Do you have a favorite outfit? One that you wear when you want to look your best? Do you dress nice for a date? When you go to lunch with your friends? Or when you go to church? Most of us carefully consider what we will wear in public. We want others to see us at our best. We don’t usually wake up and leave the house without showering, brushing our hair, and making ourselves look presentable.
But, how do we look spiritually? Do we spend time considering the spiritual clothing we will wear?
What is the proper spiritual attire of a Christ follower?
Colossians 3:12 describes some of the proper attire for a Christian.
We are God’s children, holy and dearly loved. He has chosen us and made us holy so that we might represent Him to the world. Being holy means to be set apart and made different. As holy children of the King, we are to clothe ourselves in holy garments – ones that reflect His character.
We must wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience to properly represent our Father. When others see these virtues, they gain a better understanding of God.
Compassion expressions concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others.
Jesus had compassion on those He encountered. He was concerned for the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matt 9:36). He cared for the sick, the blind, and the hungry (Mat 14:14, 15:32, and 20:34).
To be clothed as our Lord was clothed, we must have compassion on others.
We wear compassion when we care about what others are facing. We sympathize with their hurts and try to comfort them. We pray for them and reach out to them with a kind word. Compassion makes us willing to go out of our way to meet other’s needs.
Kindness is friendly, generous, and considerate.
God expressed His kindness to us when He saved us by grace (Ephesian 2:4-7). We did not deserve salvation; but God, who is rich in mercy, expressed His love to us by reaching out in kindness to save us. He continues to show us kindness by giving us blessings, provisions, wisdom, guidance, and much more.
As God’s children, we are to show kindness to everyone. We can express friendliness with a smile, a hand shake, or a hug. We should watch for opportunities to do good and speak kind words to others. We can generously share our blessings with others. When we do these things, we express the kindness of our King.
Humility values others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
When we are clothed with humility, we do not look out for our own interest or seek what we can gain from a situation. We look for ways to do good to others because we value them more than ourselves. Isn’t that what Jesus did when He died on the cross? He put our needs above His, so that we could become a part of His family.
Gentleness treats others with tenderness.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, cares for us with gentleness. He understands that sheep will not follow a harsh master, so He leads us with His soft voice. He shows us the way we should go with gentleness and meekness. He tenderly restores us when we fail Him.
To properly reflect our Shepherd, we must treat others with gentleness. As we lead and teach others, our words and tone must not be harsh. In a gentle manner, we tell others of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). We are to have a spirit of gentleness when we restore those who are caught in sin (Gal 6:1) or correct those who oppose Christ (2 Tim 2:25).
Patience accepts delays, problems, and suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.
Peter links the patience of God with His delay of judgement – both in Noah’s day and in ours. He is longsuffering because He does not want anyone to perish (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9). After He saves us, He displays His patience by persistently working to transform us into the image of His Son. When we fail to cooperate or even rebel, He continues to patiently draw us to Himself.
We should show this same patience to others. Regardless of how they treat us, we are to treat them as God would. We overlook their imperfections as we patiently wait for Him to work in their lives. Second Timothy tells us to preach the Word – reprove, rebuke, and exhort – with complete patience (2 Tim 4:2). When we are patient, we willingly endure other’s problems and suffering knowing that God is using every situation to make them more like Jesus.
Finally, we are to
“Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14). Love is the perfect outer garment. It accentuates and unifies the rest of our spiritual attire. Love is what others should see when they look at us. Through it they see our compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Without it, they see nothing.
We are recognized by our love of each other. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Jesus also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). As Christ followers, we are to have a higher standard of love than the world. We are to love everyone – even those who treat us like an enemy.
Love is the mark of a true Christian. It is the virtue that most clearly reflects God’s character.
The next time you are getting ready to go somewhere, consider the spiritual attire you will wear. Takes some time to clothe yourself with the virtues that reflex Christ.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12,14
© Copyright by Karen Griffin 2019
All Scriptures are quoted from the NIV unless otherwise indicated.