April 27, 2014

Chosen of God

Col 3: 12  And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

In 3:5-9a of Colossians, Paul told believers what to put off, while in 3:12, Paul begins to tell believers what to put on. In this section in Colossians, Paul is using the analogy of clothing. He is telling them there are sinful actions to put off and godly actions to be put on. In other words, following Jesus is not a matter of don’t do this, or don’t do that. Many people think that being a Christian simply means don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t go to movies, and there may be a continuing list of things that they believe Christians should not do. But the Bible doesn’t mention any of those things as being a part of following Christ.
But the Apostle Paul does tell us that we are to avoid immorality, anger, slander, and rage. And we are not to lie to one another. Those are the things we are to avoid. What we take off, and what we put on, are very important. They reveal who we are. The apostle gives some guidelines for us about how we should be dressed as Christians in Col 3:12.
Verse 12 starts with the word “therefore” in Greek. And this word is there to make the reader think about the fact that they have taken off the old man, and put on the new man. And because of that, Paul tells them what is expected of them.
And before we look at what Paul tells us we are to put on, there are some words in vs. 12 that we should consider.
“Those who have been Chosen of God” – It’s clear what this says, but what is the meaning? The Greek word for “chosen” is eklektos, which according to Thayer’s Greek dictionary means: “picked out, chosen, or elect.” There is nothing complicated about understanding this, as it means exactly what it says – God has chosen some people. What were they chosen for? Paul tells the Thessalonians that they were chosen for salvation:
2 Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB) But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
Many Christians object to this teaching in the Bible. They think, how dare God choose people for salvation? How dare the creator and sustainer of the universe, pick who He wants His children to be? God calls us His adopted children for a reason. It describes salvation in terms of a parent seeking out a child that will be called His own. The thing we are to understand from this phrase “Those who have been Chosen of God” is that salvation is all of God. We have no part in saving ourselves, just as an adopted child can’t go out and choose any set of parents. We have nothing to glory in, except for God Himself. If man had any part in salvation, it would surely lead to boasting. That’s just the way we are.
Notice how Acts 16:14 describes how salvation works.
Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
This is the only place in the New Testament that uses the phrase “opened her heart,”and the Bible gives the whole credit for this “opening” to God’s power and not to man. In our text in Colossians, Paul exhorts us to live the Christian life on the basis of our being chosen. He essentially is saying, since you have been chosen – live like a chosen one!
Not only does Paul call them “chosen,” but He also calls them “Holy.” “Holy” means: “separated unto God”. The word “saint” is the same word as “holy.” Paul rightly calls Christians “saints” (holy) in Colossians 1:2, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae.” The meaning of holy is: “set apart.” Because of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, believers have been “set apart” to God. This is speaking of our position in Christ.
Not only are believers chosen and set apart for God, we are also “Beloved.” The word here is based on the Greek word agape. It is the highest form of the word for love in the Greek. That believers are beloved of God means they are objects of His special love. Being chosen is not a cold, fatalistic doctrine. On the contrary, it is based in God’s infinite love for His children. God’s love toward us never changes. He won’t love us one day, and the next day give us the cold shoulder. Our love toward God certainly changes from one day to the next, but God’s love to us never changes and never fails.
These three terms: “chosen, holy and beloved” are all used of Israel in the Old Testament. But a change has taken place in God’s dealing with mankind. What was once true of Israel is now true of all who come to faith in Christ. Our text this morning indicates that these terms that at one time were used exclusively about Israel, are now used in speaking of both Jew and Gentile.
So as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved people, we are to “put on” certain virtues. The Greek word means that we are putting on a garment and wrapping it around our self. The qualities that Paul lists after this are to be our covering. We cannot put on our position in Christ. Our position before God was put on at the point of salvation, and it goes on forever. We cannot put on being chosen of God. But we can put on certain qualities, certain behaviors, based on who we are in Christ.
So here is what we are to put on:
“A heart of compassion…”
In the Greek this word literally refers to the inward parts of the human body (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc.). Here it speaks figuratively of the seat of the emotions. The word “Compassion” means: “pity,” “mercy,” or “sympathy.” Together, the phrase could be translated: “put on heartfelt compassion,” or “have a deep, gut-level feeling of compassion.” God wants us to be full of compassion, and not insensitive toward others. One of the garments God wants us to clothe ourselves with is the garment of compassion. Are we hard-hearted or calloused toward people who are hurting? The world is, but as Christians, we should not be. But as God’s children, we are to have a heartfelt compassion toward those who hurt.
We are also to put on “kindness” – This means: “to show oneself useful, to act benevolently.” The Bible says a lot about God’s kindness and, about us imitating Him.
Luke 6:35 (NASB) “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Here the Greek word chrestos, is translated: “kind,” and in Romans 2:4 the same word is translated: “good” in the NKJV.
Romans 2:4 (NKJV) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Kindness shows compassion working in us. It may be kind words, having lunch together, or an offer to help with some need someone has. It seems in today’s world there is no end to the opportunities we have, to show kindness. Remember that kindness is one of the qualities God uses to open people’s hearts to the Gospel.
We are also to put on “humility” – This Greek word means: ” humiliation of mind, i.e. modesty:–lowliness of mind.” This word is not found in any Greek writings before the New Testament, which means the New Testament writers may have invented this word. The adjective form, of this word was often used to describe the mentality of a slave. It meant base, shabby, scummy, unfit, low, common, or useless. Humility was never seen in the pagan world as a virtue. It was ugly and never to be sought.
In the Old Testament, God praised humility. He chose the insignificant and humble for His work. He chose the lowly and meek. God chose Moses because of this.
Numbers 12:3 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.
To those who don’t know Jesus, humility is a weakness. The world encourages pride, the world says you are somebody, think highly of yourself, you’re better than others. The sad thing is that this attitude also comes into the church. Even though the Word of God clearly tells us to think humbly of ourselves.
1 Peter 5:5-6 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
At the very heart, humility is a complete dependence upon God. Paul defines humility toward our fellow man for us in:
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself;
Humility is “seeing others as more important than yourself.” If you’re humble, this will be easy for you. But if you are not humble, then you’ll find it very difficult to put others first. It is difficult for us to care about others if we are not clothed with this garment of humility. If we are not humble, then by definition, we are arrogant or proud. We see ourselves as better than others. We think that the world revolves around us, and when it doesn’t, we try to make it revolve around us.
Col 3:12 says we are also to put on “gentleness”- It is closely related to humility. It is not a weakness or spinelessness, but rather the willingness to suffer injury instead of inflicting it. The gentle person is willing to suffer injustice and the burdens others’ sins may cause him. Once again, this is opposite of what the world teaches. The world says “get even” but Jesus says turn the other cheek. It is not easy following Jesus, but we owe everything to Him.
Gentleness means not behaving harshly, or arrogantly, or imposing our will upon others, but it means we think about others.
We are also to put on “patience” – This is listed also in Gal 5:22 as one of the fruits of the Spirit.
A patient person does not seek revenge when wronged. A patient person does not carry with them resentment against others. We may have the power to take revenge, but we do not exercise that power. Although we might resent someone for what they did to us, we choose not to become resentful. When we raise children, patience comes to mind, doesn’t it? There was a case recently of a man who smothered a crying baby so that he could play his video games without interruption. Self control and selfishness were certainly lacking there, as well as patience.
Most of us are ok with suffering for a short time. But few can endure a trial for long. We certainly need this godly attribute for any ongoing trials in our lives. One of the most difficult character traits to develop is the ability to suffer for a long time. That is one of the hardest things God calls upon us to do. Many of us can put up with trials and distress as long as it isn’t very long.
Many times our impatience is directed toward other people. Patience is allowing God the time to work in someone, and not trying to force God’s grace into them by human actions or rules. Patience is allowing people to make mistakes as they learn to do something. Patience is being satisfied with the way God made us. …and the way He made others.
God was certainly patient with us, wasn’t He? In fact the Bible says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And when we sin, His patience with us brings us back into the pasture with the other sheep. He doesn’t lash out at us in anger, but His gentleness, patience, and love draw us back into fellowship.
Those who are the chosen of God, holy, and beloved, ought to conduct themselves in a manner fitting with who they are. As we put on these virtues: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, we become more and more like our Savior and our heavenly Father in our daily lives! As we do this, we display to the world the love of God at work within us.