Friday, September 12, 2008

Put on...


I memorized Colossians 3 a long time ago. I'm trying to re-memorize it in the ESV. Having preached through this wonderful epistle, I immediately recalled these verses and their meaning applied to myself. Notice the image used by Paul, that of "putting on" various behaviors because we are "chosen, holy, and beloved". In other words, because of God's grace shown to us, we can put on these traits. "Putting on" is what we do with clothes- We put them on. They are to adorn us. Our "clothes" should reflect who we are. For me, a redeemed sinner beloved by God because of Jesus, I must put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness. Wow. "Putting on" can only be by grace, it's not in me naturally-

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

"Put on... Compassion": Literally the word is, "bowels of sympathy or mercy," that is, tender mercies. The ancients believed that the emotions originated in the bowels. We don't think that way, although we get close to it when we say, "I've got a gut feeling." Think for a moment, when you see someone’s hardship or plight, do you get a sick feeling in your stomach? This evidences compassion. Compassion is what we would call a "heart of pity." It is a sense of sympathy, of empathy with someone. Lord, help me to be compassionate!

"Put on... Kindness": Kindness is action that reveals compassion, action that arises out of a sense of sympathy. Kindness comes forth from compassion. It can take many different forms-a smile, a kind word, a pat on the shoulder, an invitation to lunch, an offer of help, the provision of a need. By God's grace, I must put on compassion and kindness.

"Put on... Humility": Having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s moral littleness. Lowliness of mind. John Stott rightly calls humility "the rarest and fairest of all Christian virtues." The chief Christian virtue is humility because it is the exact opposite of the worst of sins, which is pride. I am to put on humility, to think humbly of myself. This has to be by God's grace because I am hideously prideful and arrogant. As the apostle puts it in another place, I am to "regard others as better than ourselves (myself)."

In this light, I think my favorite words of Paul are- "I am the least of the apostles." (1 Cor. 15:9), "I am the very least of all the saints". (Eph. 3:8), and "I am the chief of sinners." (1 Tim. 1:15).

"Put on... Meekness": Meekness basically means "gentleness”. Not weakness, meekness! Someone has rightly observed that meekness is "strength under control." Meekness is real strength, but it does not have to display itself or show off how strong it is. J.I. Packer says that "Meekness, for a child of God, means accepting uncomplainingly what comes, knowing that it comes from the hand of God who orders all things. What he sends, we accept in faith even if it hurts, knowing that it's for our and others' good."

"Put on... Patience and Forbearance": Patience is longsuffering, the enduring of another's exasperating conduct without flying into a rage. A slowness in avenging wrongs. It is holding back, restraining yourself from becoming upset or speaking sharply or shrilly to somebody by our mate, your child, whoever whose conduct you find difficult and exasperating. Forbearance means to "bear with one another." This is similar to longsuffering, but it is the positive side. Literally it is "to uphold and support" someone. Not only to restrain yourself but to support others, encourage them.

"Put on... Forgiveness": Forgiveness is not being offended and just ignoring it or letting it go.
Forgiveness is exercised or granted when a sin has been committed and there is confession and the seeking of forgiveness by the one who does the offending. In such cases, I am called to forgive my brothers and sisters. Forgiveness means that I do not keep bringing up what I have forgiven! Forgiveness also means is that I do not tell anybody else about a matter that is forgiven. I should not gossip about it to others. I consider the matter resolved.


Notice the importance of practicing forgiveness in verse 13-

... bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

The model for my forgiving others is the ultimate forgiver of all time- God, through Christ! A person who cannot or will not forgive has very likely NOT been forgiven of their own sins.
Putting on forgiveness absolutely requires that our sins be forgiven first, by God, through Christ. Since my sins have been forgiven, I must forgive others! We often think of the obligation of the offender, that he or she must seek forgiveness. Unrepentant offenders are certainly a blight to a community, but a great poison also is the person who refuses to forgive!

Finally-

"Put on... Love" The word here is AGAPE which means good will, benevolence toward others. It is rightly considered the highest form of love. In a way, practicing love will include all of the above traits. Putting on love will fuel compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, forgiveness, etc. This is why Paul says love “binds everything in perfect harmony”.

May the application of these verses be actualized in me and in you!

2 comments:

Frontier Forest said...

Dear “Spiritually, Well-Dressed Pastor Tony, you have heard me share these words before, but I certainly never tire of encouraging you! It wasn’t until you preached through the Book of Colossians, that the blessed expression, “The Supremacy of Christ” was made manifest in my own mind. “Making these thoughts captive, and obedient unto HIM,” for almost a year now, I have thought through the blessed and tender fruit of, compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, forgiveness and foremost, LOVE. After years of following the Lord, I can look forward with confidence, knowing I am finally beginning to comprehend the unfathomable riches of “The Supremacy of Christ!” The Lord has gently showed me through His Word, just how to take off many old layers of fleshy “fabricated” behavior. Now all of these things are from God, and I know in part, even before I was ready to wear them, HE has prepared, just for me, brand new clothes of grace. I am eager to “put on” His righteousness, step out in faith, conquering many new spiritual territories never before possible.

Rick Calohan said...

Growing in Grace daily, by His will and not my own I can see the transformation in myself. If left to my own devices and choices I would not be the Christian I profess to be. However, His Grace by the Holy Spirit, has regenerated me to faith. I am also being transformed in on ongoing process called sanctification; by acknowledging my sin (falling short of the mark) I am brought to repentance; I am justified by His (Christ) righteousness and not my own, so that when I am finally called home I am Glorified in Christ.

Underneath the portrait of John Calvin at Redeemer is a quote from the prophet Jeremiah that I have taken to heart. It reads: Jeremiah 9: 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

As John Calvin reminds us also from the first epistle of Paul to the church in Corinth:

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” -- 1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20

“We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us, therefore, not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us, therefore, forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us, therefore, live for Him and die for Him. We are God’s: let His wisdom and will, therefore, rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life, accordingly, strive toward Him as our only lawful goal.”
-- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1539)

Knowing all this let us strive by his Grace to live accordingly to Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

May God speak to us with His Holy Word and may His name be forever praised Amen.