|"In Christ" quote for today|
|Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come -- II Corinthians 5:17.|
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Positive Words Newsletter
#142 / 27th August 2007
Expanding your awareness of
"the simplicity that is in Christ"
(II Corinthians 11:3)
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WHAT TO PUT ON
[Colossians 3 -- continued from issue 141]
We now come to Colossians chapter 3 and verse 12. In the previous section we were told to put off certain articles, certain negative limiting influences in our lives. Now we are told to put on certain things, and I think we can relate to this. Most of us actually spend a lot of money on our clothes. I can remember when I was growing up as a teenager living in England at the time, just 30 miles north of London. My elder sister and mother used to go to London to buy a new wardrobe for my sister who had reached those years when she was very fashion conscious. She would complain for weeks that she didn’t have a rag to wear, even though her wardrobe was full. So off they would go to London and would buy all these clothes in tune with whatever the family budget was at the time, but by the time they got back on the train to Chelmsford Station my sister would have swapped those clothes with our mother and it would start all over again! There are certain clothes for certain situations and Paul uses this illustration in Colossians chapter 3.
Let’s first look where we have been already. In the earlier part of Colossians we were told to put off certain things, and if you’ve been marking your Bible in verse 5 we were told to mortify or put to death certain activities in our lives. And then in verse 8 it says "now also put off all these" attitudes and wrong speech. You can see in the first ten verses that we have a wardrobe full of some very limiting situations, things that we should not have active in our lives. In verse 11 we are encouraged with the fact that since we have Christ in us, since Christ is all and in all, then we have no need for those kind of activities in our lives. We should be willing to be different. And we should throw out some of those old unwanted clothes and fill up the other side of the wardrobe with some better things that we need to put on.
Now, in verses 12 to 17 Paul uses the figure of garments. I don’t know about you, but I don’t wear everything that I need for any situation that I will run across. For example, I like to spend time on the beach when the weather is good. I used to go for a run every day. Now, I don’t wear my speedos under my suit and I don’t wear my running shorts and top under all this wonderful resplendent splendor, and you don’t either. You dress for whatever situation or activity you’re involved in. As I was thinking about this passage it seemed to me that we could illustrate this with keys. We have a bunch of keys and we select the right key for the right occasion; then we have the ability to get into anywhere we want. We have the whole range of keys but we only use the one we need at a particular point in time. And I think that’s the situation that we see here in verses 12 to 14 -- the situations we run across and the right key to handle them.
Verse 12 say "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved..." "Put on" -- underline that in your Bible because this is a command, not a suggestion. God is saying to you to put on something because you are the elect of God. Now you say, I don’t remember being voted in. Well, the wording means you’re chosen by God. You’re God’s chosen ones. And he chose you because he loved you. That’s what the Bible tells us.
Notice what God says in Deuteronomy chapter 7, where He describes why he took particular care of the nation of Israel. Verse 7 reads, "It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers." So even back there in Old Testament times God blessed the nation of Israel because God loved them. And I could go to New Testament verses where it says that God loves every human being. The administration has changed and God is working with individuals and not nations, and God loves everybody. He chose us not because we were handsome or because we were brilliant. He chose us because he loved us. He saw in us potential and He loved us. So that’s where this passage starts. We are chosen of God, we are holy, that is, set apart, and we are loved. If you don’t get anything else out of this teaching, have these words ringing in your ears -- "You are loved". There is at least one person who loves you. And if you have more than one then you are extremely blessed, you are greatly loved. But at least one person loves you, and that person is God.
The first key is compassion, "bowels of mercy" in the good old King James version. Put on compassion. Do you understand what compassion is? Surely you do. It means that instead of standing on your rights or letting somebody else worry about a situation, on occasion have some mercy and do an impulsive act of compassion. Notice that these first eight keys all relate to our dealings with other people. They relate to those who are around us. Put on compassion. Use it. There will be an occasion this week when you need to use compassion.
And secondly it says, put on kindness. This is a Christian philosophy. Be kind to somebody. It doesn’t take long. Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of effort. Think of some way in which you can be kind to somebody this week. I remember a wonderful advertisement on television. It was about two business men with their briefcases rushing into the airport in order to catch their plane. A little boy with his jigsaw puzzle and toys unfortunately happens to get knocked by one of the briefcases, and they go all over the floor. One man turns around to come back and pick them up, and the other fellow says, "Oh, God. What are you doing?" And when he stops and picks them up the little boy says, "Thank you, God". What a great example. Spend a little kindness. Helps make the world go around. It’s one of those positive keys to Christian living that you can use.
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Thirdly, in verse 12, it speaks about humility, or humbleness of mind (KJV). Of course, all these things start in the mind anyway. Be humble. There’s a lot of people who are proud of their humbleness. That is, they try to overdisplay their humbleness and they become quite a pain in the neck by doing so. The Bible says to put on humility. Remember who you are. Don’t get a high opinion of yourself. Don’t be a legend in your own mind. Be humble. Remember that you are a unique human being that God has made, but remember also your fellow human beings are unique too! They too have self esteem. They too have great potential, so be humble and just thank God for the light that you have received so far along life’s road.
The next key is meekness, and this is the one that everybody complains about. Should a Christian let everybody walk all over them? No! Jesus talked about meekness, and yet I would remind you that He went into the Temple, got hold of a whip, and cleaned that place up in a typical Rambo kind of fashion. And yet he taught meekness. So what is meekness? Meekness is power under control. The Message Bible paraphrases it as "quiet power", and many other translations employ the word "gentleness".
The Greek word is used in three different situations. It is used first of a soothing wind. A nice cool breeze on the beach at Waikiki in the evening. It’s also used of a healing medicine. And it’s used of a colt that has been broken. Yet in all those things there is power but it’s under control. There’s power in the wind to cool. There’s power in the medicine to heal, and there’s power in the colt that is controlled. Meekness is power under control. You have incredible power. You’ve got power to bless and power to hurt people. You’ve got power in the words you say. Words can work wonders and words can work blunders. Let’s use this power but let’s keep it under control. That’s what meekness is all about.
And then we come to the fifth key, longsuffering. We’ve all done that, haven’t we? In fact, we’ve probably worn that key out! The Greek word actually means "long temper". Now you can understand that. You know what it is when a person has a short temper, right? We say short because we use the figure of the fuse. The fuse is short and if you light that fuse the explosion is pretty rapid. And what we should have is a long fuse on our temper. We should be long-tempered, longsuffering towards other people. They can’t hurt you. The only thing that can happen to you is that you give power to their actions to have an effect on you. Just like circumstances. Circumstances can have no effect upon you unless you give them power to have effect upon you. That’s a psychological principle. And other people can’t hurt you. I know other people can say things about you but it’s your reaction that will hurt you and it won’t worry them one little bit. Be long-suffering. Be long-tempered. Many translations use the word "patient".
And then also have forbearance, number six. "Bearing with one another" (verse 13) -- yes, haven’t we done that a lot? The Greek word means to hold back. Hold back yourself when you feel you need to give that person a large slab of your mind. Hold back. Have forbearance. "Some mornings I wake up grumpy; other mornings I let him sleep him!"
Number seven is forgiveness. "If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Forgiveness. How much has Christ forgiven you? The answer has to be everything. And it says even as Christ forgave you, so also do to others. Let’s be forgiving one to another. I have noticed that even in a church situation people do things that hurt at times and we have to forgive them. Sometimes people do things based on false information. Sometimes they do things because they just haven’t thought it through from another person’s point of view. Let’s be forgiving. Let’s not start a World War over the situation but be forgiving, let it settle down because it’s your prosperity and your successful life that really is at stake.
Now, verse 14 "and above all..." What does that mean? On top of the seven we have already read. Using the clothing illustration, it would mean having put on all these undergarments, put on over all of them this outer garment that holds them all together. "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." Love is the Greek word "agape", the God kind of love. Put it on. I call this the master key, and I would say to you if you haven’t got room to carry all the eight keys around, just take love. Love fixes all of them. Love takes care of compassion. Love takes care of kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, and forgiveness. Above all these things use the key of love.
Some of you might remember the hit song a few decades back by Hal David, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of." That is true. And what we need is more love in action. We need more people showing forth their love. And God has given us a special kind of love. It’s a love that can love the unlovely. As William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, used to say, "Go for souls and go for the worst." And his attitude was that it was God’s love in his heart that enabled him to love the alcoholic in the street gutter, to love the prostitute, to love all those who were really what we call "down and outs". And that same kind of love also is need for those that we call the "up and outs" as well, the yuppies and geeks and all those in between. God’s love is in our hearts according to Romans 5:5, so put on love, put it into practice. Now let me say it again. This is not a suggestion, it’s a command. And if you want to live positively in a negative world, then start seeing of it through the eyes of love. -- Peter Wade.
[To be continued]
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