Colossians 3:12-14

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 7, 2009


We have now entered the practical part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  He’s laid a good foundation of good doctrine.  He’s warned them about the heretical teachings that have begun to creep into their church.  Now he encourages them in how to live their lives.

:12  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

put onenduo – to sink into (clothing), put on, clothe one’s self

Paul continues with the metaphor of taking off and putting on certain articles of clothing. We are to “put off” things like anger and filthy language. (Col. 3:8).  Here are things we are to “put on”.

Some things look good on you.  Some just things don’t.

Stuff that doesn’t look good on you are things like anger and filthy language.

Now I’m pretty good at knowing what doesn’t look good on you.
I have a harder time realizing what doesn’t look good on me.

Some of the things that make you look real good are things like tender mercy, kindness, and humility.

In trying to figure out what you “look good” in, it’s important to realize who you are.

Not everyone can wear every kind of fashion.

What looks good on one person isn’t going to look good on another.  What might look good on a non-Christian isn’t going to look good on you.

To “dress for success”, you need to know what kind of clothes are appropriate for you.  There are three qualities that Paul uses to describe us as Christians that helps us know how we ought to “dress”.

electeklektos – picked out, chosen

I know that some people get freaked out about the fact that God has chosen us.  They say, “I thought I chose God!”  Then after having chose God, they find out that God had actually chosen them first.  How does that work?  I’m not sure, but it’s still true.

Do you like being chosen?

When I was in Jr. High, I think I held a record on the softball field.  I don’t think I hit a single pitch during my entire Jr. High career of playing softball.  So when it came time in P.E. to pick teams for softball, guess who often got picked last?  You got it.  Me.
So I have a fondness about this concept of being “chosen” by God.  You’re not even God’s “last pick”, the one that nobody else wants.  He purposely chose you.
Why did He choose you?  Was it because you could hit a softball?  No.  This is God’s grace.  He chose us simply because He wanted to.  He chose us because He loves us.
What if I don’t know if I’m chosen?  How can I be “chosen”?  It’s simple.  Simply choose God and you will find out that He has already chosen you.

Who do you think is allowed to wear the Angels’ baseball uniform on the ball field during an Angels’ game?  Only those on the team.  Only those who are chosen.

Being “chosen” means you have a uniform to wear.

holyhagios – holy, a quality of God, separated, pure and clean

This is one of the characteristics of God.  Night and day the angels in heaven are declaring:

(Rev 4:8 NKJV)  …"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"

This word speaks of God’s purity, how different He is from us.

When we opened our hearts to Christ, He forgave our sins and made us holy.

When you get out of the shower, do you put on dirty clothes or clean clothes?  Don’t you prefer to put on clean clothes?

Because we are God’s people, and He has made us holy, God wants us to live lives that are holy.

(1 Pet 1:15-16 NKJV)  but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, {16} because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
He wants us to put on the clean clothes.

belovedagapao – God’s special kind of love.  This word says that WE are loved by God.

As a parent, don’t you desire that your kids wear nice clothes, as nice as you can afford?  You love your kids, you want the best for them.  As a husband or a wife, don’t you sometimes express your love with a gift of nice clothes?  I want people to look at my kids and wife and say, “My they must be well loved”.  I know that my wife works very hard to make sure that I’m dressed in a way that says I’m well taken care of.

There is no one who loves you more than God.

He is so concerned that you are wearing the right wardrobe.  He wants His kids to show that they’re well taken care of.  He wants His Bride to be wearing the finest.

Let’s look at the wardrobe God has for us to wear…

:12  …put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

tendersplagchnon – bowels, intestines; regarded by the Hebrews as the seat of the more tender affections such as kindness or compassion; the “heart”

“tender mercy” might be a good way to translate these two words together, but literally we could translate them as “bowels of mercies” or “heart of compassion”.

merciesoiktirmos – compassion, pity, mercy; it’s not the deeds that are done with mercy, but the deep inner feeling of compassion on the suffering of another.

When you look at how the word is used in the New Testament, you find that this is something that God has for us:

(Rom 12:1 NKJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…
(2 Cor 1:3 NKJV)  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,


Continue to Care

Sometimes we can allow ourselves to get a little cold and callus in our hearts.
When you care for someone and they betray you, you can sometimes wonder why you should even bother caring for others.
People need compassion.  Don’t you appreciate it when people show compassion to you?
God’s compassion moves us to do the right thing, to give ourselves to Him (Rom. 12:1)
Our compassion can also have a good effect on those around us.
When Johntell Franklin's mother lost her battle with cancer on February 7, 2009, no one was surprised to hear that Franklin, a senior forward for the Milwaukee Madison High School basketball team (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), was not going to play in his team's game that day against DeKalb High School (DeKalb, Illinois). But then he showed up. Midway through the second quarter, Franklin walked into the gym, ready to play. The only problem was that his name hadn't been entered into the scorebook. That meant that if Franklin took the floor, his team would be assessed a technical—two free throws for the DeKalb team. Aaron Womack Jr., coach of Milwaukee Madison, and Dave Rohlman, coach of DeKalb, both met with the game's referee, begging the referee to make an exception to the rules. Though the referee was sympathetic to the situation, he stressed that the rules had to be followed, regardless of the extenuating circumstances. That's when something truly special happened. When the referee would not budge, DeKalb's Darius McNeal volunteered to shoot the two free throws. When he turned to make his way to the line, Coach Rohlman called out, "You realize you're going to miss, right?" McNeal nodded. McNeal went to the line, the referee handed him the basketball, and he set his feet to take the shot. But instead of a perfectly executed free throw, McNeal shot the ball just two feet in front of him, and the ball slowly bounced out of bounds. The referee picked the ball up, handed it back to McNeal, and McNeal did the same thing for the second shot. The crowd responded with a standing ovation. Later, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, McNeal said, "I did it for the guy who lost his mom. It was the right thing to do." Moved by the gesture of the DeKalb team, Coach Womack wrote a letter to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle, saying, "You should all feel immense pride for the remarkable job that the coaching staff is doing in not only coaching these young men, but teaching them how to be leaders." He added—tongue in cheek—"I'd like to recognize Darius who stepped up to miss the shot on purpose. … I hope Coach Rohlman doesn't make him run [laps]."
Brian Lowery, managing editor,; source: news services, "Team's gesture supports grieving opponent," (2-17-09)

kindnesschrestotes – moral goodness, integrity; benignity

Doing good things for others.

A form of the word is used in:
(Luke 6:35 NKJV)  "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Jesus was saying that if we would love our enemies by “doing good” to them, then we would be like God who is “kind”.

humilitytapeinophrosune (“lowly” + “minded”) – having a humble opinion of one’s self; modesty, lowliness of mind

Humility is not the making of one’s self small when he is really great, but thinking little of one’s self, because this is in a sense the right estimate for any human being, however great.

Humility is critical when it comes to getting along with other people.

(Phil 2:3 NKJV)  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

(1 Pet 5:5 NKJV)  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."

meeknesspraotes – gentleness, mildness, meekness

The attitude of mind and behavior that comes from humility, and allows one to receive with gentleness whatever may come to him from others or from God.

“Meekness” comes because of my pride adjustment, because of humility.
When my life doesn’t go the way I want it to, when I get treated unfairly, how do I respond?
When I respond with anger or by giving the person back what they gave me, that’s my pride at work.
When I respond with, “Well, I think I’ll be okay with that, even if I don’t prefer it”, that’s “meekness”.

It’s not the wimpy man who is too scared to speak up.  Sometimes we can think that “meekness” is the opposite of “Mr. T”, “fool!”  Wrong.

It’s learning to tame the wild animal anger inside me and learning to not act out.

Meekness toward God is that attitude where I learn to accept God’s dealings toward me as good, and so I don’t argue with God or resist what He’s doing. 

In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice.

We see it in Daniel’s friends as they are faced with being thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue:
(Dan 3:17-18 NKJV)  "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. {18} "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

Meekness stems from my trust in God’s goodness and control over my situation.

We see “meekness” during the final hours of Jesus’ life on earth.  We see it when He’s praying in the Garden:

(Luke 22:42 NKJV)  saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."

We see it when Jesus is being arrested and He tells Peter to put his sword away:

(Mat 26:52-53 NKJV)  But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. {53} "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

We see it as Jesus breathes His last breath:

(Luke 23:46 NKJV)  And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' " Having said this, He breathed His last.

Modern examples:

Do any of you remember praying for the missionary in Nepal named Manja?  The radical Hindus in Nepal didn’t like what this man was doing, leading people to Christ.  They ended up having him falsely convicted for a murder he didn’t commit and had him sent to prison.  After nine years, he was released just this week.
Instead of complaining or giving up, Manja felt like he had the opportunity to suffer in prison like the apostle Paul.  He ended up leading many in prison to Christ and was leading a regular Bible study of 30 men.  But now he is free.
There is a Calvary Chapel attending gal in Texas who was accused a few years ago of murdering her young foster son when he got a hold of some spicy flavoring, ate it, and died of salt poisoning.  They accused her of murder because she took an hour and a half to take the boy to the hospital because she didn’t know what had happened to him.  This Christian woman is now serving a life sentence in prison, away from her husband and five children.  Even though her family, friends, and church have been organizing a lot of support to have her conviction overturned, Hannah Overton is busy doing something else.  She is leading women in prison to Christ and teaching a regular Bible Study.
This is meekness.

longsufferingmakrothumia (“long” + “burning”) – patience, forbearance, slowness in avenging wrongs

I usually link this word with the adventures of Dudley Do-Right.  Remember that old cartoon about the bumbling Canadian Mountie who had to save sweet Nell from the dangerous Snidley Whiplash?  Sometimes it involved a long fuse that took so long to burn that Dudley had time to put it out.  Sometimes it was … play video clip.

The point is that it usually took a long time before Nell was going to die, time enough for Dudley to save her.

“Longsuffering” means that you don’t explode instantly at the other person, but that you take time to remove the danger.

It’s the opposite of taking revenge.

: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.

bearing withanechomai – to hold up; to bear, to endure

“holding yourselves back from one another.”

forgivingcharizomai (“to grace”) – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to

This word can be translated “forgiving” because forgiveness is being gracious.

It can be more than forgiveness, like doing something good that the other person doesn’t deserve.

complaintmomphe – blame; to have a complaint against any one

even as Christ – We need to learn to forgive other people like Jesus has forgiven us.

(Mat 18:21-35 NLT)  Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" {22} "No!" Jesus replied, "seventy times seven! {23} "For this reason, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. {24} In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. {25} He couldn't pay, so the king ordered that he, his wife, his children, and everything he had be sold to pay the debt. {26} But the man fell down before the king and begged him, 'Oh, sir, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.' {27} Then the king was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. {28} "But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. {29} His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. 'Be patient and I will pay it,' he pleaded. {30} But his creditor wouldn't wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt could be paid in full. {31} "When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him what had happened. {32} Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. {33} Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' {34} Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny. {35} "That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters in your heart."

You and I are the ones who have been forgiven.  How will we treat others?

:14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

loveagape – God’s special kind of love.

bondsundesmos – that which binds together, a band, bond

If you go back and look at all these things that Paul has told us to “put on”, you might notice that they all affect relationships.  Paul has been talking about the kinds of things that help relationships.

Humility, meekness, grace … all good for relationships.
What kind of relationships?  All kinds.  Relationships among friends, among people at church, people at work.  Even the stuff at home.

perfectionteleiotes – the state of the more intelligent; from teleios – full grown, adult, mature


The Greatest Glue

There are lots of ways to hold relationships together.  Some good, some not so good. Can you tell which are good and which are bad?
There is rope, zip ties, or duct tape.

Those will certainly keep you stuck to another person. Bad idea.

There are threats.

“You won’t get your paycheck unless you do what I say”

“I will split the church if you don’t do what I want…”  Bad idea.

There is guilt.

“You will ruin my life if you stop being my friend” Bad idea.

There are the kids.

We stay together so the kids will have a home. Better idea.

There is obligation, keeping your promise.

Marriage is a promise.  It’s a good glue, but there’s something better.

The smartest, most mature way is love.
Remember that this is “agape” love. 

This isn’t love based on emotions – that’s the kind of love that you can “fall into” or “fall out of”.

This is love based on a choice, a choice to place value on the other person.

This isn’t conditional love – “I’ll love you if you will do such and such for me” This is unconditional love – like how God loves us.

(1 Cor 13:4-8 NLT)  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud {5} or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. {6} It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. {7} Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. {8} Love will last forever…
What is holding your relationships together?