December 27, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Some the gifts I received for Christmas are already gone. Even though it has only been a couple of days since Christmas, the box of cookies I received is gone. I also received some candles for Christmas, but they are still around. Every year, some of the gifts you receive at Christmas last longer than others.
The Christmas jammies are another example of a short-lived gift. Christmas jammies are a fun gift and make for great pictures, but you don’t want to wear long sleeve, pants jammies made out of wool in the summer months, especially in Texas. Christmas jammies might work for a little while, but much like a box of cookies, they have a short shelf life. Those presents that only give us a few days or weeks of joy cannot compare with the gifts that last. Yet, we keep giving one another those gifts that do not last. Now, I’m not saying you need to stop giving Christmas cookies or Christmas jammies as gifts. My point is that the kind of gift you need to keep giving one another is the kind that lasts.
When you give a gift that lasts, the thankfulness lasts. The thankfulness for cookies only lasts a short while until you realize that now you need to add another five, ten or fifteen pounds to your New Year’s resolution weight loss goal. And, when you realize that last year’s Christmas jammies do not fit, again your attitude of thankfulness goes away rather quickly.
The gift you need is one that keeps you thankful. This is the kind of gift God gave you at Christmas through your Savior Jesus. Paul wrote in Colossians 3, 12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” About sixty years after the first Christmas, Paul wrote these words to the Colossians reminding them of the gift of God that was still giving and certainly never gets old. He reminded the Colossians that God chose them as his people making them holy, sinless, forgiven and perfect through Jesus because of his great love for them. Paul also encouraged the Colossians to dress themselves with the gift God gave them. They were not to live seasonally as Christians as if they could be God’s people one day wearing “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Then, the next day put on selfishness, hatred, pride, cruelty and impatience.
Just like the Colossians, you and I were not made to live as seasonal believers. When you put on “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” at work, but at home you are cruel, lazy and impatience, you fail to clothe yourself as one of God’s people. When you put on “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” with your kids, but with your spouse are closed off, selfish and belittling, you fail clothe yourself as one of God’s people. When you put on “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” at school and with friends, but with your parents are rude, rebellious and argumentative, then you fail to clothe yourself as one of God’s people. You and I cannot treat what God has called us to be like a seasonal pair of pajamas that can be put on whenever it is to our advantage but taken off when we are called to show real love, love that looks to the good of someone else.
The love that looks to the good of others, is the love that God has for you. Even as God’s people, you and I fall back into sin. You and I go back into our closets and pull out our old sins, sometimes with our thoughts as if standing in the mirror gazing at temptation and longing to do what is wrong, and sometimes we put our old sins on and run out into the world to live as if we knew nothing of our Savior.
God knew his gift of God’s forgiveness had to be one that keeps on giving. God knew that he had to make a lasting peace between you and him. God had to be the one to send his Son at Christmas to save us because we are lost on our own as we heard in our reading from Isaiah 45, 20 “Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save.” Nothing in this world can save us, no philosophy or great works of philanthropy. The only way for us to be saved, for us to have peace, for you to be cleansed from all your sins and to have eternal life is through the one true God. And God wants you to be saved, as we hear in Isaiah 45, 22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” God has called out to you and given you the gift of faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus is peace because he has made you good in God’s eyes. Jesus made you good in God’s eyes by wearing all of your sins on the cross. When God saw Jesus on the cross, he only saw your sins and the sins of the world, but those sins were left there through Jesus’ death. And, through his resurrection Jesus has proved his power to give you eternal life, and he has given you his clean, perfect record to wear before God so that you are at peace with God, no longer separated from him by your sins.
God’s gift of Jesus keeps you thankful. We remain in need of Jesus’ forgiveness until we reach heaven. His endless gift of forgiveness keeps you thankful. And to show love for one another then, we keep giving the gift of Jesus to one another as Paul wrote in Colossians 3, 16 “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” As we join with one another in worship, we keep giving the gift of Christmas as we share the word of Christ growing in our understanding of all God has done for us. We keep giving the gift too in Bible Studies, in conversations between believers, reading the Bible with our children, and any time when we share what Christ has done with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We also keep giving the gift as we apply the Word of God with one another in more direct ways as Paul wrote, 13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Just as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6, Paul reminds us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Since Jesus has died for all sins, our sins are forgiven, and so are all those sins that others commit against us. In love, we then forgive, which is really comforting one another with the good news that what they have done will not be held against them and that they are free from punishment. This is the freedom that we have in Jesus’ forgiveness while living with each other as people still infected with our sinful nature. We are free from our sins and free from holding sins against one another because of Christ. And with that love in our hearts, and always returning to what Christ has done for us, Paul then encourages us to live as Christ’s people who have been shone love, 14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Paul reminds us that Christ is the one working in us to show love to one other, love that looks like “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” These flow out of a heart that has been put at peace with God because of the gift of our Savior Jesus.
There was a man who was given the good news that he would see the Savior before he died. And just days after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple where the man name Simeon saw his Savior. It was a gift he had been thankful for all his life, and when he had the added gift of seeing Jesus in person, he praised God saying, Luke 2, 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations.” Give one another the same gift as Simeon received and keep giving one another the gift of Christmas, Christ! Amen.