Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. – Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]
I’ve always been somewhat self-conscious about my clothing. Often you wouldn’t know it for various reasons – not least of which I’m pretty comfortable wearing shorts and an untucked shirt most of the time I’m not doing more official pastoral stuff. And I do try to present myself appropriately dressed as often as possible. But I do care, and will lay aside certain clothes if I don’t think I look good in them. I see many people these days, however, who don’t seem to care a nit about their appearance. Oversized and grungy shorts, torn and sweaty tee-shirts, inappropriately revealing tops, and do-you-really-think-that-looks-good-on-you leggings.
Just for the record, I’m not thinking now of people I actually know. And you don’t have to dress up or down for me. My point is that I might be more concerned about my appearance than some others. Then again, maybe they care who seem not to care.
We are called here to “put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Those are accoutrements that we who have been baptized are to wear – no matter what kinds of clothing we might sport. They are not bought in a store. They are not the raiment of only the fashionistas. They are available to all. And they always wear well. Always.
Think of it: you are dealing with a frustrated customer: A compassionate heart will likely serve you well as you seek to help him. Or you need to bring a failure to the attention of your daughter: Kindness and humility on your part will make the conversation go better. Someone is moving way to slowly in helping you at the checkout stand: Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a must unless you want to irritate the clerk and ruffle your own feathers in the process. You might think that meekness is a weakness. But if truth is on your side, meekness can be a powerful witness to faith.
But they can hang neglected on the rack, and ignored as we face the challenges of each day. We forget, ignore, or despise them too easily. This is not our calling as Jesus followers. Difficult as it may be, these are to be the intentional choices of we who have been touched by Jesus’ love. It takes effort, mindfulness, purposefulness, and self-discipline to wear these attributes. And that happens only when we renew our minds and hearts daily (hourly???) by the power of the Holy Spirit. Remembering Jesus’ love and his patience and kindness is essential. Renewing our inner new nature is vital. Seeking his forgiveness when we fail is essential. From that perspective we will be best able to add the layer of love that makes all these things look truly beautiful.