12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
So far we have seen that we are not only called to live out our new position but we are called to put on Christ’s provision for the new life. After putting on Christ’s clothes of tenderhearted mercy and kindness next we are called to clothe ourselves with
Humility kindles kindness, enabling it to flow freely, because it allows us to accept people as they are. We are all made in the same mold, only some are moldier than others. Humility does not come naturally to humanity, it comes when we gaze into the greatness of God and see His grace. Pride is put in its place when we realize that we become who we are only by His grace. Humility is the antidote to self-love and the pride that poisons our relationships. Pride leads to power struggles and the need to be right. Pride hurts our relationships and leads to hate, where humility lends a helping hand. Where pride ruins relationship, humility restores and rejuvenates. Today the message that has molded our culture is that we should love self, is it any wonder that we have become a selfish self-serving society instead of a servant driven one? Humility is not putting yourself down it is lifting others up. Next is the garment of:
Unfortunately our society sees gentleness as weakness, but gentleness is not weakness, it is power under control. It is the picture of a horse that has been trained and can be ridden. It is real strength, but it does not have to display itself or show off how strong it is. Gentleness is the garment of the God-controlled person. When you put on gentleness others can take off their self-defensive armor, wariness, and fearfulness, and can put on trust. Today because we have tossed the garment of gentleness into the garbage can we have gone from a giving society to a guarded one. How do we regain gentleness, by placing ourselves and our situations under God’s will, for when we do we will not need to control others. What happens when a nation gives up on gentleness, they go from being a blessing to being a brat. Instead of serving they become self-absorbed but it doesn’t end there, brats always become bullies. Bullies have one goal to get their way and as a result gentleness is replaced with getting. Next we are called to put on:
Patience means self-restraint, and a steady response in the face of provocation. It is the spirit which doesn’t let mankind’s foolishness and unteachability drive it to cynicism and despair or let the insults and ill treatment drive you to bitterness and anger. Patience is the opposite of resentment and revenge. Patience is putting up with those the flesh wants to put down. Practicing the attributes listed in verse 12 makes the actions listed in verse 13 possible: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.” It’s here that we are commanded to cloth ourselves with:
f. Forbearance and forgiveness
In relationships there is a lot that needs to be endured and it is the spirit of forgiveness that makes difficult things endurable even erasing them. Love is repeatedly having to say “I’m sorry.” In relationship we are vulnerable to pain and it is forgiveness that brings peace. Studies show that it is not great riches that make people happy, but friends and forgiveness. For many an unforgiving spirit is often the last emotional fortress that we yield to the power of God. We cling to anger and bitterness because we feel that those who have wronged us should suffer. We want justice and what is fair and Paul points out we are the recipients of an over fair God. When we realize how much God has forgiven us, we will be compelled to extend mercy to others. We forgo forgiveness because we have somehow missed the mercy of God. When was the last time you looked into the mirror of His mercy, what reflection did you see as your heart was revealed was it one of revenge or restoration? Revenge is ruining our relationships because it doesn’t just harden our hearts it creates a heart of hate. Hate always harbors the hurts and looks for an opportunity to harm. There is a story told about a man named Joe who was dying. For years he had been at odds with Bill, formerly one of his best friends. Wanting to straighten things out, he sent word for Bill to come and see him. When Bill arrived, Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with such a bad feeling between them. Then, very reluctantly and with great effort, Joe apologized for things he had said and done. He also assured Bill that he forgave him for his offenses. Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to go. As he walked out of the room, Joe called out after him, “But, remember, if I get better, this doesn’t count!” Isn’t that a picture of the way we often treat one another, the forgiveness we offer is superficial, given with a selfish motive. We say that we forgive, but when the least little friction arises, how quick we are to resurrect past grievances. We like to “bury the hatchet” with the handle sticking out. That way we can easily pick it up again and use it to our advantage. When we forgive someone we’re not minimizing the harm they caused nor condoning the sin they’ve committed, we are simply choosing to place the offense into the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. Lastly we are called to put on:
Love is the spirit of self-sacrifice that comes from God as we walk with Him. Love lashes all these attributes together with bonds that can’t be broken. Love is the beauty of the believer, dispelling the ugly sins that destroy unity. If compassion is the inner, garment, and if kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness are its active-wear, shirts, pants and socks, then love is the overcoat. “On top of all these things,” Paul says, “put on love.” Love brings warmth to a relationship. Love is not merely an emotion, emotions wear thin and threadbare as feelings ebb. Love as the overcoat is made up of two things, commitment and caring. It’s the solid ground on which relationships rest “I will be there for you.” That’s the commitment but what good is commitment without caring? Caring says, “I commit myself to you and I will be there to care for you.”
Today our relationships are running aground and being wrecked against the rocks of recklessness because we are dressing for success instead of for service. We have bought into the world’s wardrobe instead of the Words. In an attempt to be hip we have crammed our closets full of current culture and cast aside Christ’s. What is the price that we have paid for this worldly wear? That which is dearest and most desirable, the richness of relationship. The truth is we are not hip we are hypocrites; while we parade around in our political correctness we are poisoning and putting to death that which makes us human. We are not tolerant we are tyrannical; we are destroying that which is dearest. Today dads are deserting their families, people are targeting police, the peace keepers of our society, while politicians promise to fix it all with more policies. Our worldly wardrobe has left us naked but sadly not ashamed. What we need isn’t more laws its more love, if we want to become a successful society then we need to start dressing for service not self. We need to start dressing from Christs closet not the cultures. What about you, what wardrobe are you wearing?