Always Wear a Belt
Some wardrobe advice: “Regardless of the bottoms that you are wearing, you should always wear a belt when your shirt or top is tucked in. Wearing jackets and blazers – as you’ll probably have your shirt tucked in, you’re going to want to wear a belt when wearing jackets.”
A belt it seems, is as important as the undergarments. Remember when it comes to the undergarments and clothing we wear, Paul calls us to build these virtues into our spiritual wardrobe so that they become part of who we are. In Oriental countries the belt 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. The last article that is the belt or girdle, is the most important then.
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.
- Just like a belt can complete an outfit, 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. Paul refers to love as the “the most excellent way” in 1 Cor 12:31 and then immediately afterwards says:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-3)
- There is also a sense that a belt makes an outfit. In the body of Christ a sense of unity comes when we all act in love, as Philippians 2:1-4, we are to be “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 (as the song says): “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.”
1) makes the exercise of the virtues perfect and
2) 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.
Finally John also emphasises love by reminding us that people can see God when they see our love in action:
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
- Can you think of examples in life where compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience have been practiced without the underlying motivation being love for the person it is directed to? Often these virtues are practiced to be well thought of or admired, what do you think of people like that and how does Jesus feel about them?
- Who do you need to forgive so that you can love them more effectively? Who needs to know that you forgive them, so that they know they are loved by you?
- In the body of Christ we partner with other believers to minister and care for the people in our community and members of the body of Christ. But each person in the body of Christ is different and this diversity often makes it hard to maintain relationships in the body of Christ. How does love overcome this diversity in the body of Christ? (Rev 7:9; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12:14-22; 1 Cor 12:4-7; 1 Peter 4:10-11)
- A value to live by: To seek another persons good. 1 Cor 10:24 is the best translation of love in action. It is not just a powerful feeling, but an outward-focused-action-based attitude that is about being committed to them and their good, sacrificing one’s own preferences and desire. Have you done something good for someone lately, or have you become weary of doing good? (Gal 6:8-10; Titus 3:7-8)
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
Next: An All Purpose Cover All
Previous: Invest in Good Undergarments
Be Rich in Good Deeds
Catch Them and Divide Them
Divide and Conquer
The Declared Purpose of God’s Love
Love On the People You Love