Sermon for December 30, 2012

Sermon for First Sunday after Christmas

December 30, 2012, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Colossians 3:12-17

Sermon Theme:  “Clothes Make the Man; Naked People Have Little Influence on Anybody”


(Emphasis online commentary; Emphasis online illustrations; original ideas; Concordia Journal, Fall 2012)


Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  If that is true, and I’m sure it is, imagine the influence someone dressed in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and love will have on society!

Our sermon text from Paul’s letter to the Colossians has an incredible amount of thought packed into only 6 verses and is very intense.  Now Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians to try to counter some heretic teachings that were going on in that congregation.  We think that the heresy was Gnosticism, which could have adversely affected the life and lifestyle of Christians.

In the union of each Christian with the death and resurrection of Christ in Baptism, the Christian “put off” his old life and “put on” the new life in Christ.  Now the Gnostics tried to make something else out of this concept that was unbiblical.  Paul uses the picture language of the new Christian taking off the clothes of his sinful life and putting on the new clothes of the life in Christ.  The Christian is able to do this, because Christ suffered and died for us, took our place, to redeem us so that we could be reconciled with God.

Our text begins, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

So the new clothes of the reborn Christian are compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  This list of Christian virtues given in our text differs from other such lists in other epistles.  In this list we don’t see faithfulness, self-control, and goodness; but we have to realize that all of these virtues would be seen in the born again Christian.  In countering Gnosticism, Paul chooses to emphasize the virtues he lists in the text.

One of the best ways to illustrate Paul’s message is to use the kids’ sermonette I had originally planned to give today.  I chose another theme for the kids so that I could share this one with all of you.

For my original sermonette, I was going to ask the kids about the gifts they received for Christmas.

“How many of you received clothes for Christmas?”  I was going to ask.  And I’m sure that most of our kids would have raised their hands.  My next question was going to be, “How many of you received clothes that you are going to wear for the rest of your lives?”  Of course none of them would have raised their hands on that question; kids outgrow their clothes so quickly.

Then I was going to give them packages with clothes that would last them for the rest of their lives.  As Paul says, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”  Such clothes will serve you well for the rest of your lives.

And in our text, Paul also adds another garment.  He says, “And above all these. Put on LOVE, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Paul has said in other writings that “love” was the most important virtue, and he is saying it again here after he mentions  the other virtues.

During a blizzard, a poor, simple woman went into a department store wanting to buy a coat.  The rather haughty saleslady, trying to impress the woman, asked her a series of questions:  “Are you looking for something in a tweed or knit?  Are you interested in fur or more of a cloth type coat?  We have beautiful colors and many that have great versatility for your wardrobe. “

Startled, the poor woman replied, “I’m just looking for a warm coat.”

Love is like a warm coat when there’s a blizzard outside.  In the text, Paul is saying, “to crown all, there must be love to bind all together and complete the whole.”  Clothing makes the new man or the new woman; our spiritual wardrobe is complete!

Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, finished off with love, — what a perfect new Christmas outfit for any of us to wear.  We may not be used to such garments, because we’ve not had them before, but this is an outfit worth getting used to!  What a wonderful new outfit to wear to begin the New Year!

We all have a sense of the way things ought to be, whether it’s in the area of interior decorating, or landscaping, or interpersonal relationships, we kind of feel like we know how things ought to be, but we’re not sure how to get things to be like that.

In our text, Paul has given us a glimpse of the way things ought to be, specifically the way things ought to be in the church.  He identifies the Colossian congregation as “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.”  That identifies us, too.  You see, we are not volunteers who do God some kind of favor by our occasional service.  No, Paul reminds us that we are chosen by God.  “That we are beloved” shows our relationship with God.  “That we are holy” tells the nature of what our lives should be.

In other words, those virtues we’ve been talking about, “compassion, kindness, etc.,” are the nature of God, so what that boils down to, is we are called and commanded to be like Him.

Then if we are going to be like God, we must bear with each other, and if we have a complaint against the other, we are to forgive as God forgives.  That’s what Christian behavior is all about; anything less than that is not Christian behavior.

If you don’t wear these virtues, then you are spiritually naked, and, as Mark Twain said, “Naked people have little influence on anybody.”

To be sure, these compact instructions from Paul paint us a picture of the way things ought to be: specifically, the way things ought to be in the church.  It’s not that there are no complaints or grievances here, but there are no grudges or factions.  Self-interest gives way to love.  All ordinary human discord is replaced by perfect harmony.  Gratitude and unity prevail, and the word, the peace, and the name of Christ reign supreme.  Amen.


The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.