Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
Specifically, we look at the opening phrase, “put on then.” Because as Christians we are being made into the image of our Creator, and because Jesus Christ is our live, we should want to live lives that honor God. These instructions given by the Apostle Paul, things to “put on,” are things to help us live in this way.
Today, we’ll take a brief look at each of the things that we are to “put on”:
* Compassionate hearts – A compassionate heart is one that has care and concern for others and is sensitive to their needs. This is, obviously, a characteristic demonstrated by Jesus:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. – Matthew 9:35-36 (ESV)
* Kindness – In Galatians 5:22, we are told that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. But what is kindness? The dictionary says this, “indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane.” Now, certainly, God doesn’t simply indulge our sin. No, sin is accounted for either by eternal punishment in hell, or by Jesus atoning for the sin on the cross. But we do see that God is kind, or considerate, to us, despite the fact that we are sinners. For example, Romans 2:4 reminds us that God’s kindness leads us to repentance:
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – Romans 2:4 (ESV)
* Humility – Showing humility, or as the dictionary says, being “low in rank, importance, status, quality,” is a quality also exhibited by Jesus Christ. We see this best described in Philippians 2:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)
* Meekness – No, this doesn’t mean being a doormat. The dictionary says this about being meek: “humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.” Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that meekness is also a characteristic of Jesus:
“I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!” – 2 Corinthians 10:1 (ESV)
* Patience – And, finally, Paul reminds us of patience, which is also a fruit of the Spirit as detailed in Galatians 5:22. As we shall see, Lord willing in the next verse, patience is the act of “bearing with one another” (v. 13).
As we can plainly see, these things we are to “put on” – compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience – were characteristics demonstrated by Jesus Christ. These aren’t pie-in-the-sky things a person could never hope to attain, these are things that Jesus Christ in the flesh clearly demonstrated. In 1 John 2:6 the Apostle John writes, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” “Putting on” these things as Paul has instructed helps us to walk as Jesus walked.
We aren’t given an impossible task to follow. We’re given instructions on how to live a live pleasing to God.