Acting Out…Getting Rid of Ugly Actions

Today wraps up our Blog series on the Ugly Christmas Sweaters.  At Christmas time especially, our Thoughts, Words, Motivations can be just as ugly as our Ugly Christmas Sweaters.  Thankfully it doesn’t have to be that way!

Today we are talking about Ugly Actions

We need to be mindful of our actions no matter what time of year it is, but Christmas is a season when we can make conscious decisions to bless people.

At Christmas we can see, all at one time, the best AND worst of humanity

Some of the same people who raise a candle and sing Silent Night are the same people who pushing people out of the way to get a PS5. 

How do these extremes happen all at once?

The Bible talks about two competing natures that are constantly at war with in each human. One nature inspires us to love people and live humbly – while the other nature causes us to want to look out for ourselves first while pushing others down. 

This battle begins when we are very young. You can see it in small children, they can be the sweetest kindest beings on the planet and then have an absolute meltdown because mom won’t let them eat Mac and Cheese off of the floor.

And this battle doesn’t get any easier as we get older either…

People Do Crazy Things in the Name of Christmas

According to www.blackfridaydeathcount.com there is a lot of violence in the name of Christmas on Black Friday. 

Yes, that is an actual website and yes, there are verified links to news articles for each of the 17 deaths and 125 injuries since they started keeping track in 2006. Just to get the right gift, the right deal, the best spot, the most attention, whatever it is, lots of people will do crazy things in the name of Christmas. 

Just about every town has a Clark W. Griswold that will have at least 25,000 sparkling Christmas Lights to light up their whole neighborhood! Here’s one that is local to where I love. 

There’s something about this time of year that causes people to reorient their entire lives around the holidays. Normally rational human beings will cover their homes in lights, buy too many gifts, and do all kinds of other crazy things…their schedules change, attitudes change, budgets change.

WHY? Because it’s Christmas!

You Pick Your Outfit

No matter what kind of crazy sweater someone chooses to wear, they picked it. The Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians and gives them this insight for the kinds of actions to show in their lives. 

Colossians 3:12, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 

The English word, “Clothe” is actually the Greek word: Enduo – which literally means, sink yourself into or cover yourself.  I like to think of it as when you nestle down into a blanket and really snuggle in. 

I remember my checking in on my youngest daughter when she was very young to make sure she was sleeping in bed. She had just finished doing some reading and she said, “Oh hi daddy, I just got cozied in.”

We need to sink into, cozy into, a new way of living…no more acting like old ugly Christmas sweaters, we intentionally put on new and better kinds of actions. 

The kind of intention it takes to pick out your Christmas Eve best clothes, your Christmas pajama set, is the same kind of intention it takes to live as people intentionally bringing good into the world. 

You don’t wake up each day and doing Godly actions and avoiding ugly actions. 

We choose that, we decide each day how we will treat others. 

  • How we treat our spouse.
  • How we treat our kids.
  • How we treat our friends. 
  • How we treat our coworkers, classmates and on and on the list goes. 

First he says, clothe yourselves with Compassion

Compassion

Compasstion is the ability to see a situation from someone else’s vantage point. To feel what someone else is feeling. Compassion is what leads people to serve others or to give sacrificially. Compassion is the key to changing a broken world. This takes a selfless attitude and results in people actually listening to one another. 

Kindness

Sounds like a simple word but it is much harder to actually live out. Kindness is what happens when we are always looking for practical ways to serve one another. 

Kindness is saying the right thing at just the right time or taking action when you are in a position to make a difference. Kindness is doing the right thing to positively impact those around you. 

Humility

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking about yourself less. Humility is taking on the kind of mentality Jesus taught us and modeled for us. Selfishness is ugly and is the basis of all sinful action. Humility then is the way in which sin is overcome and the way of Jesus is made a reality.        

Gentleness

This comes from a word meaning controlled strength. This word is not about weakness, it is about power. This power comes from the spirit of God living in us, and it helps us control our impulses. In gentleness, our actions express themselves in service to the weak and powerless among us. This is not a word that describes a wimp; it describes someone who is not afraid to step into injustice or brokenness to instigate change. 

Patience

This word can be translated as long-suffering. It means to put up with something for a long time before getting angry or giving up. Clothing yourself in patience allows you to love people who are hard to love and serve people who are hard to serve. Patience is the key to becoming someone who looks like Jesus, because spiritual maturity does not happen overnight.

None of these attributes come naturally to us. We must choose them and put them on. We have to CLOTHE ourselves with them. 

There is a common thread running through that list of attributes and that thread is love. 

We have to clothe ourselves with love because if we don’t have love, then we don’t have anything. 

Elsewhere in his writing, Paul will say that the greatest of these is love because if we don’t have it then we are nothing but a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.

Love is the common thread, the binding attribute that ties together Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, and Patience

Love is a Verb

In order to really love others, we have to put love into action.  To move from ugly actions to godly ones, it starts with love. The Greek word Paul uses in the passage is, Agape. Agape is a love that will cost us something. 

The question is, are we willing to pay the cost to live with love? We cannot just SAY we love people, we must SHOW we love people through our actions. 

We have an incredible opportunity to love people around us.  In loving others, we make God evident to a world who cannot see him.  The mark of a Jesus follower is someone who is dedicated to embracing God’s amazing love for us and allowing this love to overflow. 

Love is Action.

Therefore, as we head toward Christmas tomorrow, I want to challenge all of us to choose one person or one family to offer sacrificial love to. To put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience in the way we treat them. 

You can turn your ugly actions into something beautiful for you and the people around you to experience. 

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