12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
If you want to know how to live, it’s all right here.
Our goal isn’t merely to have correct theology, although correct theology is important. Our goal is to be loving. Twice in these three verses Paul tells us to “put on” something, as you would “put on” clothing. One of these is love.
There’s a song from the stage musical Bye Bye Birdie entitled, “Put On a Happy Face.” I wonder if we who are Christ followers, instead of putting on love, are putting on our happy faces, thinly veiling the insecurity, heartache and emptiness we feel inside.
Brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be! We are “God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved.” If we could truly grasp this, we would stop the excessive contemplation about ourselves and look at others with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.” True self-esteem comes from an abiding understanding that God knows us and loves us.
Too often, we Christians have been accused of being the most arrogant, egotistical and indifferent people. May God have mercy! There is no place for bullying, insensitivity or self-absorption in the life of a Christian. Put on love!
Despite having all the right theology, pedigree and church attendance awards, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1 that if we lack love, we are like “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
With a contemplative mindset, David asks in Psalm 116:12, “How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me?” Admittedly this is a debt we can never repay. Nevertheless, the natural overflow of a grateful heart that is known and loved by God is love.
Above all else, we are to be loving…not with our own strength, but out of the heart of a dearly loved, chosen, holy child of God who has been transformed by His love.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- We think of Paul as being perhaps the world’s greatest missionary: fearless, relentless and brilliant. But in Acts 18:5‑10, Paul encountered intense opposition from some Jewish leaders which apparently shook him to his core. Paul became so disheartened and exasperated that he said he would no longer bring the gospel to the Jews. Soon, we read about a man named Titius Justus, who invited a downcast Paul into his home to love and encourage him. While he was there, Paul would hear the voice of God tell him to not give up telling the Jews about Jesus. As a result, many Jews came to know the Lord and Paul would eventually write in Romans 9:1-4 that he would gladly exchange his own salvation for any Jew to be saved! Perhaps we need to be a Titius Justus to a discouraged brother or sister, to love them and lift them up so they can hear the voice of God again. Whom could you love and encourage today?
- May I encourage you to read the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, every day for a week? God may use this time to bring new insight and conviction about love. For me, it’s been verse five, “[Love] does not dishonor others.” What is God revealing to you?
- Paul says in verse 14 that “love…is the perfect bond of unity.” According to Jesus, Christian unity is part of His strategy for world evangelism. Jesus prayed in John 17:23, “I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.” Oh, how we must love Jesus and love each other! Is there a rift between you and someone that you can mend today?
Set out two sets of oversized clothing items (such as socks, boots, pants, flannel shirt, jacket, hat, etc.) Try to make both sets as similar as possible.
Hold a race between two family members to see who can put on (including buttoning, zipping, etc.) all of the clothing items the fastest.
When they finish, note that to put something on requires purpose. Illustrate this by guiding a family member to stand in front of you with outstretched arms. Toss a shirt at him or her. Of course, it will fall to the ground. The person must make an effort to put on the clothing item—it won’t just accidentally happen.
Read aloud Colossians 3:12-14, asking family members to listen for the things Paul tells Christians to “put on.” Write down the words in his list, explaining that to “put on” each of these things requires effort—it won’t happen accidentally. You aren’t going to accidentally put on love or kindness any more than you’re going to accidentally put on a shirt. (Toss the shirt at a family member one more time for emphasis.)
Discuss what effort might be needed on our part to put on these character qualities. Remind your family, however, that putting in effort doesn’t mean that we can just try harder and we’ll become more compassionate or patient. The Holy Spirit works in us to change us, but it’s our job to allow Him to work in us by practicing spiritual disciplines, like reading our Bible, worship, and prayer.
Pray for the lost without Christ in the Americas today. 550 million people in the Americas live without the eternal hope Christ brings and are spiritually dead. Pray for gospel efforts, healthy churches, people to go and tell, and open hearts to receive.