What do you wear close to your person?

I love this metaphor that Paul uses to describe the development of the Christian life.  Garments usually denote character, and the word ‘habit’ came to mean both our dress and our manner of living.  We have already spoken about disrobing old habits and dispositions, our old clothes.  Now as we are stripped off our old selves (Col 3:8-9) we are looking at what to start wearing.  Last time we discussed a category of spiritual clothing that builds relationships and today we will look more closely at these “undergarments” that Paul suggests we put on.

Undergarments are items of clothing worn beneath outer clothes, usually in direct contact with the skin, although they may comprise more than a single layer.  They are appropriately put on a clean body, which we are now, in Christ.  But we have to consciously put these new undergarments onto our bodies, so that they become part of our person, our character, our habit, our way of life.  They have to habitually become part of who we are.

What are the undergarments: attitudes we draw so close to us, that they become a part of us?

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12)

  1. Compassion:  What does compassion mean?  It is a response to God and others which is filled with love and concern, as opposed to selfishness.  Dictionaries define it as a deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.  It is a verb which implies action taken as opposed to pity (a noun) which is a strong feeling of sympathy for someone or something. Perhaps we can understand compassion, by looking at what it is not: coldheartedness; heartlessness; hardheartedness; indifference; insensitivity; unconcern; dislike; hostility and harshness.

  2. Kindness is about how we treat others, it is caring about others around you: wanting the best for them.    It depicts people who are gentle, mild-mannered, benevolent, compassionate, considerate, sympathetic, humane.  It is a word typically applied to the inter-human relationships conveying the idea of being adaptable to others and their needs.  It is typically not deserving. But notice the opposite of kindness is self-centerdness: being self-focused, self-aware, self-orientated, self-serving, where our primary focus and concern is self-wants and needs.

  3. Humility: A trait that is valued by God (James 4:6). This would refer to an attitude of the heart and mind in dealing with God and others, a sincere disposition rather than an affected show.  It esteems others better than themselves and is sure to ascribe all they have, and are, to the grace and goodness of God.  Humility works without ostentation and boasting, remembering that when they have done all they can, they are but servants of the Almighty God. The opposite is pride, self-service, manipulation, arrogance.

  4. Gentleness:  A response that speaks of not being overly impressed with one’s own importance, like Jesus who was described as gentle and mild.  It is a reigning in of one’s own power to affect your will, into a polite, restrained behavior toward others.  It receives others with open heart and pleasant countenance.  Gentle in speech and action, tender, or mild-mannered. The opposite is retaliation, revenge, gossip, returning insult, malice, offense etc.

  5. Patience: Also translated as long-suffering, it speaks to how we respond to the affronts and outrages produced in our lives by the behavior of others, whereby a person patiently bears the evil words and actions of others, and is not easily provoked to wrath by them, but puts up with injuries, and sits down contented with his life, even when others have “used” him.  It forgives the wrong of others as we have been forgiven. Col 3:13, the very next verse: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Be like Jesus to Others

Notice how every single one of the above:

  1. Is a characteristic of Jesus, demonstrated while He was on earth.
  2. Relates to how we respond and interact with other people.
  3. These are attitudes to clothe ourselves with, that are beneficial for the development and growth of relationships. They do not come naturally, there has to be an “on purpose” decision to put these clothes on.  Sometimes, we don’t even have to get out of bed before we already need to put some of these clothes on.
  4. Is developed in us, out of a love relationship with Jesus because notice the opening phrase of Col 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” We are loved!

Have you experienced the love of God? Has the love of God been poured out into your life? These attributes which we are to clothe ourselves with are really meant to be an outworking of that which He has already poured into our life. We love, the Bible says, because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). We are simply meant to be passing on to others that which we already have in relationship.

Best we get dressed!

Reflection Questions:

  1. There has been a lot of talk on social media about living with a personal value system as “these values set the tone for decisions we make, the people we have in our lives, what purpose we decide to partake in, and how we treat people, to name a few.”  Do you have a value system that you live according to?  Often our value systems include worldly values.  Would the values described here be a part of your value system?
  2. Do a study on each of these attitudes to ensure that you fully understand what that  relationship attitude looks like and how it can be implemented in your life.  The additional reading below are blog posts that cover each of these attitudes.  Identify which attitudes need specific work in your life.
  3. It has been a trend to perform one random act of kindness per day to make the world a better place.  But I would like to challenge you to consider applying one of these attitudes in a relationship every day for a month.  Keep track in a notebook what you did, how you felt and the response of the person.

Father, thank you for Your love for me, that Jesus sacrificed His life so that I can love You in return.  Thank you, Jesus, for showing me the way of love, so that I can embrace it into my own life.  Help me each day to dress myself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience and to do this before I get up in the morning.  I confess that these attitudes are part of who I am, my “habit” that I present to people in relationships that I cultivate and grow in my life. 

Next: Bind It Together with Love

Previous:Relationship Building Clothing

Additional Reading:

Everyone Needs Compassion

Kindness Is Not Deserved

Nobody Act Big

Let Your Gentleness Be Evident

To Love Like That