Taking Inventory of the Body
Topic: Sermon Passage: Colossians 3:12–3:17
As many of you know, I grew up in large family. I was third of six boys, no sisters. My mom and dad belonged to a twins club because the last two sons were twins. Surprise! Every fall and spring, the twins club would have a consignment sale. You know what that meant? Every fall and spring, my mom would usher us into our rooms one by one and we would try on everything in our closet to know what fit and what needed to be replaced. Pants, shorts, shirts, dress shirts, ties, belts, coats, and shoes. The clothing that no longer fit was put into the sale and what was needed was purchased at the sale. You know what this meant? I had to try on a whole new wardrobe after the sale. I absolutely hated this time each year. When I see the consignment sale Belle Aire had a couple of weeks ago, I have horrible flashbacks. I’m ok now. Years and years of counseling have helped.
As I look back on that time, my mom and dad were trying to make the most of the opportunities for our family. They loved us and wanted to provide for us. I am very thankful now for all they did for us and the time they sacrificed for us. As I think back to those days, in reality, my mom and dad were taking inventory of our clothes.
Let me ask us this morning, when was the last time we took an inventory of our life? I am not asking about the clothes you wear or what you own. I am asking when was the last time you took inventory on how you are living as a Christ follower in the church? Let me get even more specific: As a church, what would an inventory reveal in how we relate with other people in the church? What would an inventory reveal concerning our efforts in promoting harmony in the church? Would an inventory reveal that we are guided by the word of God?
This morning, I want us to look at a passage that speaks to these questions. Please open your Bibles to Colossians 3:12. You can find that in a pew Bible on page ___. We are going to study Colossians 3:12-17. As we work through the text, I want us to take inventory of how we are living within the Body, that is, the Church.
As I have labored and toiled over this sermon, my prayer is that God would speak to us through the proclamation of God’s word and that we would be receptive to what He has to say to us.
With this in mind, let’s stand for the reading of God’s word.
Read Colossians 3:12-17 and Pray
I. We are responsible for how we relate to one another in the church. (vs. 12-14)
We know that we are responsible for how we relate to one another in the church because the first two words in verse 12 tell us to “put on.” This is not a passive approach that Paul is presenting. The responsibility lies upon us to take action and not just any action. There is a sense of urgency conveyed in the verb. If you have children, you know what this is like on Sunday mornings before church. You tell your children to “put on” their clothes and there seems to be no sense of urgency from them. This seems to always lead to a downward spiral.
Notice that Paul’s appeal is based on a threefold fact. In other words, we are motivated by the following:
1. We should put on because we (believers in Christ) are God’s chosen ones.
2. We should put on because we are holy. We have been set apart by and for God.
3. We should put on because we are beloved, or dearly loved
Now we get to what we are to put on. There are three groupings I want to point out. First, we need to recognize our individual qualities.
A. Individual Qualities
1. Compassion—This is a sensitivity to those who are suffering or in need. It isn’t just a onetime deal. Notice that hearts is plural. The idea is that we are to put on continually a sensitivity and tenderness toward those who are suffering and miserable.
2. Kindness—It is the friendly and helpful spirit which seeks to meet the needs of others through kind deeds. It is triggered by genuine care for a person’s feelings and desires. Kindness is expressed both in attitude and deed.
3. Humility—implies the idea that we are not to consider ourselves in any way as superior to others. Humility allows us to serve others without caring whether it is noticed or not.
4. Meekness—This can also be understood as gentleness. It carries the idea of the willingness to make allowances for others. It is the opposite of arrogance and self- assertiveness.
5. Patience—literally means long temper. KJV uses the word longsuffering. It denotes the self-restraint that enables one to bear injury and insult without resorting to hasty retaliation.
Paul doesn’t stop here, but keeps on going. He now turns from individual qualities to interpersonal qualities. He lists 2 qualities here.
B. Interpersonal Qualities
1. Bearing with one another—Carries the idea of enduring. Bearing with one another is the idea of putting up with others even when they fail or act differently from what is expected. It is a willingness to bear with those whose faults or unpleasant traits are an irritant to them. It is to be a continual practice.
2. Forgiving each other—is a willingness to forgive those they have grievances against. Notice the text has a disclaimer. It says, “if one has a complaint against another.” The passage obviously speaks to the offended party, not the offending one. It may be that the offending person had little, if any, awareness of what he or she had done. The offended should take initiative in enduring and forgiving. Harboring resentment and ill will toward another does little good and to do so is beneath Christians. Anyone can hold grudges, but the mark of Christians is they do not. They forgive regardless.
What allows a believer to forgive others? Because we have been forgiven by God. Therefore, we must be willing to forgive others.
C. Indispensible Quality
Paul singled out one characteristic above all others: Love. The word here is agape. It is God’s type of love. The essence of this type of love is self-sacrifice. A person is willing to give of themselves for the benefit and edification of others. If you think about it, we water down this word so often. “I love this movie, I love steak, I love my car.” Paul is not talking about a flippant type of love. Notice that Paul even repeats the “put on” phrase again because it is that important. It is important because it binds everything together in perfect harmony. In other words, we cannot truly exhibit compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience without love.
Let’s pause here for a second and do a quick inventory. You may want to grab a piece a paper and write down where you are. As I stated earlier, we are responsible for how we relate to one another in the church. The burden lies upon us. So, let me ask you, as for individual qualities, would you be considered compassionate? Kind? Humble? Meek? Or Patient?
What about our interpersonal qualities? Do you bear with one another? Do you forgive others? Byron Paulus of Life Action Ministry writes:
“After reaching out to more than four million believers in 6,000 churches during the past four decades, our team of revivalists would unanimously concur that the number one problem they encounter is unforgiveness. Bitterness is rampant. Forgiveness is not. And in church after church, as Life Action proclaims the truth about bitterness and forgiveness, we hear powerful testimonies of God setting captives free.”
Maybe today, you need to forgive someone for what they have done to you. You need to release the bitterness and experience the freedom in Christ.
How well is your love? Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Are you motivated by love?
Belle Aire, each one of us is responsible for how we relate to one another. We must be faithful in the little things. Let’s get busy putting on what the scripture commands us to do for the sake of the body!
II. We must strive for Harmony in the Church. (vs. 15)
We are to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. There are two words here we need to hone in on. The first word is “peace.” Peace is to join or bind together that which has been separated. Peace is therefore the opposite of division. So instead of division there is to be a unity or oneness. It is important that we understand that Paul is addressing the church body. Therefore, Paul is stressing harmony in the church and the rest of the verse bears this out: “to which indeed you were called in one body.”
Peace is to rule in the congregation and that leads us to our second word. The word “rule” is often translated umpire. It carries the idea of one who oversees a game and presents the prize for following the rules. In the present context, rule is used figuratively to picture the peace of Christ arbitrating, deciding in arguments, and thereby restraining the passions of the flesh that might threaten to disrupt the peace in the body. The peace of Christ would settle any friction and strife so that the believers could remain strong and unified.
Let’s pause and do a quick inventory. Are you striving for harmony in the church? Are you allowing the peace of Christ to rule in your hearts or are you causing division. Read Colossians 3:8-9a. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Belle Aire, we must be constantly striving for harmony in the church.
III. We must allow the Gospel to guide us in the Church. (vs. 16-17)
The word of Christ is probably a reference to the gospel, or the good news of Jesus Christ. To allow the gospel to dwell richly is to let it have ample room in our heart. The idea is that we are to submit to the demands of the Christian message and let it become so deeply implanted within us as to control all our thinking and doing. This is to be not only an individual concept, but a corporate concept for he is continuing to address the church.
The means by which we allow the Gospel to guide us in the church is two fold:
1. Teach and admonish in all wisdom. The people of God have a responsibility of teaching each other in the ways of God. Admonishing has the element of strong encouragement. People must allow themselves to be taught and admonished within the church.
2. Sing with thankfulness in their hearts. There is no reason to distinguish the different types of song. The point is that the church uses music as a means of sharing and reinforcing the good news of Jesus Christ. It is a means of letting the word of Christ to dwell in us richly.
Verse 17 serves as a summary verse. Whatever we do, it is to be done in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him. What are we to be thankful for? For we have been brought from death to life. We have been delivered from the darkness and placed in the kingdom of his Son through the work of the Son. We have access to God because of the work of the Jesus Christ. We have much to be thankful for. Therefore, everything we do should be done out of thankfulness to Christ!
Let’s do one last inventory. Are we allowing the Gospel to guide us in the church? Let me get more specific. Are you involved in a Bible study at Belle Aire? If not, how are you able to “teach and admonish one another” if you are simply sitting in a pew and not having a mutual involvement in the lives of others at Belle Aire? What about singing with thankfulness in your heart? Do you participate in worship through singing? The early church did and we continue that today. It is a means by which we allow the word of God to dwell in us richly.
Belle Aire, I know that our church has problems. Let me give you a little insight, I have never served in a perfect church. Every church has problems. The question is, “are you part of the problem or part of the solution?” The body is at stake! Christ’s reputation is at stake. The souls of people in Murfreesboro are at stake! We are the bride of Christ. We are the body of Christ. Let us not tear down, talk ill of, or defame what Christ died for! Let’s put on what Christ has commanded us to put on. Let’s be what Christ has called us to be!