The Character of a Christian Part 2

Col 3:12-17

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. NKJV

Last week we saw what Paul says a Christian should put on, “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;” Today we want to know what that outfit looks like once you get it on.

I.         What those clothes look like

            A.        Bearing with one another

                        1.         Bearing with one another means “to endure, to hold out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or complaints and not retaliate.”

                        2.         “Bear with” means putting up with the “extra grace required” crowd. LABC

                        3.         Furthermore, believers are to bear with each other (i.e., “put up with each other”) with the attitudes just mentioned in v. 12. Bible Knowledge Commentary

                        4.         “Formerly, when people had a grievance, they could challenge one another to a duel. That settled it, except when relatives of the loser decided to carry on the feud, sometimes for generations. Each crime against one side would escalate the motives for revenge.

“Now with duels illegal, we use courts to “make ourselves whole” when someone has cheated or slandered us. It is a longer process, less bloody, more public, and civilized.

“Jesus offers an even better way: forgive and forget. It’s the new way of the gospel: let God worry about the wrongs you’ve suffered. Don’t quench your life in bitter feuding; live renewed in love and joy.” LABC

            B.        Forgiving one another

                        1.         The text uses a reflexive pronoun, so it literally reads, “forgiving yourselves.” The church as a whole is to be a gracious, mutually forgiving fellowship. MacArthur

            C.        If anyone has a complaint against another

                        1.         I wonder, is he kidding?

                        2.         Of course we have complaints against each other, we are human aren’t we?

                        3.         The object is never to have a falling out, but to forgive.

                        4.         What would the world be like if there were no forgiveness? It would be a living hell where everyone would live alone, all alone, because they could not forgive.

                        5.         James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

            D.        Even as Christ forgave you

                        1.         And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

                        2.         Matt 18:21Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

            E.        So you also must do.

                        1.         If Christ is in us, we must.

                        2.         If we would obey our Lord, we must.

                        3.         If we would be like Jesus, we must.

                        4.         There is the forbearing and the forgiving spirit. The Christian forbears and forgives; and he does so because a forgiven man must always be forgiving. As God forgave him, so he must forgive others, for only the forgiving can be forgiven. Barclay

II.        But above all these things

            A.        Put on love

                        1.         Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (NRSV) All the virtues that Paul encouraged the believers in Colosse to develop were perfectly bound together by love. As they clothed themselves with these virtues, the last garment to put on was love, which, like a belt, holds all of the others in place. Literally it means “the bond of perfection.” Love pulls together the other graces in perfect, unified action. To practice any list of virtues without practicing love will lead to distortion, fragmentation, and stagnation. In any congregation, love must be used to unify the people and build them up. Those who would desire to be mature in Christ must make love a top priority. Paul regularly wrote about the priority of love: LABC

                                    a.         “If I speak in the tongues … have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith … if I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body … but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 nrsv).

                                    b.         “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments … are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8-10 nrsv).

                                    c.          “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 nkjv).

                                    d.         “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment,’ You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14 nrsv).

                                    e.         “But the fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22 niv).

                                    f.         “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2 nrsv).

            B.        Which is the bond of perfection

                        1.         Love is the most important moral quality in the believer’s life, for it is the very glue that produces unity in the church. Believers will never enjoy mutual fellowship through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience; they will not bear with each other or forgive each other unless they love one another. MacArthur

III.       And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,

            A.        Eirene (peace) includes both the concept of an agreement, pact, treaty, or bond, and that of an attitude of rest or security. Both aspects are in view here. Objectively, believers are at peace with God: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). The war between the believer and God is over, and the treaty was paid for by the blood of Christ. Because of that, believers are at rest, and secure. MacArthur

            B.        Rule is from brabeuo. It was used to describe the activity of an umpire in deciding the outcome of an athletic contest.

                        1.         The peace of Christ guides believers in making decisions. When faced with a choice, the believer should consider two factors.

                        2.         First, is it consistent with the fact that he and Christ are now at peace and thus on the same side?

                        3.         Does it perpetuate that oneness with the Lord that is the believer’s possession? MacArthur

            C.        To which also you were called in one body

                        1.         If there are differences, the peace of God will be “umpire” (rule) in our hearts as we feed on the Word and worship Christ.

                                    a.         Christian fellowship in the local church cannot be legislated by a constitution, although constitutions are useful;

                                    b.         true fellowship must come from within, from the hearts of the believers.

                                    c.         If a believer is out of fellowship with another believer, it is because one or both of them have gotten out of fellowship with God. Wiersbe’s Outlines of the New Testament

            D.        And be thankful.

                        1.         To maintain a peaceful heart one has to be thankful.

                                    a.         Thankfulness is a constant theme in Colossians (cf. 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15, 16, 17; 4:2).

                                    b.         Gratitude comes naturally to believers in response to all God has done (Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:18; Heb. 13:15), whereas ingratitude marks unbelievers (Rom. 1:21). MacArthur

                        2.         1 Thess 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

How do you look today? You might think you look alright but look into the mirror of God’s Word today. You might need a little fixing up.