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Broken-In Clothing

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Sermon on Colossians 3:12-17

Title:  Broken-In Clothing

Theme:  Clothe yourself with Christlike virtues. 

Goal: to encourage Christians to clothe themselves with Christlike virtues.

Need:  In professing faith in Christ, we often do not clothe ourselves completely with the Christlike virtues.


  1. Introduction
  2. Put on the virtues.
  3. Be Sure to Forgive
  4. Over all put on love
  5. Conclusion

Sermon in Oral Style

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          Weddings are great aren’t they?  Until you have to go to a dozen in a summer, right?  I am wondering if anyone here this morning was invited or attended over 5 weddings this summer.  Anyone 6, 7, 8.  Lots of weddings.  If you have been to several weddings you may recognize this passage as a familiar wedding passage.  It also happens to by Angela’s and my wedding text.  Specifically verse 14 in the passage.  Over all these virtues put on love which binds them together in perfect unity.

          It is very appropriate as a reminder for a couple during their marriage of the type of person of character they ought to be.  Not just on their wedding day.  Not just as husband and wife or as parents.  But as human beings in a relationship with the God of the universe. 

You guys who made profession of faith today know that already know that this passage is not just for the married couple.  During the first half of the summer the class had one major assignment.  Read the book of Ephesians and reflect on it every single night.  During the second half of the summer I gave you a new major assignment read the book of Colossians and reflect on it every single night.  That’s part of the reason why I chose this passage for the message this week.  You are all quite familiar already with the book of Colossians and what it tells us about a new relationship with Christ.  You know how Paul carefully and passionately shows us how to live like Christ.

A passage like Colossians 3:12-17 makes us realize how much potential for good God originally imbedded right into human beings.  He created us as people who would naturally have all the virtues its talks about in this passage, but because of the fall into sin, we just don’t have them naturally.  Naturally, we have a sinful nature. 


          The beginning of Colossians 3 really lays out for us the ways that our nature is stained.  Is there anyone anywhere who can dodge these accusations from Paul.  The sinful nature includes sexual immorality, impurity, evil desires, lust, greed, anger, malice, rage, slander, filthy language, and lying.  Paul could probably have listed more, but I think he gets his point across.  Instead he lets the list speak for itself. The sinful nature has us all. 

The sinful nature is almost like one of those days where you got ready in a hurry, spent all day busy with people at your job.  Then you get home to find out you had the XXL tag from the store on the clothes all along, or you had a big stain from something your kids left on the front seat of the car.  Dirty and stained.

          Being spiritually dirty and stained in unacceptable for anyone washed in the blood of Christ.  If a person believes in God, and believes that Jesus Christ died for peoples sins, then the next step is taking off the old garbage and putting on the new.


          He starts like a wife who is trying to help her husband who lives in a fashion vacuum of plaid pants and striped shirts to put the right clothes on, laying it right out on the bed for him.  “You are not going out like that today are you?  Here put this on instead.” 

As Christians.  As people chosen by Christ to be different, as people that Christ gave his life for we need to always look to see in which ways our dress is a little cockeyed.  We need to look and see where we are living in a virture vacuum.  Listen to these virtues carefully for yourself.  Where could you use the most work?  Where do you owe it to Christ to put on the beautiful garment he has laid out for you?

Verse 12:  12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

          We hear so much from Paul so quickly.  The garment that Christians ought to wear is not layers like you would wear in the winter.  It is one garment that includes all caring for the emotionally broken, reaching out with a nice gesture to others, think of others before thinking of yourself.  Waiting with patience for the Lord’s timing.

          Then in just a flash again he mentions the little strand of forgiveness.  You can tell Paul must be using the familiar phrase from Jesus as he taught his disciples to pray.  Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.  One of the strands of the Christian garment of virtues must be forgiveness of others.  In the Heidelberg Catechism its says that the Christian ought is covered by the blood of Christ, and has so much gratitude for that forgiveness that they will overflow and forgive others.  Even in the difficult situations.

          Perhaps you find this to be a short coming in your life.  Who is it that you just can’t forgive?  Who comes to your mind when you think of that person that you need to let off the hook.  That’s what forgiveness is, right?  Why do you hold on to it?  Have you made any steps toward showing your thanks to Christ Jesus by slowly releasing your pent  up bitterness, or your inability to share kind words with each other.

          And over everything else, put on loveIts like the accessory that you wear that ties the whole outfit together.  Or maybe its more like the stitching that holds all the different weaves and fabrics of this new clothing in Christ together.  If Love is missing from your life, love of God and love of friend, neighbors and family, if love is missing from your life than all the other virtues that you might claim to have are really just worthless little bit of cloth. 

  Another text and a favorite one for weddings comes from 1 Corinthians 13.  It says, 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.


  And at the end of that chapter it says, these three remain, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love. 

  Think about this in the context of your life.  It doesn’t matter what you are doing, and how good of a person you might be.  If you do not excel in love, it’s nothing.  Congregation, no matter where we are in our faith walk.  We need to work at our love.

          You are on your way to the wool sweater convention where everyone really loves checking out each others wool sweaters.  They won’t let you in the door if you show up with the wool in little balls still waiting to be knit.  You need Love that holds all the virtues together in perfect unity and makes all of your compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, and everything else fit together as a beautiful garment.

          When do clothes fit the best?  I find a pair of jeans the most comfortable after they have been worn in pretty well.  I know some people here have seen my softball pants.  I just love them.  Some people might say they are ready for the garbage.  I think they are just worn in perfectly now.  Clothing feels more comfortable as it gets broken in.  And the only way to do that is by wearing it.


          I hope the compassion, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, love and all the other virtues are broken in real well by all of us here today.  Think about what Christ’s garment of virtues would have looked like.  He wore it all the time perfectly.  His garment was worn so perfectly it was almost unsightly.  He was so compassionate he touched the lepers.  He was so forgiving he released the woman caught in adultery.  He was so humble he died on a cross.  He was so loving died, laying down his life for his friends.  Talk about a garment that is broken in and warn quite thin. 

          Kind of different sitting here in the front row of church isn’t it?  That’s so I don’t have to look all over the place to try and talk to you directly.  I want to encourage each one of you who have professed your faith in Christ to wear the garment of godly virtues with pride every single day.  And if you are new at this, you will find out that it might fit a little bit uncomfortably at first.  It feels different because maybe you were used to wearing the old garment, the sinful nature. 

Maybe some of us here who sit in church every week are experiencing the comfort of our sinful nature because we have broken it in again.  We are comfortably too proud to ask for help from anyone.  It is still pride.  We are comfortably too greedy to look out for the needs of the poor and the hurting.  We are comfortably too busy to make a second thought of opening up our home to someone who is lonely or left out.  We are comfortably too lost to admit that Jesus Christ makes sense, that his death and resurrection make sense, we are too lost to admit that God is the only way to be found again.

Wear the garment of virtues like Christ did.  Break it in.  Wear it to the threads.  It will still hold together because love is holding it that way.

The message isn’t new.  Put on the virtues of Christ.  Break them in by wearing them.  Put on compassion.  Put on forgiveness.  And over everything else, put on love.  Love holds it all together.  Break it all in.  Make it all good through Jesus Christ.

Let me encourage you like Paul does, put on those stiff and crisp clothes.  Break them in.

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