A sermon based on Colossians 3:12-17
First Baptist Church of Lynchburg
December 26, 2021
By Paul Dakin
May the words of my mouth and the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord our
Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were indeed you were called in the one
body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

I am going to let you in on a secret about preaching that I have discovered in the seven years
that I have been your pastor…
I am a preacher that follows what is known in church circles as “the lectionary” for Sunday
sermons. I have been known to deviate from it on occasion, but mostly I have stuck to it…
For those who may not be familiar with the lectionary, it is a three year cycle of Biblical texts
that form the basis of weekly worship in many Christian denominations. Each Sunday usually includes a
minimum of four texts: an Old Testament reading, a psalm (or a portion of a psalm), a gospel reading,
and a reading from the epistles. The idea behind the lectionary is that, within the three year cycle, all
the major themes of the scriptures, all of the most important passages, and all the major Bible stories
will be covered. In using the lectionary each week, the preacher will choose one of those texts to preach
from each week. The other scriptures for the week will also be used in the worship service.
Though there are certainly notable exceptions, many Baptist preachers that I know have an
aversion to using the lectionary as a guide for their preaching. I am not entirely sure why that is. If they
were asked, my hunch is that they would say that they just want to depend on the leadership of the
Holy Spirit to tell them what to preach each week. (The assumption seems to be that the Spirit cannot
speak to the preacher through the lectionary.)
Well…maybe. My observation about preachers who do not use the lectionary is that their
sermons often gravitate back to the same old scripture texts and same old worn-out themes. By
following the lectionary, the preacher is sometimes forced to honestly wrestle with scripture texts that
he or she might not choose to preach on otherwise. Frankly I think that is a good thing…It is a good thing
for the preacher to have to grapple with unfamiliar or difficult texts…And it is a good thing for the
congregation that they serve to hear sermons from texts that are off the beaten path…Ultimately it
offers both congregation and preacher an opportunity to grow in their understanding of the scriptures
and of their faith…
The lectionary is not without its drawbacks though. In preparing for worship each week, there
have been times when I have stared at the assigned texts for the next Sunday and not felt drawn by the
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Spirit to any of them. At least nothing initially was speaking to me. However, as I continued to pray over
and contemplate the texts, the Spirit would be gracious to lead me to a particular passage in time to
prepare a sermon for the next Sunday.
But this Sunday was not one of those instances where nothing initially caught my attention. The
passage from Colossians that forms the basis of this sermon is one of the lectionary texts for today. And
I do not think I could have chosen a better text to consider with you on our last Sunday together…
Scholars tell us that Colossians is one of the letters that the Apostle Paul wrote from prison. It is
thought that he wrote it during his first imprisonment in Rome around 62 AD. Interestingly, there is no
record that Paul had ever visited the church at Colosse. But it is obvious that he was well acquainted
with their situation. And he was writing to offer some teaching and some encouragement to them.
Earlier in the book, Paul writes to combat what scholars have termed “the Colossian heresy.”
Details on exactly what was going on in the church are sketchy. The heresy is not explicitly mentioned. It
is generally thought that perhaps some non-Christian pagan elements had crept into the church’s life
and worship. This mixing of Christian and pagan elements was apparently affecting the life of the
congregation in negative ways…and so Paul deals with it early in his letter…
By the time we get to the third chapter of Colossians, Paul has moved past the controversy in
the church and he is reviewing what it means to live like a Christian. He says that, because your life is
now hidden in Christ, your minds should be set on heavenly things instead of being dominated by the
concerns of the world.
In verses five through eleven, Paul reels off a list of things that Christians are to avoid. This
includes things like sexual immorality, lust, greed, and evil desires. (Interestingly, Paul singles out greed
with an additional comment which calls greed nothing short of idolatry. That is, Paul says that being
greedy is nothing less than the worship of a rival god: the god of money. Given our culture’s emphasis
on money and possessions—even among some of those who are professing Christians—doesn’t that
have a contemporary ring to it?!) Then we pick up our text in verse 12…
In verse 12, Paul mentions five values that are to be characteristic of the Christian life. Those
values are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The rest of the text simply amplifies
the point that he makes in that verse. Paul points to those qualities of life which, if present, will
eliminate—or at least reduce—frictions among the members of the congregation…All of them are really
different descriptions of what it means to love one another. That is what Jesus told his disciples to do.
Because of that, they are of paramount importance in the life of the Spirit. Those five characteristics
Compassion—Compassion is the ability—and the willingness—to look at a situation through
someone else’s eyes. When we are able to live in someone else’s skin for a while, we are able to
feel the things that they feel, to understand things as they understand them, and to feel
empathy with them. Compassion also means to express pity and tenderness toward those who
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are suffering and in misery. Our model, of course, is Jesus who had compassion on the city of
Jerusalem and on the multitudes whom he taught. Next is—
Kindness—Kindness incorporates the concepts of goodness and graciousness. One
commentator has suggested that kindness is “a sweetness of disposition.” In other places in the
New Testament, kindness as a virtue is contrasted with severity—a quality that is stern and
A third quality that Paul mentions is—
Humility—Humility comes from a Greek word that originally meant “to serve others”, but came
to be known as character trait. It is thinking of ourselves in a lowly fashion, knowing that all that
we have, and all that we are, and all that we ever can become is not due to our own effort and
work. It is realizing that these things are nothing other than gifts from God’s gracious hand.
There are no “self-made men” pulling themselves sup by their own bootstraps in the Kingdom of
God. Everything is due to grace—God’s grace working inside of each of us—pure and simple.
Meekness—Meekness—or gentleness—was not considered to be a positive trait in the ancient
world. Still not considered a positive trait today either. Gentleness is the opposite of selfassertion—of pushing and shoving in order to get your own way. Back in the days of the Roman
Empire, gentleness was seen as a sign of weakness. Gentleness therefore was an undesirable
quality. But Paul says that it is a characteristic of what it means to follow Jesus. It is a special
mark of one who has consideration for the rights and feelings of others. It is the exact opposite
of arrogance and self-assertion, two traits which characterize the world in which we live…. And
then lastly, Paul mentions:
Patience—Patience is the ability to bear up under hurts and insults without needing to retaliate.
It is my observation that patience is one of the hardest things for the child of God to cultivate.
And I think that is due in no small part to the society in which we live. In a day of instant coffee,
instant breakfasts, instant oatmeal—and that abomination of the culinary world—instant grits,
we do not want to wait for anything. We want what we want and we want it as soon as possible.
But patience teaches us self-restraint. What’s more, patience is a Godly trait because we are
told that patience is an attribute of God.2 When we are patient with others—and ourselves—
then we are imitating God…
When we get to verse 15, we read what I think is the key idea to the whole passage. This is what
I hope will be the main takeaway for you this morning. In verse 15, Paul writes, “Let the peace of Christ
rule in your hearts…and be thankful.”
The Greek word that is translated as “rule” in verse 15 is the word brob-yoo’-o. This is the only
place in the entire New Testament where this word appears. The word brob-yoo’-o actually means “to
act as an umpire” or “to be a referee.” It means to arbitrate and to be an authority.
If you have been following college or professional football this season, then you are probably
aware that there is a lot of dissatisfaction among the fans concerning the officiating. Part of the

See Romans 11:22.
See Romans 2:4.
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unhappiness is due to a number of new rules that have been implemented, interpreted and enforced by
the referees. There are new rules regarding controversial plays that may receive a video review. A video
review may then overturn the original ruling on the field, if the referees determine that the initial call
was incorrect. Also there are new rules concerning targeting and pass interference. These new rules
have been put in place in order to protect the players’ health and to make football a safer sport. I get
that. I applaud the intention of these new rules. Football is the source of a lot of injuries—both short
term injuries and long-term effects that linger even after a player has retired. I once heard a high school
football coach say that “People sometimes call football a “contact sport.” Football isn’t a contact sport.
Kissing is a contact sport. Football is a collision sport.” And if anyone understood that, it certainly was
Coach Hyder…
But while the new rules this season were surely designed to help the players and make the
game more equitable, sometimes it seems that the referees have been given a lot of latitude on how
those rules are to be applied and enforced. Maybe too much latitude in the eyes of many fans. That is
especially true if you think that your team is not getting a fair shake in a particular game. But whether or
not you like an official’s ruling on a particular play, it really does not matter. The officials’ word is final.
They are the ones in charge of governing the game. What the referee says, goes…Like it or not…
Paul tells us here that the peace of Christ is to act as the referee in the life of the follower of
Jesus. It is the peace of Christ that is to be the governing authority of how we are to behave as believers.
It is the peace of God—that peace which passes all understanding—which will guard our hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus.3
Just as a referee helps to sort out the play and make a ruling on what should the
decision should be, so it is in the life of the believer. When we are confronted with a situation where the
godly way forward for us is unclear, then it is Christ’s peace which adjudicates and makes decisions on
what we should do. It is Christ’s peace which shows how we should proceed…
We are not talking about a list of rules that one has to stiffly follow. Such an understanding of
Jesus is wrong. It sucks all the life out of the Christian faith. The Christian life was never designed to be
reduced to soul-killing laws to be strictly followed. That was never God’s intention in sending his son
into the world. Jesus is not so much interested in you following a set of rules, as he is letting your life be
governed by the qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. When the love of
God is shed abroad in our hearts and our lives exhibit these qualities, then we are doing nothing less
than obeying what Jesus called the two great commandments. You remember what those are. Jesus said
that the two great commandments are: “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…and love
others as you love yourself.” What more is there in the life of the Spirit—than loving and serving
God…and loving and serving others?…
And this is my desire and prayer for you on this last Sunday that we will be together. I can say
without fear of contradiction that many of the qualities that the Apostle Paul discussed in this passage
are already present among you. It has been my pleasure and privilege to journey with you over the last

Philippians 4:7.
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seven years. I do not know what God has in store for any of us in the coming days ahead. But I am
confident that he will be able to guard what we have entrusted to him…now and forever.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
And to God alone be the glory! Amen