Title: The Christian’s Responsibility: A Picture of the Church
Text: Colossians 3.10-17
The Big Idea for today: Believers, you are to take off the old self, lay it aside and dress yourselves with new virtues, which demonstrate toward others that same forgiveness, peace and love you experienced through Christ.
The Christians’ Responsibility is to follow a simple command: strip off and lay aside the old self and its practices, and to put on the virtues which represent the new self. Easily said. Hard work to accomplish! Easy to say, hard to do. I guess that’s the difference between those who talk the Christian life (because it is easier) and those who walk the Christian life (which is much harder).
I’m sure you’ve heard that before: don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk! I think that is where Paul is going here. This new life in Christ isn’t a word game. It’s a demonstration. We demonstrate the change in our lives through our actions. It’s what we do and how we respond.
I love the metaphor. It’s pretty common to Christian thought. Paul used it to describe dressing for war – putting on the full armor of God.
It’s an OT metaphor as well. The Lord found Israel, filthy and abused. He cleaned her up and put new garments on her. Listen to Ezekiel as he quotes from the Lord in 16.8ff: 8 “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine. 9 Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you and anointed you with oil. 10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.
What we’re seeing is nothing new to us, but a beautiful reminder! Undress, strip away, lay aside the old garments – they don’t represent the royalty you now are; you are sons and daughters of the King!
t.s.: let’s begin with the first step in this process Paul is taking us through:
I. The rationale behind this command is that y’all are a new people in a new family with a new name.
exp.: we finished up last week’s message with this point; rd v 10-11; you used to be identified by some other nomenclature. Now, you have a new title, new family, new friends. Rd v 12a; you’ve been chosen of God (KJV: elect); you are now ‘holy’; unconditionally loved.
ill.: I remember walking on the railroad tracks between two towns. They butted up to each other, and they were the same town on a map, but they represented two different people. There were names for each ‘town’ – names I can’t repeat this day. To soften it up, to not offend, but just to communicate, we were one of two white families that lived in colored town. It was the poor side of town and it was the only place my grandmother could afford. I’m sure it is that way in some places still, but it represented the south many decades ago.
One evening, me, my older brother and a few of the kids from that side of town were walking home. It was very late. …when we came across what you would call a gang. They surrounded us and I was so naïve, so green, I had no idea the trouble we were in. I was 11 years old and out at o dark thirty! Someone from that gang recognized my older brother and asked if he was the younger brother of Ricci – my oldest sibling. Ricci was a name those boys knew. And they wanted no part of him.
Suddenly, the demeanor of these guys changed. Jerry and their leader did the handshake for that day and bumped chests. We all laughed and went our separate ways.
app.: All because of someone’s name and reputation. Someone who was well known. He just happened to be my brother. In a very different way, but you now have a new name and you’re known by your brother’s reputation.
t.s.: And, you’re expected to act like him. That’s Point #2
II. Therefore, we are to dress ourselves with these virtues which characterize his nature.
exp.: you see those 5 listed in our text; rd 3.12b;
- Compassionate Hearts: he could have just said compassion. But really, these two words are used because they describe our Messiah’s compassion toward others. More lit.: mercy from the gut. You will read that his heart went out to them or that he had compassion on them. My favorite example is when he is entering Nain, and he encounters a funeral procession. The people are carrying the body of a man, the only son of a widow. And his heart went out to her. Luke 7 describes his compassion and his action toward her: a (as we would describe it) heartfelt compassion.
- Kindness: goodness, uprightness, excellence
- Humility – Phil 2.1-11
- Meekness – not weakness (bridled power); there is this picture of a mighty stallion which is led by its bridal. The Stallion is not weak, to say the least. It is not wild! It is tame and bridled.
app.: Patience, notice that patience is the first trait mentioned in the next verse
t.s.: which leads us to our next point concerning our responsibilities…
III. Furthermore, the actions we now take toward each other are to be the same actions he took toward us: patience, forgiveness and unconditional love.
exp.: whereas, these other virtues in 3.12 are exhibited in our lives, this short list in 3.13f is a list which describes the actions we take toward each other.
- Patience – listed again, and yes, these are two different words in the original language. The previous word found in 3.12 is longsuffering. A compound word meaning to endure suffering of some sort for a long period of time. This word in 3.13 describes putting up with each other. It’s how you are toward others.
ill.: After he finished smoking his cigarette, he moved toward the fellowship line to get his plate and sit with his family. He stood in line behind a family he knew and loved. And they loved him, too. So, they struck up a conversation. The Mrs., wanting to chide him about his smoking habit, gently nudged him with, “I noticed you put your cigarette out and joined us.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Came the deacon’s reply.
“And just where will you put out your cigarette in heaven?”
Without missing a beat, the deacon replied, “in your coffee cup!” As if to say: Hey, I’ve got my hang-ups, but you’ve got your own set of problems!
app.: bearing with one another, forgiving each other – and what is the standard of forgiveness? Just as Christ has forgiven each of us. The actions we now take toward each other are the same actions he took toward us: patience, forgiveness and unconditional love.
I don’t know about you, but when I take a moment at introspection – I’m amazed that God put up with me for so many years. His patience – in bearing with me! His Forgiveness! I haven’t just committed one sin. I haven’t just sinned once a day! It’s truly overwhelming! And His unconditional love…
Ill.: song by Big Daddy Weave: Overwhelmed! I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by you!
t.s.: And our brothers and sisters in Christ should be overwhelmed at our patience, forgiveness, and unconditional love. Finally, we see in this passage a picture…
IV. Here is a Picture of life in the body, this new family of God.
exp.: rd v 15f; Peace rule (2.18), Let Peace umpire; Gratitude, & the Word of God; w/ teaching, admonishing, singing; Summary: let everything you do glorify Him!
ill.: Some years ago I came across a picture of me with my family as a teenager and feelings of not fitting in flooded through me. I hadn’t noticed it before, but this time, it was bigger than Dallas to me. There was my dad and stepmom with my little sister, clumped together as one happy little family. I was off to the side, not fitting into their little family. I’m sure they didn’t really want to make me feel that way – that wasn’t their intention. But there it was none the less.
I saw the same thing with my brother Fred. He was showing me pictures and we came across one of him as a teen. There was his mom, with her arms wrapped around one child, and his stepdad, with his arms wrapped around the other child, all four closely formed together for a family photo. Fred was invited in, but he was further away and trying to reach in with his body. But, he was visibly distanced.
app.: I think it is just a thing that happens with step-families. Man meets woman and one of them brings a child in from their previous marriage. Man and woman begin a new family and the child is somehow isolated. Now, I’m sure there will be those who will debate this with me. But, I’m just telling you how it appears – to me and in the photos I’ve seen.
A side note – I visited with one young woman who never fit into either of her stepfamilies. Her dad and his new bride had a couple of children. They bought a home and started a life together. Had a couple of kids – a girl and a boy. Her mom did the same thing. I think her new family had two boys. This young lady, through her early childhood and teen years spent equal time with both families. During my time of counseling, it was made apparent that she never had a bedroom. Both families put her on the couch – the foldout! And, for all those years! Her pictures show the same. Her family photos show the same – from both families.
t.s.: But this is what a family photo is supposed to look like:
Conclusion: y’all, it ain’t that way with this family. While it is true that we all come from outside the family, when you join this family, you belong! This family photo displays all of the key elements: Peace, Thanksgiving & the Word of God dwells through teaching, admonishing and singing. Finally, brothers and sisters: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.