Summary: The virtues we "wear" in the world as people and as a church define who and what we are.
Colossians 3: 12 – 17 – What Will You Wear?
Intro: Each Sunday morning as I prepare for coming to church, I go into our closet and stare at the long line of shirts, slacks and shoes. I ask myself, sometimes out loud, “What will I wear today?” This can be a daunting task! You have to be careful because you don’t want to wear the same shirt and tie you wore last week. I usually select a shirt and tie and then look for slacks that match them. Then, of course you have to choose the correct color belt and shoes. Sometimes when I open the closet door I find the “good fairy” has already made all those decisions. A complete outfit is laid out and all I have to do is put it on.
I. Perhaps you follow a similar routine taking care so everything goes together well and looks good!
A. You have probably heard the old adage, “Clothes make the man.” For example, when you see someone in a long white coat with a stethoscope around their neck you assume, “There goes a doctor.” When you see a person wearing purple and white you might assume, “They live in Port Neches or Groves.” When you see a person wearing black and gold you might assume, “They live in Nederland.” All assumptions based on what people wear.
B. What do people assume when they look at you? “There’s a successful person, there’s a person who works hard to earn a living, there goes a bum who doesn’t know the meaning of the word work.” The same is true of a church. “There are no parking spaces in a huge lot surrounding a relatively new, well-kept building = that must be a successful church.” “There’s plenty of room to park in a big parking lot surrounding an old run-down building = that church is dying.”
C. In Colossians 3:12, Paul lays out for the church what they are to “wear” not only as individuals; but, also as a group. The first two: compassion and kindness describe the Christian demeanor. Compassion sees a need and seeks to alleviate the pain and suffering that surrounds it. Compassion is the attitude of the heart that seeks the best for those around them. What good is compassion if you DO nothing? Kindness is compassion in action. Do people see compassion and kindness in you or in this church family?
II. The last three items mentioned in verse 12 express the attitude with which the Christian is to have while relating to each other and those people in our world. They are: lowliness, meekness and patience.
A. Lowliness isn’t the only word used here. Some translations use the word humility. This is the ability to put others ahead of ourselves. To think more highly of others than we do ourselves. The opposite of lowliness is self-centeredness. The person or church demonstrating lowliness or humility is one that thinks of others first, one the is reaching out to others. Is that a word people would use to describe you or this church?
B. The word “gentleness” used here entails courtesy, considerateness, and a willingness to waive one’s rights rather than to be concerned for personal gain in one’s relationships with others. You come into the sanctuary to discover a visitor is sitting in “your seat.” Instead of asking them to move gentleness would say, “You have chosen a good location. I usually sit in this area. Do you mind if I sit with you?” --- Gentleness is the grace to accept life. Do people experience gentleness with you or this church?
C. The final word used to describe the way in which Christians are to live is the word “patience.” I’ve heard people say, “If I wanted patients I would have become a doctor.” Unfortunately, our society has become accustomed to instant gratification and that is what we expect of our relationships and our church. Patience is one thing I have very little of. It is the one thing I must work at with the most diligence. In fact, I used to have a sign in my office that said, “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” I’ve discovered the only way to obtain patience is to be patient.
III. Perhaps the most difficult question that a successful Christian or congregation has to answer is WHY? --- Why should we “put on” these virtues? Why do we do the things we do? Why are we here?
A. As a student pastor some 34 years ago, I served the South Fork Presbyterian Church. They sang a hymn repeatedly at the church and it became their theme song: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” – Words from II Timothy 1:12