There are some verses in the Bible that many Christians read through much quicker than they should. They don’t take the time to absorb them and meditate on them because the message seems so simple and because they “already know it.” Today’s verse is one of those verses:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12 NIV).
We, myself included, are often tempted to read through this verse so quickly because it’s so fundamental, and there’s no “deep theology” here to wrestle with. But it’s important to take time to meditate on verses like these, not because they are difficult to understand, but because they are easy to understand, but difficult to actually live out. If more Christians really obeyed this verse, there would be a lot less fighting in our churches.
This verse tells us how God’s “chosen people,” who are “holy and dearly loved,” ought to behave. We are to be “clothed” with the following virtues, that is to say, completely wrapped up in them. Any Christian who is not “clothed in these virtues is naked, so to speak, allowing the horrible vices of the flesh to be visible to everyone. Let us look briefly at each of these virtues:
Compassion. To me, compassion is feeling things from someone else’s point of view, especially when they are going through a hard time. In some ways, compassion is the opposite of hate. When someone hurts me I am tempted to hate them for it, but as a Christian I should probably try to figure out why they tried to hurt me, and feel sorry for them instead. This will help me forgive them the way Jesus forgave me for hurting Him.
Kindness. Kindness is simply making some small, often inconsequential yet thoughtful sacrifice to make someone feel better. When I say “inconsequential,” I mean inconsequential to the person making the sacrifice, to the person receiving it, it may be very important. We need to care enough to make that small effort to let others know they are loved.
Humility. This one is a big stumbling block for a lot of us. It simply means that we need to force ourselves to recognize that we aren’t always right or better than others. In fact, Scripture teaches us to treat others as more important then ourselves (Phillippians 2:3-4). This is a very important virtue for all Christians to have. YOUR CHRISTIAN WALK WILL IMPLODE IF YOU ARE LACKING IN THIS VIRTUE, EVEN A LITTLE. This virtue is so important that you should probably request this of God every day in your prayers, and constantly be confessing your pride as well.
Gentleness. We need to treat others Gently, not with harshness, especially when they are harsh towards us. Again, this flows out of the impulse of love that we are to have towards all others, believers and unbelievers alike.
Patience. This is something we all need more of. We need to be gracious enough to others to give them time to work through things. We should not be the kind of people who insist that others come to see our viewpoint on our schedule. Jesus had patience with us; some have rebelled against Him for decades before repenting of their sins. Likewise, we need to be patient with those around us, especially when we have a different point of view than they do. Some Christians always insist that they are right, and will not even talk to you until you are ready to admit that you are wrong on every point. This is wrong. We need to be open to discussing our disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ, many, many, times if necessary.