ˇ°SPIRITUAL IN OUR INNER QUALITYˇ± By Pastor YAU
Text: Colossians 3:12-17 August 24, 2014.
1) This is something important: For those of us who need to go to work in the morning or a dinner party, we all want to look good and appropriate. This is a challenge more evident to women than to men. We men are much easier to know what to put on: a shirt, a suit and a tie. If we have to wear that same suit for the whole week, or we had wore that same suit to church or to a party last Sunday, most likely we won't feel anything odd about that. But that might not be the case with ladies. They have a much bigger choice of outfits from clothing to shoes, from handbags to jewelries and all other accessories. They are more particular on styles, colors, and make sure they are in fashion and all well coordinated, etc. It takes a good amount of wisdom and time to make a lady feel good in what she will wear that day for that particular function. It is important that we put on something nice and appropriate for the occasion we are going.
2) This is something more important: From the point of view sets forth in the Bible, what we put on each day for any occasion isn't important at all. What we put on are things on the outside and it is all on how we feel and for others to see. What God want to see is our inside and we are to please God other than to please people. Man looks at us on the outside, but God looks on the inside. Dress up nicely is nothing wrong, but why do we want to impress man more than impress God? Anything on the outside may not be real. We need to be reminded by God as did prophet Samuel. All things on the outside are all temporary, but everything on the inside lasts forever. If we want to make ourselves look good to God, we need to focus on what we put on in our heart before God. The text today will teach us what to put on in our inside.
WE NEED TO KNOW OUR STATUS: We all know that it is important to dress appropriately in accordance with our status in the eyes of man. It is also important for us to know our spiritual status so we may put on things that are appropriate in the eyes of God.
1) We are God's chosen people: ˇ°Therefore, as God's chosen people.ˇ± (3:12) Chosen is from ekkletos which is from ekklesia, those who were called out. There are two important connotations in this word: a) chosen as special over the ordinary in the world. b) chosen for particular purpose, a mission. So we are not just like all other people in the world, we are special in God's eyes. Then we are chosen for a reason and purpose, God's reason and purpose. We as a group of God's chosen people, we need to treasure our special status and to adhere to the purpose God has chosen us. Many Americans moan the loss of the sense of ˇ°exceptionalismˇ± as a nation, and the accompanying loss of the sense of being the lone super power of the world that bears all the responsibilities of protecting the world. I believe it isn't that important for the United States to be exceptional to the world, but it is very important for us to know that we are exceptional of being chosen people of God and bear God's purpose to the world, that is to lead the world back to God.
2) We are God's holy people: ˇ°Holyˇ± comes from hagios in Greek which means to be set apart for special use. Just as you have some special dinner ware you keep for very special occasions. When ˇ°holyˇ± applies to people, it isn't the same as ˇ°holyˇ± applied to God. When the Bible calls believers of Jesus ˇ°saintsˇ± or ˇ°holy people,ˇ± it doesn't mean we are blameless, pure with no blemish, but it means we are ˇ°being set partˇ± by God for his special use. This is about ˇ°the purposeˇ± of God in our life. We are chosen with a special purpose, set apart from ordinary use like others in the world. Therefore it is imperative for us to seek God's revelation on ˇ°what and howˇ± God may use each one of us to fulfill his purpose in us.
3) We are dearly loved by God: ˇ°Dearly lovedˇ±, from hegapemenoi, having been loved by God. This is about our relationship with God and how he sees us in his heart. As God's chosen people, set apart for special use, God loves us from the day we accepted his call, all the way to eternity. Being loved by God is a huge privilege and honor. God shows us his love by sending his Son to die on the cross to redeem us from our sins. We all long to be loved by people who are important to us. How much more when we are loved by God.
WE NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO PUT-ON: (3:12-14)
In these 3 verses, Paul lists seven important, beautiful spiritual outfits God wants to put on. If we put on one of them each day of the week, we may do it again and again each week of the year, then we have no worry what to put on to be effective witnesses for our Lord.
1) Put on a heart of compassion: Heart, spanxna, better be ˇ°belly or bowelsˇ± the center of compassion or mercy, oiktimos, like the Good Samaritan had mercy on the one who was robbed, beaten and left to die. This is about our inner being of merciful, caring on the inside, the heart. What kind of people we are or need to be, loving, caring, compassionate and merciful.
2) Put on a heart of kindness: Kindness, xrestoteta, means ˇ°light weightˇ± as ˇ°my yoke is lightˇ±, said Jesus, in Matt 11:30. This is about how we touch others with care, both is word, actions and attitude, particularly to those who are hurting and weak. These people don't need hash words of condemnation on their failures. They need our soft touch and kind words of encouragement.
3) Put on a heart of humility: Humility comes from tapeinothrosunen, means taking a lower position. True humility is more than just an abstract term, but an action to demonstrate the inner attitude. How often we are tempted to take a high, prestigious, authoritative position when we relate to others. The best example of humility is Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. This is about our attitude to others: We are to see others as higher or better than ourselves. (Phil 2:3)
4) Put on a heart of gentleness: Gentleness is from prauteta, means soft touch in action. The first three are about inner attitude, this one is about how to show our inner attitude of compassion, kindness and humility in action. Soft doesn't mean weak. Taking a soft approach in relationship or witnessing usually bring in much better results.
5) Put on a heart of patience: Patience, makrothumian, is about our attitude to others, particularly when we are being taken advantage or suffer loss. It is easy to be patient when things are going our way, like Snoopy said. Patience is much needed when we are hurt because of foul play of others.
6) Put on the heart of forgiving: ˇ°Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.ˇ± (3:13) ˇ°Bearingˇ± and ˇ°forgivingˇ± is part of life in this world regardless if you have offended others or had been offended by others. We all have said words or done things that are inappropriate or even hurtful to others. We need to forgive others as the Lord has forgiven us unconditionally, completely and forget them all.
7) Put on a heart of love: ˇ°And over all these virtues, put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity.ˇ± (3:14) ˇ°Bindingˇ± is like ˇ°beltingˇ±, group them together with a belt of love. Love is the super glue of Christian virtues. If there is love, there is hope for unity. God has the wisdom to put LOVE at the bottom of the list like a foundation that holds all other virtues in Christian living together. Paul summed up the importance in Christian living in love in Romans 13:8, ˇ°Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.ˇ±
THE RESULTS OF PROPERLY DRESSED: (3:15-17)
1) Ruled by the peace of Christ: ˇ°Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.ˇ± (3:15) Peace among God's people is a great concern of Jesus that he prayed for peace among his disciples in John 17 before he was betrayed and crucified. Peace among all members of churches still is a great concern of many churches. Paul put this as the first fruit of all virtues as a starting point to remind us the importance of peace and unity among God's people. Many of God's people couldn't live in peace need to relearn to put on this spiritual ˇ°clothingˇ± and to put it on each day so they may have peace and unity in their churches.
2) Live by the word of Christ: ˇ°Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom.ˇ± (3:16) If you believed in Jesus for a number of years, you certainly will know that the most difficult part of being a Christian isn't about how much you know the word of God but how much you ˇ°liveˇ± by the word of God. To know God's word isn't that hard compare to live by the word of God. Living by God's word means obeying the word in our everyday life. The first fruit above is about how we relate to each other in peace. Here the second fruit is about how we live with each other in our everyday life according to the word of God. Do we only learn the word in classes at church, or do we live by the word outside of the church?
3) Do all in the name of Christ: ˇ°And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.ˇ± (3:17) There are several aspects the phrase ˇ°in the name ofˇ± means. First, it is in the ˇ°authorityˇ± of the name we do things. Second, it means ˇ°according to the nameˇ± we say words or do things in action ˇ°accordingˇ± or obeying the name. Third, it means ˇ°for the nameˇ± we do, say or work. This is about ˇ°the purposeˇ± of our doing and saying, all for ˇ°that name.ˇ± Be it the authority or accordance or purpose, all we do and say and work are ˇ°in the name of Jesus Christ.ˇ± Always keep in mind that our life, word, deeds are in Him and for Him. Most people do things for themselves we Christians should do things for the Lord. By putting on the seven virtues each day, we will be able to do all the above in his name.
APPLICATIONS OF TRUTH:
1) Be wrapped in virtues: ˇ°Clothe or put-onˇ± enduo means to wrap around or to stuff in like placing a pillow in a case. If we can use the seven virtues as pillowcases and wrap ourselves inside of them, we will be able to live our lives in that glorious name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we are wrapped around by the virtues of the Spirit, we are no long of ourselves but of the Lord. We won't fight for the rights of ourselves, but for that of the Lord. We won't insist on doing things our way but the way of the Lord. We won't try to show off any thing for our glory but for the glory of the Lord. That is really a Christian life.
2) Put into practice each day: Just as we choose what to wear each morning, we need to choose one virtue to put on each day so we may shine in the place God assigns us to live, to work, to study or to serve. If we can do that as we take vitamin supplements each morning, and do it on a regular basis, we will soon be stronger, healthier, happier and more capable to be true witnesses.