Clothing for a Name

Henry VIII King of England

Royal Priesthood

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

If you’ve been a Christian any length of time, it is likely that you have heard those words…and they may instill in you both a sense of honor and feeling of unworthiness. Caught up in the hustle-and-bustle of daily life…along with all its various trials and tribulations…they are easy words to lose track of but awesome ones to remember.

  • You are a chosen race
  • You are a royal priesthood
  • You are a holy nation
  • You are a people for His own possession
  • You are God’s people

As we continue our “walk about” through Colossians with this eighth talk in the series “Dear Least Important Church…”…let’s remember those words from Peter as we hear these from Paul in today’s reading from Colossians 3:12-17:

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]


12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Speaking of “awesome” words, eh? When I first saw the section I had chosen for today’s sermon I thought to myself, “So few verses…this is going to be a short talk.”

And although I do plan to keep this one shorter than most, the reality is that those six verses are chock-full of beauty and meaning…and easily could launch a multi-hour sermon. Recognizing that most of you don’t have hours to listen to my talk I’ll keep it relatively simple by focusing on a few points.

If you were paying attention to the beginning of this sermon you know what the first one is. 🙂

What did Paul call you to start off today’s verses?

God’s chosen ones.

Now, that might not be as impactful a categorization as “a royal priesthood,” but it is equally incredible. You aren’t just ordinary blokes. You are God’s chosen ones. You are holy. You are beloved.

And you and I should think about that as we are surrounded by a world of people who are not…including many who think they are but aren’t. They are not special…they are part of the gigantic herd who are taking the wide and easy way to destruction (see Matthew 7:13).

But not you.

  • You are God’s chose ones
  • You are holy
  • You are beloved
  • You are a chosen race
  • You are a royal priesthood
  • You are a holy nation
  • You are a people for His own possession
  • You are God’s people

Dressing Right

Now, imagine with me if, instead of speaking of spiritual things, we were talking about a literal royal priesthood as the world would understand it. Would you wear the same clothing as everyone else on the street, especially while you were acting in your “chosen” capacity?

Probably not. Royalty wear royal vestments. Priests wear priestly garments. Stuff you cannot find at Old Navy or the Gap.

At least in olden times you wouldn’t finding royalty or priests in public wearing frumpy exercise pants or with their Fruit of the Looms showing above their sagging pant-line.

Instead, they would have clothing unavailable to the common folk…something that would distinguish them from the ordinary.

Something that would remind everyone they were special.

Heading back to spiritual things…we’ve established that you are special. And here…a bit more than half way through Colossians…Paul is telling God’s chosen ones it’s time to don…to put on…the the proper clothing. Last week in my sermon “Where You Once Walked” we covered how we are supposed to walk.

  • Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • Walk in Him
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, and…
  • Walk by the Spirit

Last week we also covered how we weren’t supposed to walk. In Colossians 3:7 Paul reminded us that…

In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

And switching metaphors…Paul additionally spoke how we “put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self” (see Colossians 3:9-10).

Which now connects last week and this. Last week Paul told us how not to walk…what not to wear.

But he doesn’t leave us there.

I’m not sure what you do for work…or…given this economy…whether you have a job right now (my prayers for you if you don’t)…

But my position involves getting a lot of feedback…from those my department provides services…from my boss…from my peers…from my employees. Part of that feedback is about things that are wrong.

And what is better than someone who tells you what is wrong?

Someone who also suggests how it can be fixed or improved.

Last week Paul described the clothes we shouldn’t wear as God’s chosen ones…but didn’t leave it there.

This week he describes the garments chosen, holy, and beloved people should wear. Heading back to Colossians 3:12-14:

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

What should we put on?

  • Put on compassionate hearts
  • Put on kindness
  • Put on humility
  • Put on meekness
  • Put on patience with each other
  • Put on forgiveness

If you didn’t hear my sermon from last week, let me assure you that this is a much nicer list to have to listen to than what was heard next week.

These are true royal vestments. True priestly garments.

Last week they were tattered, dirty, immodest clothes fit for self-indulgent rabble.

However, that’s not us. We have put off the old self and put on the new compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient, and forgiving new self.

Love

But did you notice something I left off this week’s list that was in what we read together?

It was something so important that it got its own “put on” from Paul.

So important it also got his “above all”…

Verse 14 said:

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14).

“Above all these put on love…”

Which are reminiscent of these other words from Paul:

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

In Colossians we read “above all these put on love” and here in 1 Corinthians we hear that greater than faith…greater than hope…is love.

Which, perhaps, is why of all the characteristics Jesus said would make us stand out to the world…

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).

And we know from that same area of 1 Corinthians that this is no ordinary love:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:1-7).

Above all put on love.

  • Without love you are a noisy gong…a clanging cymbal.
  • Without love you are nothing.
  • Without love you gain nothing.

Above all put on love.

It is patient and kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things..

Now that is royal vestments! Priestly garments!

Above all put on love.

What You Wear Reflects on Jesus

I said this sermon was going to be relatively short, and I am going to stick with it. I’ll skip over focusing on verses 15 in 16 in today’s selection to save time…but we’ll wrap up with verse 17:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17).

Why should you put on the right clothing…especially love?

Because whatever you do, in word or deed, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus.

And if there is any being that showed how to “wear” love, Jesus Christ did. He is the 1 Corinthians “love verses” incarnate.

Everything we say we should say in His name. Everything we do need to do in His name. As John MacArthur notes:

To do everything in the name of Jesus is to act consistently with who He is and what He wants. Paul expressed the same thought in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1

Or as A Handbook on Paul’s Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon states.

This verse brings this section (3:5—17) to as close with a general command that everything the Colossians do and say must be in the name of the Lord Jesus, that is, as his committed and obedient followers and representatives.2

We should “act consistently with who [Jesus] is and what [Jesus] wants”…we should act “as [Jesus’] committed and obedient followers and representatives.” You know…God’s chosen ones…a royal priesthood “proclaim[ing] the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

One might say, if we truly put on love we put on Christ. As Paul says in Romans 13:14:

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

If you “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” you will automatically put on everything Paul mentioned in today’s verses…including love…and you will represent Jesus well to a dying world that needs Him so.

It is “clothing for a name”…Jesus’ name. Clothing for a name above all other names (see Philippians 2:9 and Ephesians 1:21).

Clothing befitting God’s chosen ones.

Dear least important church of God’s chosen ones, let’s improve this wardrobe of yours by putting on love…by putting on Jesus…

Footnotes

1MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (Col 3:17). Chicago: Moody Press.

2Bratcher, R. G., & Nida, E. A. (1993). A handbook on Paul’s letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (p. 91). New York: United Bible Societies.


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