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
God loves us. There is no doubt about that. But what does it mean to be loved by God? A loving relationship is a two-way conversation. So what are we charged to do in our loving relationship with God if love is in fact a dynamic conversation? And where do we begin? The verse in Colossians speaks strongly to these questions. We, as God’s chosen and whom He dearly loves, are instructed to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Clothe ourselves in these abstract words?
Do you have a favorite T-shirt? A pair of shoes? How about sweatpants? Come on! I know that everyone has a half-torn article of clothing somewhere in their wardrobe. The softness and comfort cannot be replicated. And the accompanying memories can’t either. I have a blue T-shirt that I inherited from my mom when I was in middle school. It is a sleep shirt but it means so much more to me than that. My dad was a musician professionally when I was growing up. He would take frequent trips to Nashville, TN from our home base in Chicago, IL to write and record. He and his band would work at Studio 19 just off from the famous Music Row. But every time that my dad would come home from this trip, he’d bring us a present. One time it was Studio 19 T-shirts. Mine was orange and mom’s was blue. I wore my orange Studio 19 T-shirt for years to bed until the threads became so bear that we had to get rid of it. It was incredibly soft and became a comfort to feel it against my skin. The day that we threw away my orange shirt, my mom gave me her blue one. Of course, I had to “break it in” for myself but I still have it. On the outside it represents Studio 19. But in reality it represents a time in my life. It represents my mom and dad. It represents feelings that cannont be seen.
Because we are God’s chosen we represent Him. Just like the old blue T-shirt. Like an article of clothing we are to wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience for they are the logos on our Christian uniform. I caution you to jump right along with that for this reason: we can remove clothing. So why would the image of clothing be used if we can just “take off” these virtues? Well, the last verse of Colossians speaks to that. For it says,”And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Love is a feeling which comes from deep inside of us. Sure we can show or express love through words and actions but love can’t be removed like clothing in an instant. In the image of the clothing, love is the thread. And love is at the heart of the virtues: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. You can not authentically demonstrate or have these virtues without love. God is telling us that because He loves us; we are expected to love others. God made us in His image and think about it. By loving those around us we are in turn showing our love for God.