Here at Heart Treasure we have been having a spiritual wardrobe makeover and this is the last in the series. We have looked at what attitudes to take out of our wardrobe, but more specifically what new clothing, like relationship building clothing to build into our wardrobes. We have specifically looked at what we call “undergarments” (closest to our skin and therefore part of our character) of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12)
Paul calls us to build these virtues into our spiritual wardrobe so that they become part of who we are. The last article we will look at is the belt or girdle, which in Oriental countries was used to bind the undergarments compactly around a person, before putting on your travel coat. This belt enabled one to work and move without the garments shifting out of place.
In our spiritual wardrobe, the belt described is love: compacting all our “relationship building virtues” into us so that we can be a blessing to others.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col 3:14)
The Message calls love an “all-purpose garment” and that we are to “never be without it.” (Col 3:14 MSG). It should be with us all the time, worn everyday as part of our person. It is the most important moral quality in the believer’s spiritual wardrobe.
- Paul says that this binding of love around us, brings all the virtues together in a bond of perfection and we cut a perfect figure. It is important to remember that where the belt of love is not present, all the other virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, are searched after in vain. Love is to bind everything about us together: all our actions, thoughts, words and behavior has to be regulated according to love. All of these virtues without love, will eventually reveal their fault, even if they look attractive from the outside in the beginning. Anything we attempt to do outside of love is a waste of time and is in vain.
- There is a sense of unity when we all act in love, as Philippians seems to echo with the same message in Phil 2:1-4, we are “like-minded with the same love.”
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2:1-4)
A reminder that: “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” Love makes the exercise of the virtues perfect and perfects unity in the body of Christ. Unity cannot exist outside of love no matter how different we are, no matter what our background is, what life experiences we’ve gone through, where we come from, the colour of our skin or how much money or success we have, there is only one thing that can unite us all and that is love.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
Here Peter links love and forgiveness closely together, like Jesus himself, who has covered a multitude of our sins. This also rings back to the verse just before in Col 3:14, namely verse 13
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Love and forgiveness go hand in hand, because this is in essence what the heart of God is like. Remember how Jesus continually forgave those who treated Him poorly, especially the people who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). He also instructed us to love our enemies and pray for them (Luke 6:27, 35). We definitely see God’s forgiving love for Israel throughout the Old Testament.
One cannot hate a person and forgive them at the same time. When we forgive, the hate goes away so you can more clearly seek that person’s good, their spiritual, emotional and physical good and move into an attitude of love and healing in relationships.
“For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Galatians 5:14)
At the end of the day we all seek to be loved. We seek to be able to love others and to be loved for ourselves. We can see this when we look around at the world around us, looking at what motivates people and the activities they pursue.
The underlying need that everyone is actually trying to fulfill, is the need for love.
Lord help me to pursue love as a characteristic in my life that completes everything about me. Let it be a virtue that describes who I am because I know that then: I will more effectively reflect who You are. Thank you that You showed me what love is like, a love that covers and forgives all sin. Help me to be more willing to cover and forgive other people, myself and people I come across in the world. Help me to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with people because I am motivated to love them, like You have been compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with me because You love me. Amen