Summary: Exposition of the words in Colossians - Compassion, Kindness, Meekness, Humility, Patience, Forgiveness, Love
Rules for Holy living – part 2
Reminders of part 1
Margaret spoke to us last week and covered the first part of Paul's instructions to the Colossians. In case you weren't here or like me your memory isn't that good lets look back and see what Paul was saying. Take a look back at verse 1 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above” Paul's concern is to get the focus of the Colossians off the world and its day-to-day problems, and on to Christ and their time with him in eternity. Eternity, obviously goes on forever, but for us it has a start – that's the moment we accept Christ as our saviour. So we come to eternal life with a life partly lived, but lived without the right instructions. Paul calls these old habits your 'earthly nature' and in verse 5 goes on to give some examples of just what the earthly nature consists of “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” and in verse 8 and 9 “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” and “Do not lie to each other”.
All these thing he says must be “put to death”; you must “rid yourselves of them”.
New clothes as a response to God.
At the start of the passage we had read to us today, Paul says we are “God's chosen people”. Think about it for a minute. The creator of the universe and all that it contains looked into your spirit and saw something. He didn't look at your CV and check your skill set, or your exam results to see if you'd reach the grade, or your good works to see how you were helping those in need, or your evil ways and say they were just too bad. He looked right into you and said “Yes, I'll take you”. That simple decision that God made – made you holy – set you apart for God, dedicated to Him. Because you now belong to God you are dearly loved, so dearly loved that He had already sent His son to die in your place so that your evil ways - those ways we looked at in verses 8 and 9 do not lead to your own death.
Qualities of the new Clothes
Put off your old self, and put on your new self, we are told back in verse 10
Then in verse 12 & 13 we get a description of the new self that Paul's wants us to wear.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
A Change of Clothes?
I wonder if you bought a change of clothes with you this morning. Probably not. I did though. I have to change into the uniform of my office to do my job. Much like a policeman or a paramedic. Putting on my robes changes me. Its not just that I have to be careful how I walk or I might trip over, although walking more slowly and carefully does have an effect. Really it is more subtle. It tells me that I am 'in character' as an actor would say. It makes me think more carefully about what I say and how I say it. It makes me a different person – more focussed on the things above.
It changes the way people see me too. Occasionally people will say 'nice sermon vicar'. My reaction inside is to have a rant about not being ordained and not being a vicar, and explaining in great, and probably very boring detail just exactly what the ministry of a reader is. A more helpful reaction would be to ignore the misidentification and ask them what they liked about the sermon, but I usually just manage a smile and thank you.
How does changing your clothes affect you? Do you behave differently when you are dressed up to go out, than you do when you are at home relaxing. Do you behave differently when you are dressed for working in the garden, than when you are dressed to attend a wedding?
Paul's new Christian suit
Lets take a look at what the new clothes Paul has in mind look like.
In Matthew 9:36 after Jesus has bee teaching and healing people it says “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Webster's dictionary says compassion means “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it”.
One day a student asked anthropologist Margaret Mead for the earliest sign of civilization in a given culture. He expected the answer to be a clay pot or perhaps a fish hook or grinding stone. Her answer was "a healed femur." Mead explained that no healed femurs are found where the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest, reigns. A healed femur shows that someone cared. Someone had to do that injured person's hunting and gathering until the leg healed. The evidence of compassion is the first sign of civilization. -- R. Wayne Willis Louisville, Kentucky