I recall an article written shortly after the untimely death of the late mayor of Boston Tom Menino that included some advice given to him. Following his first mayoral campaign win, someone close to him told him to go out and buy half-a-dozen or so new suits. The mayor-elect did just that. He needed new clothes to go with his new identity as Boston’s mayor.
In a far greater way, our new identity in Christ requires us to put on a different wardrobe. The Apostle Paul said to the Colossian Christians, “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) We might ask what these new articles of clothing consist of?
“Compassion” here translates an idiomatic phrase in the original Greek that is perhaps better captured by the phrase “heartfelt compassion.” The heartfelt-compassionate person is the one who not only has sympathy and empathy but acts on those inclinations.
“Kindness” refers to any benevolent act. The kind person ever looks for a door to hold open for another, a plate to clear from the table with their own, an act that will brighten someone’s day, a meal to cook for a neighbor in need. Their kind acts are not random or episodic; they are habitual and part of who they are.
“Humility” resembles the very act of Christ’s incarnation, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on the cross (Philippians 2:8)!” The humble person values others above themselves and looks not to their own interests but the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
The Greek word often translated “gentleness” is defined in the Greek lexicon as “the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance.” The gentle person is careful not to get a big head.
“Patience” refers to “a state of being able to bear up under provocation.” In the day and age of social media, where inhibition if often found wanting, how much do we need this kind of patience?
“Love” is the great overcoat that holds all the other articles in place. Because God has loved us in Christ, we ought to reflect this same type of love in our lives.
In summary, the new clothes are laid out; don’t forget to put on the new clothes.
Sermon is on its way! Stay tuned 🙂