Sermon – Col.3:12-17 – PUT ON THE NEW

There was a popular song, sung a while back by Bing Crosby.
But many other artists have recorded it over the years – more recently, Paul McCartney.

It's a Johnny Mercer song first featured in the 1944 film HERE COME THE WAVES.
And it goes like this:

You've got to ac-cent-u-ate the positive,
E-lim-in-ate the negative,
Latch - on - to the affirmative,
And don't mess with Mr. In-between.

Writing to the Christians in Colossae;
In the passage before today's reading, Paul has shown us how to eliminate the negative.
Now, in today's epistle, he shows us how to accentuate the positive. Here it is again:

"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other;
just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. " (Colossians 3:12)

The burning topic at the moment is Mental Health.
It's in the news right now!
So it's worth spending some time on what Paul is advising us to do here.

How do you get up in the morning?
Or are you an early riser?
With difficulty, perhaps?
Albert Einstein once said, "The problem with the speed of light is, it comes too early in the morning!"

But, whatever time we get started, Paul's word is, "clothe yourselves."
When we get up, we should deliberately put on these qualities of life.
Eliminate the negative as the song goes and then clothe yourself.
Put on deliberately, in our thinking, these seven qualities that reflect the life and temperament of Jesus.

The first two are compassion and kindness.
Compassion is a sense of sympathy, of empathy – to be able to understand and share another person's feelings.
And kindness is the action that reveals compassion, action that arises out of a sense of sympathy.
It can take many different forms – a smile, a kind word, a pat on the shoulder, an offer of help.
We are to put on compassion and kindness as we start our day and throughout the day.

The next two are humility and meekness.
Humility tops the list because it is the exact opposite of pride.
Thus, we are to put on humility, to think humbly of ourselves.
We are not to consider ourselves in any way as superior to others.
A modern proverb puts it well, we are to remember that "all of us are made in the same mold, only some are moldier than others!"

Meekness isn't weakness.
It's just the opposite.
Meekness is best described as "strength under control."
It is a real strength.
It doesn't have to display itself or show off how strong it is.
This is what our Lord beautifully displayed when he described himself as "meek and lowly in heart."

The next two qualities are patience and forbearance.
Patience is enduring another's annoying conduct.
Holding back, restraining ourselves from becoming upset or speaking sharply to somebody whose conduct we find difficult and exasperating.

Forbearance means literally to "to uphold and support" someone.
It's the positive side of patience.
Not only to restrain yourself but to support others, encourage them.
It is a great Christian quality.

The last quality is forgiveness.
And heartfelt forgiveness is a beautiful thing!
"just as the Lord has forgiven you,"
Paul reminds us, "so you also must forgive."

Then, having put on each of these seven beautiful qualities,
Paul tells us to wrap it all around with the bond of love:
"over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Next, the apostle moves beyond our lives as individuals, to the church.
And this passage introduces us to two gracious young ladies:
Sophia – wisdom, and Grace – Latin Gratia, but the Greek word is karitas – charity.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly en pase sophia - in all wisdom;
teaching and counselling one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace – gratitude – in your hearts to God."

"Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly."
We are to "teach and counsel one another," everybody – in homes, in church, in Bible study groups – we should gather about the Word.
We ought to thoroughly know and understand this book.
This is not dead, lifeless truth!
It is alive, vital, refreshing and illuminating! It dispels doubts, fears and difficulties.
We are to centre our lives around the Word of God.

And finally – every choir's favourite – the music – the ministry of music.

And we are a singing church – singing "psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs"!
Choir practice is on Friday evening, by the way – starting at 7 o'clock sharp!

Hymns are literally praise songs, responses that humans have composed to reflect with thanksgiving on what God has done.
With this is linked "spiritual songs" – these would be the canticles that we find in our prayer book and in the Psalter – testimony songs which reflect, again, how God has led us.

And there's a whole compendium of theology in all that we sing.
You may have come to church today depressed and discouraged, but as the congregation lifts up one of these great hymns we are all lifted by it as well.

So, what better way can there possibly be to accentuate the positive, to eliminate the negative, and not mess with Mr. In between.

Amen.