Devotional - Living The Christian Life - Lessons From Colossians - Part Four

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Since 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. - Colossians 3: 12-13 (NLT)

    Continuing on in the exposition of the opening of the third chapter of Paul's letter to the Church at Colossae we come to verses 12 and 13. In the last devotional we saw the various things we must take off, or get rid of now that Christ is all that should matter in our lives. God never merely provides one side of the story and today we will see that there are things we must "put on" as well to live the victorious Christian life we hear so much about as believers. Verse twelve however reveals a deeper truth first. We are not saved to be ordinary. We are not saved to behave as the rest of the world does. We are saved to be holy people, whom God loves. This shows us that there are two sides to this relationship with God. One of the greatest problems within the seeker friendly world of churchianity is that it cheapens the love of God. It seeks to separate out the truth of God from His love and there can be no such separation:

    Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. - 2John 1: 3 (NLT)

    Christianity requires something from us. It requires us to strive to be different. It requires us to strive for holiness. The definition of holy is to be set apart for God. God did not save us to be fence sitters - half in the world and half in the faith. God most certainly loves us with an everlasting love but when you strip out our requirement of holiness from the equation you are left with an unbalanced love. A love that does not require anything of us does not set us apart from the world. God loves us so much that He does not want us to return to the ways of the world. He does not want us living lives steeped in sin, devoid of His power. So often we can find ourselves outside the realm of living the victorious Christian life because we are part time Christians. We play the part. We go to church. We make our offerings. We serve in a purpose driven ministry. Then we go home and dabble in whatever the world still offers us and think that it is somehow OK. Trouble and struggle we can expect but victory is still promised.

    I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” - John 16: 33 (NLT)

    We cannot overcome the world through Christ if we insist on staying in it. If we insist on straddling the fence. Holiness is not a part time endeavor. It requires all of our attention to be focused on God not on the trappings of this world. How do we get there? We start by purposing in our heart what we are going to "wear." We saw this analogy started in the last devotional when we discussed all of the anger, rage and malice we need to make sure we take off but here Paul shows us what we need to put on as well. The clothing picture shows us that it must be a conscious decision on our part every single day. The enemy never stops in his relentless attacks on us and we need to be just as relentless in making sure we are wearing the right clothes.

    The first garment we are to put on is tenderhearted mercy. The King James Version says "bowels" of mercy, indicating the depth from which our mercy must derive. It cannot be superficial. It cannot be dependent upon anything other than the mercy God has already shown us. Even though he had evangelized the known world Paul considered himself the least of the Apostles because he "once persecuted the church." Too many Christians display no mercy because we forget where God found us. We start to think that we somehow earned the righteousness of Christ even though the Bible says our righteousness is but filthy rags. When the world views the church too often they see a very unforgiving, unyielding, and judgmental set of people. It is not our job to convict the world of their sin - it is our job to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. The world is cruel and unmerciful so the church must be the opposite - tender hearted and abounding in mercy. Churches were not meant to be entertainment venues for the saved but rather triage units for the lost. How important is mercy to God? It is one of the three things He requires from us:

    No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,and this is what he requires of you:to do what is right, to love mercy,and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6: 8 (NLT)

    Notice that it is not required merely to show mercy or to be merciful. No beloved - we are supposed to love mercy. It is supposed to be deep down inside of us. That God showed us His mercy should motivate us to want to show the same mercy to everyone else. Instead the devil has Christians demanding their "rights" in a world that we are no longer supposed to be citizens of. He has us showing disdain or hatred to the very people we are charged with presenting the Gospel to! I saw a mega church pastor recently preach in a sermon that all atheists should get out of the country! That is a strange evangelistic style! The truth is it is not evangelism. It is hatred pure and simple and a love for this temporal world over the love of Christ. It is merciless - the opposite of what we are supposed to clothe ourselves with.

    Secondly, we are to cloth ourselves with kindness and humility. Realize that because we must choose to clothe ourselves with these traits then we are by default not like this naturally. We are not kind by nature. We are not humble by nature. The world sees enough mean-spiritedness. They do not need to see it from the church as well. Unfortunately, some of the meanest spirits I have encountered are in the church as well. Condemning spirits. Chastising spirits. This is nothing new:

    As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.So they went on to another village. - Luke 9: 51-56 (NLT)

    Can you imagine? The Apostles see first hand the kindness of the ministry of Jesus Christ and still think it is acceptable to rain down fiery judgment upon those who did not want to accept Christ? Sound familiar? What about pride now? It seems everyone today has declared themselves an Apostle or Prophet. Pastors are taught within the theories of church growth that they are a CEO more than a pastor! So many want to serve in the most visible of ministries, displaying their piousness for all to see. This is not new either. The Apostles were always debating which among them would be considered the greatest! Jesus teaches us all:

    “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. - Matthew 6: 1-4 (NLT)

    We have become a trumpet blowing church. Pronouncing our good deeds for all to see. Beloved, the world is all about self promotion but the church is supposed to be about Christ-promotion! We must clothe ourselves with kindness and humility. Thirdly, we are to put on the garments of gentleness and patience. Take a look at this on display when the Pharisees brought Jesus a woman caught in the act of adultery:

    “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” - John 8: 4-11 (NLT)

    Look at the frustration shown by the accusers at the gentleness and patience Jesus is displaying. They had to keep demanding an answer until Jesus cut them right to their own sinful hearts. But He did so with a scalpel, not a chain saw. Far too often we use the Bible as a blunt instrument to smack someone over the head instead of the two edged sword it was meant to be. Beloved the unsaved people of the world see enough brutality in their lives. They need to see gentleness from us. They see enough intolerance in their lives. They need to see patience from us. Christianity has become far too immersed in the politics of man - something Jesus never did. There are swaths of denominations who believe in dominionist theology, where the church prepares the world for the second coming of Christ. This is pure heresy. We are to be patient regardless of what treatment we might be receiving:

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. - Romans 12: 12 (NIV)

    Patient even when we are being afflicted! These are garments we must choose to put on if we are to represent Christ. They are the garments we are supposed to wear to live the Christian life we are called to.

    Verse 13 deals with one of the end results of clothing ourselves properly - we must take it to action. We must be a forgiving people. You cannot clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and then somehow not be forgiving by nature! Not only are we called to be forgiving but we are to make allowance for the faults of others. We are to expect the faults of others not take offense at them. Other versions say we are supposed to bear with each other. Beloved - we are supposed to put up with one another. The Bible actually says we are to bear one another's burdens! Instead of saying "I'll pray for you"; we are actually supposed to stop our lives and pray for them. Faith without works is dead.

    Unfortunately, we can be so easily offended in the church. Another of the grievous problems created from the seeker friendly theories of church growth is that it makes Christianity to be about me instead of it being about Christ. We start thinking the church should accommodate me. We start thinking that our purposed ministry somehow belongs to me. Then inevitably something does not go our way and we get hurt. We get offended. Invariably we then leave the church. Never mind that it teaches sound doctrine because we are more important than the God we claim to serve. We pack our bags and take our offended spirit to another church and proceed to bleed all over that one as well. Make allowances. Forgive any offense.

    Why? Because of what Jesus Christ has forgiven us! So we come full circle again. The easiest way to not be clothed in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience is to forget where Jesus Christ found you. Paul remembered that Jesus found him presiding over the deaths of Christians, including Stephen the first martyr. Many have speculated over what the thorn was in Paul's flesh that the enemy used to torment him. I have always felt it was the memories of who he was before Christ and the havoc he wreaked upon the church he now loved. The only way to survive that and overcome that is through His grace, which is always sufficient for us.

    I remember the bar God found me in. I remember the mess I had made of my life and how God restored not only my soul but my life as well. But living this new life on a daily basis requires something of me. It requires a new wardrobe. It requires that I put off the things of my flesh and clothe myself in the the things of God. Easy? No beloved, it is not easy. But what does the Lord require should be the only question that matters now.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - February 16, 2014

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