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Lockdown Lessons

May 10, 2020 | Dave Gustavsen

Make Peace in Your Home

Colossians 3:1-4

I grew up in a family of four boys. I was the second oldest. And for whatever reason, most of the conflict I experienced was with my older brother, Eric. My weapon of choice was psychological torture; he preferred using brute force. But one way or another, we would butt heads over and over again. And sometimes, one of us would get upset enough that we would go to my dad, seeking justice. And that’s when things got interesting. Because instead of solving the conflict for us, he would say, “Eric…David…go into a room together and figure this out. I don’t want to see you until you’ve worked it out.”

So we would slink off together to one of our bedrooms. And at first it was just icy silence. He would sit on one side of the room; I would sit on the other. And we would just wait the other guy out. But after a while, one of us would start to crack—probably from sheer boredom. And we would begin talking. And sometimes there were more accusations, and anger. But eventually there would be some kind of apology, or at least a truce. And we’d go out to my dad and say, “Okay: it was part my fault, and part his fault.” And we would go on our way. Today, I’m happy to say that my brother Eric and I have a really good relationships. And we both realize that our childhood fights were mostly his fault.

So…why do I tell you that story today? Well, we’re taking six weeks to talk about “Lockdown Lessons”: things that God wants to teach us during this time, that we might not learn at any other time. And it seems to me that, through this pandemic, our Father in Heaven has decided to send us to our room for a while to work some things out with each other. Because one of the big lessons we need to learn is how to make peace in our homes.

So let me ask you a question: 8 weeks into the lockdown, how is the peace level in your home? And before you answer, let me define what I mean by “peace.” Sometimes when we say “peace,” we just mean “nobody is fighting.” Right? Nobody is screaming at each other. But the biblical concept of peace is so much richer than that. The Hebrew word shalom means that there is a group of people who are actively involved in each other’s lives. Caring as much about each other’s happiness as their own. Listening to each other. Respecting each other’s views even if they don’t agree on everything. Helping each other with projects. When someone in the home gets a job offer, or makes honor roll, the other people in the home are just as happy as the one who got the job or the good grades. And when someone in the home loses a job or gets broken up with, the other people in the home deeply feel the loss, and the person with the loss feels like their burden being shared. That’s shalom.

So real peace—biblical peace—is so much more than just lack of fighting. So…how’s the peace level in your home? I think God is using this pandemic as a way to send us to our rooms, so we can learn how to live in peace. So on this Mother’s Day, let’s talk about making peace in our homes.

Now, some of you might be thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me, because I’m quarantining alone. There’s nobody else in my home.” But it does apply. Because the things we’re going to talk about today apply to all relationships—even if you’re not in the same physical space, God still calls you to live in peace with the other people in your life.

So, let’s look at today’s passage. We’re in Colossians chapter three. And I’m going to read verses 1-4, verses 7-10, and verses 12-14. Okay? Colossians 3:1-4, 7-10, and 12-14. Hear the Word of the Lord…

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Verse 7: You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

And verse 12: 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. This is the Word of God.

So let’s look at this under three headings. And each of these headings is a phrase that I lifted directly from this passage. So here are the three headings: Set Your Mind, Rid Yourself, and Clothe Yourself. If you are truly going to be a peacemaker in your home during this lockdown, there’s something you have to set your mind on, something you have to rid yourself of, and something you need to clothe yourself with.

So, first: Set Your Mind. Look again at the first few verses. Verse 1 says you have been raised with Christ. Verse 3 says you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ. And verse 4 says: When Christ, show is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. There’s a lot of theology in those verses, but here’s the main point: If you are a believer, your deepest identity is not the family you come from or the school you attended or your wealth or the things you’ve accomplished or the stupid mistakes you’ve made; your deepest identity—the thing that makes you “you”—is your connection with Christ. Jesus re-defines who you are. So Paul says, “Set your heart on that. Set your mind on that. Make that the way you think about yourself.” So the first step in being a peacemaker in your home is you have to start thinking about yourself in the right way.

I have this natural tendency to base my feeling of identity and self on what I have accomplished. So if I have been working hard—diligently writing sermons and counseling people and leading the church and doing my doctoral studies; if I have been taking care of things in my house—doing projects and taking care of Norma Jean’s honey-do list (which is quite a list, by the way); if I have been eating well and exercising; in other words, all those things that are important to me—if I have been faithful in doing all those things, I tend to feel good about myself. And if I’ve been slacking off, I tend to feel a little less valuable as a person. In other words, the place I set my mind is on my performance. And God is in the process of training me to set my mind on something better.

One of the main ways that God trains me is through my daily time in Scripture. Here’s an example: on Friday, April 24—about two weeks ago—my reading for the day was the end of Luke chapter 3. It talks about the baptism of Jesus, right before he started his public ministry. And it says right after Jesus was baptized, there was a voice from heaven, saying, “You are my beloved son. With you I am well-pleased.” So I was meditating on that scene. And I realized that those words were spoken to Jesus before he did any public ministry. Before he had taught anyone or healed anyone or done anything, his Father was pleased with him, simply because he was his son. Hmm.

So in my journal, I wrote these words: “Identity. Security. Love. Blessing. What every child needs to hear.” So God was modeling with his son what every parent should communicate to their kids. A love that’s not dependent on the child’s performance.” But then I thought about it some more, and I wrote this: “And these are the words the Father speaks to us, because we are in Christ.” And I realized that was the thing God really wanted me to grab onto for the day. That was his word to me that morning.

So I transitioned into my prayer time—so I prayed for all the things on my list. But I always close my morning times with God standing up, to receive his blessing for the day. And on that day I prayed something like this: “Lord, thank you for this amazing truth that I am your beloved son, in whom you are well-pleased. I receive your love and your blessing today. Help me to live out of the fullness and security of your love.” And I just stood for about a minute, and received my Father’s blessing.

And then I went about my day. And I’m sure I worked hard and did lots of stuff that day. But I wasn’t doing it to prove that I was worthy. I was doing it out of the security of knowing that I already am worthy. Because I had set my mind on Christ.

Some of you moms really need to hear this today. Because you have gotten caught in this trap of comparing yourself with other mothers. And it’s just toxic. You’re looking at the way they homeschool their kids during the pandemic. You’re looking at all the creative recipes they’re making, and how they’re teaching their kids to sew, and can fruit and memorize a Bible verse every day. And then you look at your own life, and it’s depressing. And you need to know that your value does not depend on your mothering success. I’m going to say that again: your value does not depend on your mothering success. You are a beloved daughter of God, and in you he is well-pleased. Listen to that voice. Set your mind on that. And then, out of that security, go enjoy being a mom.

And I would say the same thing to all the non-moms out there: if you want to be a maker of peace in your home, the first thing you need to do is make some peace in your own heart. And that peace comes from the perfect love of the Father, that is ours through Christ.

Now: it could be that you’ve never experienced God in that personal kind of way. I mean, you believe there’s a god; maybe you grew up in a religious family; but you’ve never made it personal. And your next move is to make it personal. You don’t need me to do that; you don’t need a church ritual to do that. Just look at the cross and say, “God, I believe that sacrifice was made for me; I need your forgiveness; I need your power in my life; and I receive you today.”  The Bible says “to those who receive him, he gives the right to become children of God.” And maybe Mother’s Day 2020 will be the day this all became personal for you, because you make that life-changing decision to receive Christ.

And then, from the security of that relationship, here’s the second thing: Rid Yourself. Look at verse 8: But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  What do all those things have in common? They’re all relational things. Ways we treat other people. I saw an interesting statistic last month: Walmart online is putting up really good sales numbers for clothing. But here’s the thing: it’s almost completely tops. Nobody is buying pants and skirts; everyone’s buying shirts. Why? Well because when your job consists of sitting at a laptop on a video conference, the only part people see is your top half. Right? That’s the only part that matters! So Walmart is making a killing, but here’s the problem: the other people in your home see everything. They see your stained sweat pants, and the socks you haven’t changed in four days. And they see the ugly parts of your personality as well.

Look: if you are in a relationship—any kind of relationship—marriage, parenting, dating, friendship, whatever—you see it all. And there are these pivotal moments where the other person shows a part of themselves that offends you or annoys you. Have you had any of those moments recently?

In my small group this past week, we talked about how the lack of shalom has shown up in their home recently. One guy, who has young kids, said, “In my house, there’s such a delicate balance, with getting the kids to focus on their school work, and keep the house in order, and do your jobs from your laptops in the kitchen, and who’s going to the grocery store today, and where’s my face mask…it’s this delicate balance, and it doesn’t take much to disrupt that balance, and when that happens, tempers fly.”  I thought that was a pretty good description of lack of shalom. One guy was a little more blunt. He said, “I came home one day last week, and my wife was standing at the kitchen sink, angrily washing dishes.” Married men, have you ever seen your wife angrily washing dishes? It’s not good when that happens. So he said, “I offered to help, and she said, ‘I don’t want your help in the kitchen; just go do something with those kids.’” That was not a very shalom-y situation at all.

So we all know those moments, right? When someone does something that upsets you, and you feel your pulse rise a little, and you feel yourself getting angry. And the natural part of you wants to do…what? Look at verse 8: You want to show anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language from your lips. I mean, how accurate is that? Written 2,000 years ago! You want to lash out. And you know if you do that, it’s going to be game on, right? The temperature will get cranked up, and the fight will be on.

Or, some of you react to that kind of stress in a very different way. Instead of attacking, you withdraw. Last week, Aaron and Kellie Seroni wrote an article called “Immunizing your Marriage During Covid-19.” And they said this:

It’s so normal for two spouses to deal differently with stress, chaos, and uncertainty. Under duress, one becomes controlling, louder, and angry while the other quickly grows withdrawn, silent, and irritable. One is hot anger. The other is cold anger. Neither is good.

So maybe you’re not the yell and scream type. But you have ways to show anger, and those ways are just as destructive to the shalom in your house.

So whatever your tendency is, here’s the point: because of your connection with Christ, you now have the power to act differently. Through Christ, you actually have the ability to diffuse that situation and be a catalyst for peace. Paul says, “Rid yourselves of all such things as these.” You can actually do that. When you hear that voice telling you to attack or withdraw, you can choose instead to listen to the voice of Jesus, telling you to rise above it and make peace.

So…set your mind on Christ—let God re-program you every day to find your value and identity in him. And then, out of that center, rid yourself of those things that rob the peace from your home. And then—here’s where it gets really exciting: Clothe Yourself.

Let’s re-read verses 12 through 14. These are some of my favorite verses in the Bible. These are words that several of our staff members have posted in their office, because we’ve leaned on this in our staff relationships. If you are looking for something really helpful to memorize, so you’ll have it when you need it, I can’t think of a better passage to memorize than this. Here’s what it says: 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.

You and I are being called to make a decision. To take a certain action: “clothe yourself.” See, there is this piece of clothing—let’s call it a shirt. And it’s hanging in your closet. It didn’t use to be there, before you knew Christ. But it’s there now. Back in verse 10, it talks about “taking off the old self, and putting on the new self.” So this is a call to intentionally put on a different version of yourself, like you’re putting on a shirt. And it’s that version of you that is supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit to do what you could never do otherwise. To respond to annoying things and annoying people in a way that is far beyond your own ability.If you don’t put it on, or if you only put it on on Sunday mornings, for church, here is the promise I will make: there will be no peace in your home. Because your old self—that old shirt you’re wearing—is a peace-breaking shirt. So without the power of God, you will either break the peace by yelling and screaming, or you will break the peace by silence and passive aggression. But one way or another, without putting on your new self, there will be no shalom in your home. 

But with that shirt, you will be amazed at what’s possible. So these last few verses give us a vision of the kind of peace that’s possible in your home. And as we close the service today, I want to invite you to imagine what this could look like in your home. If you look at the label on a shirt, it says “60% cotton; 20% polyester; 10% rayon,” right? This shirt that we’re being called to put on has five things listed on the tag—it’s in verse 12: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Let’s paint a quick picture of your home when you’re wearing that shirt.

First, compassion. It’s the Greek word splangknon, which means literally “guts or innards,” but it came to mean an emotional connection with the suffering of other people. Often in the Gospels, it says Jesus was moved with compassion—like his guts were twisted up when he saw the pain of others. He felt it like it was his own pain. So guys, you walk in your house, and your wife is angrily washing dishes. And she barks orders at you. And if you’re like me, your natural inclination is, “Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how my day has been? Don’t you think maybe I need a break? I walk in the house and you start yelling at me? I don’t deserve this kind of treatment.” That’s the old self talking. That’s me, wearing my old shirt. Anyone else?

So let’s rewind and do this over. Let’s go back out the door and come in again. You walk in, and your wife is angrily washing dishes. And she barks orders at you. And you feel that inclination to go back at her, but you catch yourself. And you take a deep breath, and you mentally take off that part of you that wants to fight, and you put on the new self. And that happens in a split second! And it’s not a mind game; it’s a step of dependence and opening yourself to the power of God. And suddenly you feel compassion toward her. You begin to feel what her day must have been like. And even though it’s true that you deserve to be treated better, you give up that right…and you choose instead to focus on her pain. So instead of your heart hardening toward her, you feel your heart softening toward her. And when you feel yourself responding that way, it’s so surprising—it’s so not you!—that your faith grows bigger and you feel empowered. So you give her a quick kiss on the cheek, and you run down to take care of the kids. And guess what? When you respond that way, your wife’s heart is softened toward you. So because of your decision to take God at his word, and put on the new self, peace has just come flooding into your home. Clothe yourself with compassion

And, with kindness. Those little acts of service that seem so insignificant, but they can change the atmosphere of an entire day. During the lockdown I’ve been doing most of my work in my backyard shed. It’s pretty nice out there. And quiet. So on Thursday, I was finishing up this sermon out in my shed. And Norma Jean stopped in for a minute, and we had a little argument about the fire pit that I’m supposed to make in our backyard, but I’ve been putting it off for a while. So our conversation ended like this: she said, “Why don’t you just pour some concrete to get it started?” And I said, “Why don’t you just pour some concrete?” Ah, marital bliss. So about 3 minutes later, she texted my from the house. The text said, “Can I bring you some coffee?” And just like that, what could have been tension was replaced by peace. Clothe yourself with kindness.

And with humility. Humility is the polar opposite of pride. So when you’re clothed with pride, you get offended really easily. You take everything personally. You can’t let anything go. But when you put on the new self, your focus just moves off of yourself. I still love the old saying: “Humility doesn’t mean you think less of yourself; it just means you think of yourself less.” So you stop keeping a record of wrongs. Or a record of rights. You stop saying things like, “I emptied the dishwasher yesterday; it’s your turn today!” It frees you from the prison of yourself, and it’s a glorious freedom. The more humble you are, the more shalom there will be in your home. So clothe yourself with humility.

And with gentleness. My favorite Proverb is Proverbs 15:1…A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Think about how much power that gives you: when someone else is acting in a wrathful, angry way, you have the power to either throw gas on that fire—make it worse…or to sprinkle water on that fire. Right? Depending on how you respond. And when you have put on the new self, you get your ego out of the way, you start feeling compassion for the other person, and you speak words of gentleness. “Baby, I’m so sorry you’ve had a hard day. I want to hear about it later, but I’m going to go take care of the kids now.” And just like that, some of her anger flows out, and peace flows in. Clothe yourself with gentleness.

And finally, clothe yourself with patience. Through this lockdown, we are all getting a massive lesson in patience, aren’t we? Just like a potter molds and shapes clay, God is using this to mold and shape us into people of endurance and perseverance. And one of his strategies to do that is to send us to our room with other people, and lock us down for a while. Just like my dad did: “You guys go work it out. You’ll either kill each other, or you’ll learn to be patient with each other.” Thanks dad!

So verse 13 says, “Bear with each other.” So when that person in your home does something that’s so annoying—like, he said he’d put out the recycling last night, and now you hear the recycling truck coming, and you look out the window, and there are no recycling cans in front of your house. Seriously? But before you react, you put on the new self, and you feel that short fuse getting longer. You start realizing how annoying you can be sometimes. One of the guys in my group said, “Here’s what ‘bearing with’ people means: it means putting up with someone’s stuff, while they put up with yours.” Well said. So clothe yourself with patience.

And by the way, sometimes when you’re sharing a home, there are offenses that are too much to just let them slide. They really do cross the line. And when that happens, it says forgive them—just as the Lord forgave you. Talk about it; bring it to the person’s attention; but at the end of the day, forgive—let it go. Because if you hold on to it—it will hurt you more than it hurts them.

Think about this: you have the ability to significantly bring peace into your home. Some of you are thinking, “But I’m not the problem in my home! It’s him! It’s her!” Okay. We are all very imperfect people, and maybe you’re sharing a home with some flagrant peace-breakers. But the only person you’re responsible for is you. So: set your mind on Christ—remind yourself every day, that’s who you are. Then, rid yourself of those angry tendencies—whether you’re a shouter or a sulker—you have the power to take that off. And clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And you will be a powerful force for peace in your home. And when you get a taste of that peace, you’re just going to want more.

Someday in the future—maybe after a few weeks; maybe after a few months—this lockdown is going to end. And when it does, some people will go on with life no different than before. But not you. You’re going to be a person with much better relationships…because you’ve learned to be a peacemaker.

Series Information

The death and suffering caused by COVID-19 are tragic, but failing to learn from it would be tragic as well. Rather than just tolerating the lockdown, what if we walked through it expectantly? What if we could hear things from God that we wouldn’t hear at any other time? And what if we emerged from this crisis not just thankful that it’s over, but permanently changed for the better?