Moments in the life of a Pastor

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11 Revolutionizing your Relationships – Part 2

Colossians 3:12-17

12 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Our position not only determines our perspective but also what we

a. Pursue

In verse 1 when Paul says to “Set your sights” he is talking here about what we pursue, our searching and seeking. This is about what our heart seeks and a need for a change in desires. Instead of pursuing results Paul calls us to purse a relationship with Jesus. The focus isn’t on the place of heaven but on the person in heaven. Paul is not calling us to love and meditate on the things in heaven, but rather on the King of heaven, the qualities that characterize the life and rule of Christ.  If you want to hit the target you have to focus on what you’re shooting for. When we focus on something right in front of us we end up with a short range focus. Not only does it strain our eyes, but it blurs our view of anything beyond the end of our nose. But if we adjust our focus we get a bigger picture. We can shift our sight from near to far at will, the choice is ours.  We can succumb to selfish, earthbound thoughts, which blur our view of anything beyond the end of our noses, or we can gaze through this sinful scene and fix our attention on things above. Then, and only then, are we in a position to see what’s most important in life. Paul says to set our sights on the realities of heaven, what is the reality, Jesus is seated on the throne. We need to focus on the finished work of Jesus not on the frustrations of this world. Jesus is seated because the work is done, when we set our sights on the Savior we can stop striving. Not only does our position determine our perspective and what we pursue but also how we

b. Process

The power of the Resurrection puts heaven in our hearts but it needs to be transmitted to our minds. We can have eternal or earthly thinking. The Colossians had accepted Christ but it lay dormant because they were engrossed with earthly things. Their earthly priorities were controlling their perspective and directing their lives. We can identify with them, our thoughts, energy, talents and time can be focused on our agenda of personal success and prosperity. This duality of direction, this split personality is what debilitates so many of us. St. Augustine said, “Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all.” When it comes to eternal thinking and earthly thinking, one is everything the other is empty, one is promise focused the other problem focused. If you are honest you will probably find that like me your desires revealed by your thoughts are more focused on the things of this world than on the things of God’s Word. If you want to discover the full force of your focus when it comes to earthly verses eternal things then go study your bank statement, because it records both your priorities and preferences. Revolutionizing your relationships starts first with your relationship with God. Are you living out your position as a child of the King? Are you letting your position in Christ determine not only your perspective and what you pursue but also how you process? Not only are we called to live out our new position but we are also called to put on Christ’s

  1. Provision for the new life.

The call is to take action and put on God’s apparel. This is not a passive activity and it does not happen automatically. Paul gives us the analogy of putting on clothes but this is more than just apparel its Christ like attributes, attitudes and actions. Instead of seeing these as God’s provision we often look at them as a problem. Because we look at the list of attributes: tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, and see them as weakness. We dismiss His provision because we don’t believe that we can live life that way and get ahead in this world. What we really believe is that if we really lived these out we would get run over and become somebodies door mat. Our world tells us to dress for success and recognition, but God calls us to dress for relationship. We are to put off the things that ruin relationship: lust, greed, anger, slander and put on those that build relationship. The clothes Paul invites us to put on are not made of natural fibers. They must be woven of spiritual stuff because human nature says, “I’ll do my fair share but no more.” The first Godly garment that Paul presents us with is:

a. Tenderhearted mercy.

This is commonly called compassion, it’s “a heart of pity” but pity does not mean pathetic. Compassion is an inner attitude expressed in outward action. It’s a fullness of tender caring for and about other’s vulnerability and strengths, which will overflow into how you treat others both publically and privately. As Christians we should not be indifferent to suffering. We should care about others needs and be willing to live in another’s skin, feel what they are going through. Compassion was certainly characteristic of Christ. In Luke 19:41 we find Jesus so moved with compassion for people that He wept for them. He was so concerned about the poor that He fed them. He was so concerned about the sick that He healed them. Living in the roughness of this world can make us calloused, but compassion is the ointment that keeps us tender.

b. Kindness

Kindness is closely related to compassion, it is meeting the needs of people on whom we have compassion. Kindness is action that reveals compassion, benevolence in action, grace that seeks to touch others and take the edge off their harsh reality. Jesus used the word in Matthew 11:20 when he said, “My yoke is easy”, not harsh or hard to bear. Kindness is focused on serving not selfishness, it is painted for us in the picture of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). This is the one who used both his time and his treasure to bind up the wounds of an enemy. Sympathy is sorry for pain, empathy feels your pain, kindness helps stop the pain, it is a garment with healing woven into its fabric. Living the Christian life is not just about removing it’s about replacing. Paul doesn’t stop with putting off he also talks about putting on. Today most Christians tend to get focused on the removal and forget about the replacing.  We are not called to strip of the old and do life naked but to replace the past with God’s provision. Many of us are striving to live a good life instead of a Godly life. As a result we have reduced the righteous life to one of removing bad attitudes and actions instead of replacing them with Godly apparel. What about you, are you living out your position and putting on Christ’s provision for the new life?