What Should We Put On?

Think of all the things we tell others we’re going to put on—the coffee maker, a meal, the finishing touches to a project, new tires, and of course, clothes. Some of these, like putting on the morning coffee, don’t take much thought or effort. But others, like putting the finishing touches on a project, take much more. If we spend time thinking about these kinds of things, wouldn’t it be wise for us to think about putting on more important things, like love?

               In his letter to the Colossians, after telling them who they are in Christ, Paul calls believers to put on Christian virtues (Col. 3:12-17). As Gods chosen ones, holy and beloved” (v. 12) we are to live like Christ, by the power of His Spirit within us. Paul begins with five virtues—compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (v. 12). Then he mentions two that serve as a foundation for these five—bearing with, and forgiving one another (v. 13). He concludes with one that binds them all together in perfect harmony—love (v. 14). Each of these virtues is characteristic of Christ Himself, and therefore, Christ serves as our example.

               First, Christ has a compassionate heart. Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Would your family and friends say you are compassionate, especially when they tell you their sin, shame, suffering or weariness in serving others?

               Second, Christ is kind. He loved and did good to those who didnt love and do good to Him. He gave to others without expecting anything in return. Even to the ungrateful and the evil, He was kind (Luke 6:32-36). Would others say you are kind? Do you love only those who love you? Do you lend your talents and time only to those who can return the favor? When someone is ungrateful for your hard work, do you respond in kindness?

               Third, Christ is humble. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7-8). Would your family and friends call you humble? Do you first look to the interests of others?

               Fourth, Christ is meek. Again, look at what Christ says about His heart, I am gentle [or meek] and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Jesus graciously offers us rest when we our weary from life’s trials. Do your family and friends going feel rested after spending time with you because of your prayers and wise counsel in their time of need?

               Finally, Christ is patient. Hear His lament over Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matt. 23:37). Jesus gave His enemies time to repent, but they refused. He was patient with His disciples as they grew in their faith. What about you? Are you patient with others, especially those who make life uncomfortable or inconvenient for you?

               These five virtues flow from a forgiving heart that bears with others. Since this doesnt come naturally to us, the Lord taught us to pray, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). Since God has forgiven us, shouldn’t we forgive others? Since God is patient with us as He conforms us to Christ, shouldn’t we be patient with others as they grow in Christlikeness?

               Above all these other virtues we must put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14). Like a binding ingredient in baking, like flaxseed, that is necessary for the recipe to turn out well, so too love is the binding ingredient in the recipe for Christlikeness. Love is from God, and is evidence that a person has been born again and knows God (1 John 4:7). When we abide in God, we abide in love (v. 16). 

               Paul transitions from speaking about putting on Christian virtues to two further exhortations. First, believers are to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15).      Second, Paul exhorts the Colossians to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (v. 16). One way to do this is through singing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (v. 16). Paul concludes with a sweeping statement, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (v. 17).

               What Christian virtues do you need to put on today? Ask God to empower you to do so. In what situation do you need the peace of Christ to rule in your heart? Ask God to help you rest in Him. In what present circumstance do you especially need the word of Christ to dwell in your heart richly? Take time to read, study, teach, and sing Scripture. It will encourage you, edify you, and equip you for life in this fallen world. Dont neglect it, and dont make it just a private affair. Each Sunday go to a gospel-centered church where you hear Gods Word preached and sung, and where you can join other voices in giving thanks to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.

Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit www.sarahivill.com.




Sarah Ivill