New Year's resolution.