Putting on the Character of Christ

July 29, 2016

Good Afternoon Church,

I pray this letter finds you rejoicing in the marvelous mercy and majestic nature of our great God. We have so much to be thankful for that His praise should be continually in our hearts and flow through our lives.[1]As I begin to write this letter I am waiting to board my flight to visit with our missionaries in Kentucky and already anticipating our time worshipping together this Lord’s Day. Last Sunday we considered the centrality of Christ in and over every area of the believer’s life including their pursuit of God given holiness.  Yet, when it comes to putting on the virtues listed throughout Scripture, we often become mired down and distracted in our hot pursuit to achieve or fulfill “the list” rather than finding pleasure in pursuing “the Lord.” Thus, when it comes to the virtues listed in Col 3:12-14, when it comes to the positive attributes and aspects of holiness[2]that we look for,[3] long for,[4] and strive for,[5] we must pursue purity as we strive after our Savior![6] You pursue holiness ultimately by gazing upon the Holy One![7] It is the character of Christ we are after, not some arbitrary list that looks good![8] See, too many of us have been personally pursuing a list instead of passionately pursuing the LORD! Therefore, to better equip us in our understanding of the centrality of Christ in our pursuit of godliness, I want to further explain how Christ is the perfect picture of the virtues we are commanded to put on.[9] I will give you many of the Scripture references mentioned last Sunday as I call to mind five specific ways Christ reflects the virtues we are called to radiate.

Putting on the Character of Christ

character

The first virtue that we are commanded to put on in Colossians 3:12 is a compassionate heart. We learned that this goes beyond just seeing and feeling the hurt of others as it also seeks to relieve or meet the needs of others. Yet, where do we look as sinful Christians to see what a real and pure compassionate heart looks like? We consider the person and work of Christ! Contemplate how He demonstrated a compassionate heart as He felt and sought to meet the emotional needs of the people who were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”.[10] Stop and calculate how Jesus saw and served the physical needs of the great crowd of 4,000,[11] despite the desire of His disciples to just send them away hungry.[12] Ruminate over the clear picture of the compassion of Christ for someone that would even reject Him as He interacts with the “Rich Young Ruler” and seeks to meet his spiritual need.[13] If you are ever going to be a person marked by a heart of compassion, then you must sit and savor the Savior who came to seek and save the lost at the cost of His own life,[14] and He did this for a people who were His enemy![15] Now that is a picture of compassion that will purify your life!

Next, Paul calls us to put on gentleness, which is a gracious and generous disposition towards others. This reality is often manifested in meekness, which is demonstrated with a humble reaction towards those who display hatred and hostility towards us. Jesus is the definition of gentleness and meekness as He dramatically and lucidly displays what it means to have strength under control. Consider how He displays gentleness with the lost.[16] How He was gentle with struggling and fickle servants.[17] There is no greater picture of meekness amidst misery then the sacrificial death of our Lord.[18] You will never know what it truly means to be gentle and meek if you are not dwelling on the One who was the meek and mild Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world.[19]

Thirdly, we must meditate over what it truly looks like to be patient with people, which is the opposite of revenge and is the ability to bear injury and insult without an attitude of retaliation. It carries the idea of suffering long with people and situations that bring pain, problems, and pressure into our lives. Jesus Christ is the model of patience and the perfect picture of a long suffering spirit as He was patient with people who were slow of heart despite all that He said to them and did for them.[20] He demonstrated great patience and perseverance through relentless temptation as He was tried by Satan many times, including a stretch for 40 days and nights, and yet He did not complain, grumble, or lose His cool.[21] Contemplate how our Prince displayed perfect peace under the greatest persecution this world has ever known.[22] This reality of patience under persecution is to serve as our example, showing us, and further equipping us, for what it means to be a people marked by patience under pressure.[23] In the passage just cited, Peter is essentially saying, “Put on the character of Christ”[24] while suffering for righteousness sake. How many spouses could learn from this lesson of our Lord while suffering amidst the struggle of a failing relationship![25]

Lastly, we are called to be bear with one another, which means, “to put up with” silly and or immature people that irritate us, and we are called to forgive those who sin against us. These two realties are in many ways the channel through which the character of Christ or the virtues of godliness are manifested in and through our lives. Consider how Christ put up with weak disciples.[26] Interestingly, it is basically the same word for “bear with” that is used in Col 3:13 as commanded to the church and Mt 17:17 as displayed by our Lord. Contemplate how Christ put up with distracted[27] and doubting disciples.[28] Moreover, meditate on the forgiving nature of Christ, who manifested a forgiving spirit toward sinful men,[29] toward wicked women,[30]and even towards evil people.[31] Lest you forget, those categories of people are perfect descriptions of every one of us who believe,[32] whom Christ has graciously forgiven![33]

I hope this will prove helpful for you as you seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.[34] I look forward to seeing you and worshipping with you on Sunday, Lord willing, when we will begin a closer look at biblical forgiveness. This week we will examine the priority of forgiveness as we learn the critical nature of this undeserved gift of God and undeniable necessity for this in the life and ministry of the Church. I also look forward to giving you an update on our trip. May the Lord bless and keep you until we meet again!

Humbly,

Pastor Matt

Isa 66:2

 

[1] Ps 34:1-3

[2] Gal 5:22

[3] 1 Tim 4:7

[4] 2 Tim 3:12

[5] Heb 12:14

[6] Eph 4:24

[7] 2 Cor 3:18-4:6

[8] 1 Cor 1:29-31;Col 3:10; Rom 8:29; 13:14

[9] Col 3:12-14

[10] Mt 9:36

[11] Mt 15:32

[12] Mt 15:33; 14:15

[13] Mk 10:21

[14] Lk 19:10

[15] Rom 5:8; Eph 2:1-3

[16] Mt 11:25-30

[17] Jn 13:1-20

[18] Phil 2:8

[19] Isa 53

[20] Jn 14:9

[21] Mt 4:1-11

[22] 1 Pet 2:13-25

[23] 1 Pet 2:21

[24] Rom 13:14

[25] 1 Pet 3:1-7

[26] Mt 17:17

[27] Lk 22:24-30

[28] Jn 20:24-29

[29] Mt 9:2

[30] Lk 7:47

[31] Lk 23:34

[32] Rom 3:9-18; 5:8; 1 Cor 6:9-11

[33] Col 3:13

[34] 2 Pet 3:18

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