Written and preached by David P. Nolte


The coat aunt Caroline sent was so warm that little 8 year old Joseph snuggled down into it with gratitude. His thin little legs seemed to lose themselves upward and his happy face, sitting atop a thin little neck lost itself downward in the huge coat. It would be just right for this exceptionally cold winter. As he walked to school, his mother thought, "Nobody will look at his back, they'll just think about how warm that little boy is in his new coat." But as Joseph came to a fork in the road, somebody did look at his back. Philip, the minister's son, and his friends fell in behind Joseph. They were all wearing new coats too, but theirs fit neatly and had fluffy collars going up around their ears. Seeing the back of Joseph's new coat the older boys began laughing and shouting, "Look at Joseph's coat! Joseph's coat of many colors!" When Joseph got to school he, too, looked at the back of his coat. He noticed a long straight seam in the middle and on either side of the seam the material was horribly faded into two distinct colors. The leap came out of his thin little legs and the joy left his little heart. What has this story to do with walking in love? Philip, the minister's son and his friends remind us of one key element.
    1. Here's how Paul stated that truth:
      1. "Love does not act unbecomingly." It is not ugly or rude or thoughtless.
      2. "Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness." It does not delight in mischief or evil works or cruelty.
      3. In Romans 13:10 he said, "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law."
    2. So, would you walk in love? Refrain conscientiously from doing wrong to others. Don't wrong them
      1. Physically by abuse or assault or even neglect of their physical needs.
      2. Mentally by treating them with contempt and making them feel stupid and useless by insults and ridicule and taunts.
      3. Emotionally by failing to encourage and uplift and by withholding friendship and love and succor.
      4. Spiritually by failing to teach them Biblical truth and by hindering their walk by our bad or inconsistent example.
    3. Jesus Christ is our prime example here; He went about doing good, and never doing wrong, to others
      1. His miracles were beneficial, healing, redemptive and always for the good of others.
      2. His heart was kind to those who failed Him:
        1. Even Judas who betrayed Him with a kiss, Jesus called, "Friend."
        2. To the disciples who slept while Jesus agonized in Gethsemane, Jesus spoke kindly and understandingly.
      3. His teachings all point to the good life and right relationships and closeness to God.
      4. He prayed for God to forgive His malefactors as He hung on the cross.
      5. His approach is described by Matthew in these words: "A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out, till He leads justice to victory. In His name the nations will put their hope." Matthew 12:20-21 (NIV).
    4. His love does no wrong to others; if we walk in love, neither will we do no wrong to others.
Philip and his friends fell short in that respect. They taunted Joseph about his discolored coat. The next day, Joseph waited to pass the fork in the road until the other boys had gone by. Then he decided that if he just stayed in the room during recess and noon breaks, he wouldn't have to put his coat on and nobody would laugh at him. He watched wistfully out the window as the other kids were playing in the snow. The next day, to his horror, he noticed Philip wearing the discolored coat on the playground and all the kids were giggling as he cavorted around. The next day, Joseph turned the coat inside out to hide the discoloration. His mother had lined it with black wooly material all of one shade.. That made things worse! When the older boys saw it they taunted, "Look at it! Look at it! Inside out! He's wearing his coat inside out!" In desperation, Joseph decided that he would leave home wearing the coat, and then on the way to school he'd ditch it behind a rock wall before he got to the fork in the road. He walked the rest of the way to school shivering in the cold - but at least no one taunted him about his coat of many colors. A few days later when roll was called, Joseph did not answer. One of the children told the teacher that Joseph was home sick with pneumonia. For several nights, he lay in bed incoherently muttering, "Joseph's coat. Joseph's coat of many colors. Don't tell mother. Don't tell her they laughed." Those words came to the ears of Philip, the minister's son. Understanding what had happened, he hurried with a heavy and sorry heart to the gate at Joseph's yard to be near, and to pray for, that shivering, sick little boy. When we walk in love, our hearts become burdened with the burdens of others.
    1. Paul said,
      1. "Love is kind." It is considerate and compassionate.
      2. "Love does not seek its own." It is not self absorbed or self-centered.
      3. To the Colossians he wrote, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:12-13 (NIV)
      4. To the Thessalonians he wrote, "And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (NIV).
    2. Those who walk in love will not be unmoved by the predicament of others.
      1. It will never be, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
      2. It will never be, "You made your bed, now lie in it!"
      3. It will never be "That's your problem, not mine!"
      4. It will never be, "Better you than me!"
      5. It will never be, "So what? Big deal!"
    3. Jesus Christ always had a heart of sympathy for others.
      1. He cared about the lame and blind and leprous.
      2. He cared for the poor and hungry and deprived.
      3. He cared about the oppressed and downtrodden and castaway.
      4. He wept with the grieving and heartbroken.
      5. We read, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV).
    4. Do you feel with others in their pain? Do you care about others in their cares?
Philip began to have sympathy for that little boy he had mercilessly ridiculed. As he hovered near Joseph's gate, he saw someone leaving the house and recognized his own father. He ran to his father, weeping. "I've killed him! I've done it! I've killed Joseph!" His father asked him to explain and he told him the horrible story about Joseph's coat. His father asked, "Did you think Joseph died, Philip? He came near death, but the crisis is past. He will live." Philip knew he needed discipline, and said, "Father, may I punish myself this time? Please let me do it! Let me try anyhow!" He explained his method and the father approved. When Joseph returned to school, he wore a fine new coat with a fur collar. And for the rest of the winter, Philip showed up wearing a discolored coat with a black wooly lining. He had learned to walk in love.
    1. Paul said,
      1. "Love is kind." That is it is benevolent, generous and magnanimous.
      2. "Love is not jealous." It is not afraid someone will get something it has; it does not hoard possessions for self.
      3. "Love never fails." It doesn't fall short of any demand, it doesn't fail in face of need.
      4. To the Galatians he wrote, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10 (NIV).
      5. To the preacher, Timothy, he wrote concerning the rich of this world, "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." 1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV).
    2. Jesus, the greatest lover and the greatest giver, said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35.
    3. Jesus Christ taught us how to give by giving Himself:
      1. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV).
      2. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16 (NIV).
    4. You can bank on this: You will never have less than enough when you give out of love.
There are two aspects to walking in love: First, Walk in love toward others. Be kind, forgiving, generous, helpful. Seek reconciliation; seek the good of the other person; love as Christ loved. Second, Walk in His love. Jesus said, "Abide in My love." Nobody ever loved you like Jesus does. He knows you inside out, and amazingly, still loves you. He loves you as you are, and sees what His love can help you become. He loves you in your weakness, and wants to make you strong; He loves you in your failure, and wants to help you succeed; He loves you in your sin, and wants to make you sinless. His is a love that seeks, that saves, that redeems, that restores and that embraces. And you can walk in that love as you walk with Jesus who stands ready today just to love you. He loved you to death on the cross and wants to love you to life. If that isn't love, nothing else is. Experience that love as you commit your life to Him. :Come to Jesus this morning, and begin the wonderful experience of walking in His love.

Story from "Great Stories Remembered" compiled and edited by Joe Wheeler, published by Focus On The Family.

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