­­­Colossians Study – Session 9

CrossPointe Community Church – Denton, TX

March 17, 2013 - Larry Reynolds, Teacher

 

3.     Put on the virtues of the new nature (3:12-17) – “And so, as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved...”...need pause there just for moment... three special words are used in that statement to describes Christians — “chosen...holy...beloved...” ...those are words used in the OT to describe the special relationship the nation Israel had with God...the Jewish people were called out by God, set apart to be God’s priestly people, and loved in a special way by God...and in using these words to describe Christians (Jewish and Gentile alike) Paul is saying, “As believers in Christ, you now enjoy that unique, special, favored standing before God once reserved for the nation Israel.  You are God’s chosen, holy, and beloved ones.” 

 

And as such, there are some qualities that should characterize your lives.  This paragraph picks up on the image of discarding soiled garments (3:8 – “…put them all aside…” and 3:12 – “…put on…”

 

In those verses are listed eight beautiful qualities...they seem to come in sets of two:

--compassion and kindness...

--humility and gentleness...

--patience and forbearance...

--forgiveness and loves...

 

Want to say at the very outset that these qualities do not naturally exist inside of us...and we can’t conjure them up by human effort...they actually run contrary to, cut across the grain of our basic human nature... we cannot have these qualities in our lives on a consistent basis unless God produces them in us...Actually they are gifts...gifts that God desires to produce in our hearts...we see them demonstrated in the life of Jesus and as we allow God to make us more like Jesus, then these gifts become evident in our lives as well...

 

1)  COMPASSION - The phrase “heart of compassion” in v.12 is very interesting... the KJV translates the phrase “bowels of mercies” which is really a good translation...the word rendered “heart” doesn’t refer to just that muscle which pumps blood through our bodies...it was used to describe the inward parts of the human body which react in a physical way to some external stimulus...it’s like that sinking, heavy feeling you get when you are exposed to some horrible news or that buoyant, light feeling you get when exposed to some wonderful news...“Compassion” means mercy, tenderness, pity toward those who are suffering...one writer says that taken together, the two words mean that Christians are to “have a deep, gut-level feeling” toward those in need... [MacArthur, p.155]...

 

     This is a quality which was often demonstrated in the life of Jesus...Matthew 9:36 says of Him, “And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.”...and this is a quality of compassion which was so evident in the life of Jesus is a quality God desires to reproduce in us...

 

2)  KINDNESS - Genuine compassion always leads to action...and that is where “kindness” comes in...one writer says compassion is how we feel toward others and kindness is what we do as a result of those feelings...The word translated “kindness” in Colossians 3:12 was used in the ancient world to describe wine which had grown mellow with age...wine which over time had lost its harshness...and from that use can learn that as we receive God’s gift of kindness in our lives and pass it along to others, we will become less harsh and more tolerant in spirit...

o   It's interesting how in Proverbs 3 the Bible links kindness and truth together..."Do not let kindness and truth leave you..."...truth, apart from kindness, can be brutal...haven't you known people who delighted in "speaking the truth" especially when it's a truth about a fault or short‑coming of another?...such truth telling apart from kind spirit can rip people apart...

o   And it's interesting how Micah ties together the concepts of kindness and justice...Micah 6:8 ‑ "...and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness..."...justice, apart from kindness, becomes intolerable legalism...

     If God is producing in us this quality of kindness, it will  show in our disposition toward people...instead of being harsh, rigid, intolerant, there will be a softness of spirit about us...we will have what one writer calls a "sweetness of  disposition"...

 

     That's the way God has chosen to relate to us...in  the NT the word translated kindness in Col. 3:12 is  used 10 times...6 times it refers to God's kindness  directed toward us...since God has chosen to relate  to us with kindness rather than harshness, that's how  we should relate to each other...

 

3)    HUMILITY – The word that is translated “humility” in v.12 is interesting word...nowhere is it used in classical Greek with a positive connotation...because of that it has been said that humility is a virtue created by and introduced to the world through Christianity...“Humility” has nothing to do with self-depreciation...the truly humble person is not the one who goes through life with head hung low and shoulders stooped...being humble doesn’t mean that we—

--put ourselves down...

--beat up on ourselves...

--think we have no value..

--think lowly of ourselves...

     Instead, “humility” is the kind of spirit which recognizes who we really are...it recognizes that we are not God...we are not the Creators, we are the created ones...it’s the kind of spirit expressed by the psalmist when he proclaimed, “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” [Psalm 100:3]

 

     And understanding that results in a life of quiet confidence in, steady trust in God...”humility” means placing our lives in God’s hands with a spirit of utter confidence and complete trust...and the opposite of “humility” is arrogant self-sufficiency...

 

4)    GENTLENESS – The word translated “gentleness” in v.12 is rendered “meekness” in many older translations of the Bible... that’s not really a good translation for our day because in most of our vocabularies meekness equals  weakness...word meek brings to mind timid person,  afraid speak out, afraid defend ideas, afraid be  least bit assertive...

 

     Word translated “gentleness” is "prautes”...had nothing to do with weakness... was used describe strength that was controlled or  channeled...two examples of its use in secular Greek will cast some light on this...

‑‑used describe Roman soldier in full battle gear but  who was in complete control of self...strong enough  not be provoked into senseless confrontation...

‑‑powerful horse which had been broken...had bit in mouth and rider on back...power was channeled to‑ ward useful purpose...

      “Prautes” has nothing do with weakness...has everything to do with strength under control...As followers of Christ we have been given the gift of gentle strength...that means that we will--

‑‑be considerate of others ‑ One person defined this quality as an "understanding gentleness"...like that...kind of spirit which asks, "What can I do to make life better for someone else? How lighten their load? How keep from wounding them?" [Philippians 2:3-4]

‑‑not be given to fits of temper ‑ Aristotle defined  "prautes" as the happy median between too much and too little anger... never angry  at wrong things but always angry at right things...while some people may pride themselves in being  quick tempered, not a virtue in Christian sense...

‑‑be courageous enough to appear weak ‑ One person defined "prautes" as a “powerful weakness”...it's picture of person who doesn't feel need to prove self constantly...doesn't have make lot of noise or to posture to prove is he/she strong...as matter of fact, person who is always trying demonstrate how strong is, probably trying to cover insecurity about weakness...

 

5) PATIENCE - The word translated “patience” in v.12 is makrothumia...that is a compound work...makro means long...thumos means passion, temper, wrath, or rage...so putting those together, makrothumia means to be long-tempered or slow to anger...it is just the opposite of short-tempered...this word describes a person who is in control of himself/herself...

 

      Patience is built on the conviction God is at work in His world and in our lives...it comes from basing our lives on idea God is  trustworthy and that ultimately His way is  best...one person put it this way: [Patience is] "living out the belief that God orders  everything for the spiritual good of his children.  Patience does not just grin and bear things, stoic‑like, but [it does view whatever may come] as a therapeutic workout planned by a heavenly trainer who is resolved to get you up to full fitness." (p.48, Walking Straight in  a Crooked World)

 

      Patience begins with our attitude toward God...if we have confidence in God...if we really believe God has our best interests at heart, then patience is not nearly so difficult...and while patience begins with our attitude toward God but it leads to a changed attitude toward people...William Barclay defines “patience” with this beautiful statement:  It is the quality of mind and heart which enables a  [person] so to bear with people that their unpleasant‑ ness and maliciousness and cruelty will never drive him  to bitterness, that their unteachableness and foolish­ness will never drive him to despair, that their folly  will never drive him to irritation, and that their un‑ loveliness will never alter his love.  Makrothumia is  the spirit which never loses patience with, belief in,  and hope for [people].

 

      Some older English translations render “makrothumia” as “long-suffering”...not at all a bad translation because the word means to have the ability and willingness to suffer long with people...and that’s where the quality on this list of eight qualities comes in...

 

6)    BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER – The word translated “bearing with” in v.13 has three nuances of meaning--

·       To lift up each other - This is the most noble use of the word...to take someone who is floundering, sinking, being overwhelmed, and in patience stand beside, encourage, lift up that person...

·       To put up with each other - This is not quite as noble as lifting someone up, but sometimes it’s the best we can do... one writer says the failure of Christians to put up with things we dislike is “probably the most prolific cause of Christian division...” [Moulton quoted by Vaughn, p.100]

·       To hold ourselves back from each other - Least noble use of the word...don’t lift up others...don’t even put up with others ...but, at least, we don’t rip each other apart!...

     Think how much better our homes/churches/communities/world  would be if we all allowed God's Spirit to produce  this wonderful quality of “bearing with” others in our lives...

 

7)    FORGIVING EACH OTHERSeveral weeks ago we looked at Colossians 2:13 which says, “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”...now in Colossians 3:13 we are told that because we are forgiven people, we must be forgiving people...understanding how much the Lord has forgiven us should create in us a predisposition to be forgiving toward others...there is no surer sign that we have been forgiven than our willingness to forgive...conversely, a harsh, unforgiving spirit is a sure sign that we do not know what means to be forgiven by God...

 

     The word translated “forgiving” (charizomai) in v.13 literally means to cancel a debt...those who have been forgiven will not be characterized not by a harsh, judgmental, legalistic spirit toward those who need to be forgiven...should be characterized by gracious forgiveness...if you’ll look carefully, will see two specific thoughts in v.13 about forgiveness—

·       It is imperative that we forgive - The last phrase of the verse says “so also should you”...point is being forgiving toward others is not optional for Christians...doesn’t say if you want to...if you are in a forgiving mood...if the offending person has done proper penance...simply says “so also should you” forgive...

·       The standard is “as the Lord forgave you” - How has He forgiven us?...unconditionally...completely...no strings attached...and that is precisely how we should forgive those who offend us...unconditionally...completely...no strings attached...

     In Christ we have been given the gift of forgiveness and we are to pass that gift along to others...

 

8)  LOVE - v.14 tells us, “And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”...there are a couple of key things about that statement I want you to see...

·        “beyond all” means that love is the most important of the qualities listed in vv.12-14...it is the thing which makes everything else work...we will never be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, or forgiving if love for others is absent from our lives...

·        put on” picks up on the image of changing clothes which was introduced in the previous paragraph...in vv.5-9 Paul listed some things we are to take off...in vv.12-14 lists some things we are to put on...and the outer garment, the one which everyone sees, should be love... 

·        love” doesn’t mean emotional sentimentality...doesn’t mean merely having a warm feeling toward someone... doesn’t mean merely returning the affection of those who are nice to us...it means intentionally doing what is best for others...living with the welfare of others at heart...

·        perfect bond of unity” means it is love which keeps the fellowship of believers together...where love is absent there is fragmentation, division, and strife...where love is present there is unity, oneness of spirit, and peace...

 

The result of allowing God to produce in us is a life of thanksgiving.  Notice the recurring theme of thanksgiving in these verses.  When our lives are characterized by thanksgiving:

·        We will live in “the peace of Christ” (v.15) - The first part of v.15 says “...let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...”...to understand that statement we must understand what is meant by the phrase “peace of Christ” and what is meant by the word “rule”...

o   “peace of Christ” - the word translated “peace” is “eirene”...it doesn’t mean the absence of conflict...instead, it means to have a spirit of calmness, of serenity in the midst of conflict...the kind of peace being described in this verse is not dependent on what is happening around us...it is dependent on what is happening inside of us...as one writer put it, eirene “...is a calm confidence within which is not disturbed from without by either ... adversity or ... adversaries.” [Harbour, sermon]

o   “rule” - That word means much more than merely being present...it means having supreme control...we are to live in the “peace of Christ”...we are to be controlled by it...our decisions are to be made in light of it...the word literally means “to act as umpire or to be the final judge or arbiter”...

 

·        We will dwell in “the word of Christ” (v.16)Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you...” is one of the great statements in the New Testament...I believe the phrase “word of Christ” means the message about Jesus and the message from Jesus...and of course it is the Scripture from which we learn this message...we are to allow the “word of Christ” to “dwell” within us...the word “dwell” means to find a resting place, a home, a permanent abode...and notice the verse says that the “word of Christ” is not merely to “dwell” in us...instead, it should “richly (abundantly or extravagantly) dwell” in us!...that is we are to allow God’s Word to permeate every nook and cranny of our lives...and when we do that, two things happen...the “word of Christ” shapes our relationships with others and it shapes our relationship with God...verse 16 tells us: 

o   In relation to each other, as the Word dwells in us we will “teach and admonish one another”...in the fellowship where people allow the Word of God to permeate their lives there is not one teacher and the rest learners... instead we are all teachers and all learners...we build-up and encourage each other with the Word...

o   In relation to God, as the Word dwells in us we will “sing with thankfulness in our hearts to God”...the emphasis is on the spirit of joy and celebration which should characterize our worship of God...

 

·        We will work “in the name” of Christ (v.17) - Colossians 3:17 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible... “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”... “Doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus” means that everything we do is done in the keen awareness that our lives are intertwined with Jesus…

 

Which of these eight qualities do you desire most from those around you?  Which the qualities do you have the most difficulty displaying in your life?

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