My son used to work at an aluminum foundry. When he finished work he would be covered from head to toe with the filthy debris from the foundry. However when he came home from work, before his wife allowed him to come into the house he would have to leave the work garments on the porch. Those soiled garments had to stay outside of the clean house.
The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Colosse about how they lived before they trusted Christ as their Savior. He reminded them of some of the filthy behaviors that used to characterize their lives. In Colossians 3:5-7 he says: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them”. Those sinful behaviors no longer were to be a part of their redeemed life and they were to reckon themselves dead to them. Paul then challenges all believers to put off and lay aside some additional sinful garments in Col. 3:8,9. We must put off sinful attitudes and actions like anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying. As we rid ourselves of the graveclothes and the night garments of our sinful past we must also put on the garments of the day. We live in a clean new house where Christ is all and in all. He is not only the One who saved us from our sins but He is the Lord that helps us in our walk with Him. He desires that we put on the appropriate behaviors that befit our new life in Christ.
I wonder if the garments of our current lifestyle look like we have been working in an aluminum foundry or maybe even a pig pen. Don’t you think it is time to lay aside those filthy clothes and leave them outside? Let’s rise up and walk into the clean house of Christlikeness.
When I was a child I remember those times when my dad used to take the family to pick up walnuts. Each of the children were given a gunnysack and we picked up the walnuts that had fallen from the tree. If you have ever picked up walnuts you know how they stain your hands unless you are wearing rubber gloves. I was doing my best gathering as many walnuts as I could but my gunnysack didn’t seem to fill up. I don’t know how long it was before I discovered that I had a hole in it. No matter how diligent I was at filling the sack and pulling it behind me they came out the other end.
This reminds me of the way many people go through life. They rush around trying to fill their sacks with the pleasures and delights of this world. But no matter how hard they try those pleasures seem to elude them. The Bible offers us to go on a different pursuit. Instead of seeking pleasure under the walnut trees we need seek the things that are above the trees. Paul challenges us in Col. 3:1,2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth”. This verse points us in a different direction. We should be seeking, going after, pursuing, and spending our energy and time on our spiritual life. We need to daily dig into God’s Word, get wrapped up in meaningful times of prayer, and meditate on verses of Scripture. We should be constantly looking for ways to give to others, be on the lookout for evangelistic opportunities, and maintain a constant spirit of confession.
As we pursue laying up these treasure in heaven we will never lose them. These treasures will not come out the other end of our sack. And as we lay our hands on them they will not leave an ugly stain like the worldly pleasures under the walnut tree.
Have you ever had “one of those days”? I was on my way to take my pug to the vet. He was scheduled for an early morning surgery but I decided to swing by McDonalds for a coffee. I left him in the truck and went in just for a couple minutes. When I returned my dog was eagerly waiting for me with his paws on the window sill. I pulled at the door but found that Sarge had accidentally locked the door and my keys were still in the ignition. As I waited for my second set of keys I found a rod in the back and tried to slide it in to unlock the window. My efforts resulted in a shattered window but a rescued pug.
Sarge had locked himself in my truck and was helpless to get out. I find sometimes people get locked into certain situations that they can’t get themselves out of. Perhaps a sinful lifestyle or an addiction or even a state of discouragement or depression can lock us in and refuse to let us go. Our gracious Heavenly Father does not want us confined and locked in. He has made us to be free from sin and always gives us a way out. He tells us in 1 Cor. 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape…”. I think of David locked in a sinful affair refusing to repent and God sent Nathan with the rod of rebuke and helped David out of his sinful denial. I think of Elijah locked into a serious depression and God sent an angel with the rod of encouragement who fed and ministered to Elijah until he was ready to get up and get back in service.
Are you finding yourself locked in? God loves you so much. If you are His child He will take radical measures to rescue you. He may even have to break a few windows to get you out.
It was entertaining watching the toddler stooping down trying to pick up his shadow. He couldn’t understand why he kept coming up empty handed. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t catch his shadow because it simply wasn’t real. It is only the shade that is cast by the real child. Playing with shadows can be fun for toddlers and those who entertain with shadow puppets, however living in the shadows is tragic.
The apostle Paul spoke to the believers in Colosse who were being tempted by the false teachers to add law keeping to their Christianity. Paul warned them in Col. 2:16,17: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ”. Christ fulfilled the law by His death on the cross. Those Old Testament laws and festivals, and dietary restrictions were just a shadow of the real person of Jesus Christ who is the substance. We can enjoy a personal relationship with the living Christ who lives within us. Christianity is not about keeping a bunch of rules it is about a vital relationship with Christ.
It is sad that many people are still trying to live out their faith in the shadows of rule keeping. Somehow they feel that if they attend enough church services, or stay away from questionable activities, not listen to certain music, not watch certain TV programs, or read enough Bible verses from the right version they will be in favor with God. When will we learn that the Christian life is all about Jesus Christ? We begin by receiving Him, we continue on our journey by following Him, we delight in loving Him, and we grow stronger by walking with Him.
Don’t you think it is time to quit playing in the shadows? Christ is the substance. A personal relationship with Him is what it is all about.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation