“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so must you do also. In addition to all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:12-14 NASB).
Paul outlined for the Colossians what it meant to be a follower of the Lord. What do you notice about his list? Everything pertains to how we treat one another: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love. For Paul, the evidence of our relationship with God depends upon how we treat others.
Paul recognized that the believing community lived in front of a watching world. How could they call their polytheistic family members and neighbors to reject their upbringing, turn to the one true God, and follow Him if their own lifestyles and patterns of behavior did not differ from the world around them?
The practice of prayer, devotion, worship, singing, Bible study has little value if we do not live with a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love in front of a watching world.
It’s not about looking different with a list of “do-nots,” but rather—in a world fractured, unkind, arrogant, and unloving—to demonstrate the opposite. A person walking out their life with love and compassion is a faith that cannot be ignored nor denied. We often underestimate the importance our actions play in communicating our faith in God.
Think for a moment. How would these behaviors that Paul outlined to the Colossians look in our fractured world today? Our world talks about justice and love, yet you cannot have justice without mercy, nor can you have love without forgiveness. Clothe yourselves with love.
In these verses, Paul used action verbs to describe the expected behaviors of the Colossians. Twice he says, “clothe yourself.” He tells them to “bear with one another” and “forgive.” He expected them to act in this manner. When you get dressed in the morning, you naturally select your clothes and put them on.
So, too, Paul expected the Colossians to choose these essential behaviors, including love. He did not tell them to pray until they were empowered to do so. Rather, do it. Choose to do it. Love. Be kind and compassionate. Be humble and gentle. Forgive as we have been forgiven.
How differently would our lives look if, every morning, we chose to exhibit the behaviors Paul outlined for the Colossians? How would that impact those around us? We too live in front of a watching world. How will we choose to live?
Father, may our actions toward others today demonstrate our faith and love in You. May our lives testify to Your truth. Amen.