Hi, this is pastor Ken, and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Wakey, Wakey…Eggs and Bakey…
Colossians 3:12-14 in the New Living Translation (NLT) reads as follows; God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
I was thinking today as I got up with the alarm and headed down the stairs to let the dogs out, start the coffee and begin the day just how different it was when we still had our five children living at home. This morning as I ambled about the kitchen preparing breakfast, ours and the dog’s it was much quieter than it used to be. Sunday mornings used to be the most fun for me. I would rise early and go through the upstairs hallway singing in a playfully obnoxiously loud voice, “O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, because He first loved me”. The purpose of my poorly attended concert was to awaken the kids so they could get ready for our customary family breakfast, then get dressed and ready themselves to go to church.
It is a song most of us know well, and contained in its stanza is revelatory truth and realization. We hold to the heart cry of every Christ follower, we love Jesus, but acknowledge that would not even be possible if He had not first loved us. So what does the referenced scripture say ought to be the result of His choosing to love us first?
He wants us to get up and get dressed, and He has some specific things He would like us to wear.
Tenderhearted mercy, this garment speaks of a heart of compassion. Our Lord desires that we see people the same way He does. His mercy for us is new every morning…even though we all failed to completely live up to it the day before. Just as He shows us mercy…over and over again…He expects that we will do the same for each other. His call for our mercy is to be like His…never ending and from a tender heart toward the recipients.
Kindness, the absence of selfishness. Jesus wants us to be selfless because it shows off the wardrobe of kindness. Kindness requires that we give of ourselves to others. It is an impossibility to show genuine kindness to someone without considering what is in their best interest…which means we have just laid down our own for theirs…selfless activity.
Humility, as I have noted to you before, is the currency in the economy of the Kingdom of God. If Kindness is a shirt…this is an under-shirt. As noted above, it takes the ability to esteem others higher than ourselves (which is humility) to genuinely show true kindness. Jesus spoke numerous times as to the necessity of humility to find our place in His kingdom. He knew that there is a richness of life only found when we see others as more valuable than ourselves.
Gentleness, or as some translations say, meekness is not a garment of weakness. It actually requires unusual might. This is a muscle shirt. How? It takes great strength to deny yourself and elevate others. Gentleness is akin to humility with one additional characteristic, a desire to treat the one being elevated with kid gloves. It is the defining quality shown in the story of The Good Samaritan. The ability to be careful with the one we are helping even if it makes our own life more difficult is the result of gentleness.
Patience, other versions use the word longsuffering which probably conjures up a more accurate mental image of this piece of clothing. Longsuffering is the ability to exercise patience under someone’s heavy provocation for the long haul. This can be a particularly uncomfortable piece of clothing at first, challenging to wear, and yet oddly pleasing. It is so because it is only worn by the obedient, and Christ always, always, always…did I say always rewards our obedience with enough grace to carry on with further obedience knowing that it pleases Him.
After we have gotten dressed, it’s time to go. Where? To practice. Now that we have on the correct uniform…it’s time to hit the practice field. We are to use the garments we have just put on to practice making allowances for each other’s imperfections. We all have faults, we all offend, so it’s nearly impossible for us not be offended from time to time. We live in a world full of irritants…I mean…others, but the clothes Christ asks us to wear give us the ability through His Spirit living inside us, doing the necessary remodeling in our hearts, to treat each other like He wants us to. So just as He has forgiven us, we must forgive others. No one person will ever be able to offend you more than you, in darkness, have offended God. We will always owe more to His forgiveness toward us than anyone will ever, ever owe us.
It’s a cold world out there…so over it all most importantly…put on the covering of love. Love is the coat that insulates us from the self-centered desire to treat others with contempt, anger, bitterness and selfishness in response to their misdeeds toward us, and warms our hearts to be like minded with Christ and see the world around us as being in desperate need of His tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness illustrated through our lives.
So now, fully dressed in the prescribed uniform…Go be awesome!