“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 one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
Life. It certainly has a way of testing you. With family, work, relationships, circumstances and situations – we have to be careful not to lose sight of who we are and whose we are. More importantly, we don’t want to lose sight of our responsibility as Christians and what being a Christian should look like. I had an assignment the other day in class that required me to do a sermon on Colossians 3:12-14. We had a number of scriptures to choose from, but my reason for choosing this particular scripture was that it was a good text to smoothly transition into from my last sermon. During the week of my study on that text I was tested; and I should have known it would happen. That’s how God is. He will have you walk out your talk. He wants us to be doers of the word and not just hearers. Otherwise we will just be deceiving ourselves to think that we can hear the word only and be transformed (James 1:22). Anywho… At the start of verse 12, Paul is clear that God’s chosen are holy and dearly loved. What does it mean to be holy? Well when I looked up the word holy I pulled out some synonyms and found that the word holy also means spiritual, righteous, humble, pure and divine. It can also mean God fearing, faultless, sanctified, spotless, unworldly and incorrupt; to name a few. On top of being holy, Paul says you are dearly loved. So I looked up the word dearly as well and found that to mean that one is extremely, profoundly or to a great extent loved. I believe this is a cause for praise because Paul was talking to Christians. So that means we are not only his chosen, but that we are also pure and spotless. Talk about calling things that be not as though they were! Many times we have found ourselves in situations and circumstances where we are anything but holy and lovable. Thank God for compassion and grace, because even though we are human and have to deal with our flesh, he still sees us as his spotless and pure bride.
Now since we are God’s chosen, holy and dearly loved, Paul says we should do 4 things:
- Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindess, humility, gentleness, and patience.
- Bear with each other. In other words, endure with each other and forgive any grievances we may have against one another.
- Forgive as the Lord forgave us.
- Over all other virtues, put on love.
Why does Paul say to put on love above everything else? Because it binds all of the virtues together in perfect unity. Well what does that mean? It means that if you are walking in love, true unconditional love; that God kind of love, then compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience should occur naturally. The God kind of love won’t let you hold a grudge, be mean or prideful or impatient and if you do find yourself acting that way, it won’t be natural for you. You’ll easily hear the Holy Spirit gently correct your actions. You’ll be conscious of your actions when they are not aligned with God’s will. How do I know this? From example, of course. That week when I was studying the text for my sermon, I had an issue with my mobile service provider, so like anyone in their right mind would do, I called customer service. Well, the person who answered just didn’t seem happy to be on the phone with me. Her voice was monotone and totally un-phased by the fact that I was a customer looking for assistance. Before I knew it, my patience had run out and frustration had set in. I said, “you know what, I don’t think you really want to help me so I’ll just call back to speak to someone who can help me. Thanks anyway. Goodbye.” Click. Immediately when I got off the phone, I felt that check in my spirit. Was that a kind thing to do? So I reasoned with myself. I thought I’d handled it correctly since I said bye before hanging up. But did you give her a chance to speak? Did you give her a chance to also conclude the call on her end? My response was a petulant “no.” Could I have handled that better? Absolutely. Was I following the four points listed above? No! Is that acceptable as one of God’s chosen? Absolutely not! Is God going to throw me away because of my actions? Of course not. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that he holds us to a higher standard and calling; therefore we must consciously put on love daily before we leave home just like we do our clothes. It seems outrageous that any one of us would leave home undressed, right? I often think that’s the perspective we must have with love. With all of that being said, let’s be mindful of who we are and how we treat others. Let’s be sure to be conscious of the fact that God is always with us and that He’s watching us. Let’s be aware that we are to be clothed in virtues that help us to be just like our Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know what people are going through in their day-to-day lives, so let’s bear with one another and cover each other. Does that mean we have to keep people in our lives that we know shouldn’t be there? Not at all. I don’t want to give you the idea that we have to allow the wrong things and people to enter or stay in our lives to demonstrate love. Nor should we enable bad behavior. Jesus loved the people even though he had to kick them out of the temple for turning it into a marketplace (Mk 11:15-18). Please know that this is not something that I’m simply telling you to practice. I, too, have to be mindful each and every day and I’ll be the first to say it’s not always easy. Especially when you may have to deal with difficult people or are dealing with challenging times in your own life that may cause you to be difficult. So I pray that this message has reached you and that you are always clothed with love as God’s chosen, holy and dearly loved bride.