Getting Dressed for the New Year

Col 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Paul, here in Colossians 3, explains what we should do in light of the fact that we are all already dead people, having died with Christ, having been “Buried with him in baptism,” and having been “risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” In light of the fact that we are living the resurrection life, dead to the world, dead to the rudiments of the world, dead to the religions of the world, and alive unto God.

It is not merely that we shall die and rise, but that we are already dead and risen with Christ.

Since we are resurrected with Christ, Paul tells us in verse 1 that we are to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Making Christ who saved us and resurrected us with Him the object of our souls, God is able to elevate our walks above the ways of old selves and above the ways of a world set opposed to God.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Why? Col 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. The more a believer enters into these blessed truths, making them his own by reckoning himself dead with Christ and risen with Him, with his life hid with Christ in God, the more the things above will be for him the great attraction and the things on earth will lose their charm.

The things above are Christ and His glory. The things on earth include all the deceiving things mentioned in the previous chapter, such as the rudiments of the world, philosophy and words of vain deceit, legalism, ritualism, ordinances, as well as worldly ambitions, honors, pleasures and achievements. All these will fade away when the believer’s heart is occupied with Him who fills the throne in glory. This is the true and only way of sanctification–heart occupation with the risen Christ.

Getting Dressed for the New Year

If we resolve to do anything, let’s resolve to put on all these precious aspects of Christ Himself.

This list of attributes of Christ we put on is a direct contradiction to those things we’re told to put off. Anger, wrath, and malice replaced with bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. We replace the bad habits with new good habits. The old sinful nature is treated like an addiction. It’s not enough to stop living the way we have always lived in the flesh. We have to replace that entire life with a whole new life, and Paul doesn’t tell us what to stop doing but has us focus on those things that should replace those qualities to which we were enslaved.

You also can’t help but be moved by how this list is presented, how these verses are written, which speaks to the fact that becoming conformed to the image of Christ can’t can be mastered by intellect alone, but as we see here, the qualities of Christ appeals to the heart and to the conscience, as well as the mind.

We have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us while we read these verses, connecting these qualities with Christ Himself so that we may feel, judge, and act properly in our daily walk. He’s telling us that, as the elect of God, with a new man, indwelt by Christ, and one with Him, holy and beloved, complete in Him, we are to put on the inner qualities of Christ Himself, not just how He acts but how He feels inside. Exemplifying this list is the result of knowing Christ, not as He was during His time on Earth, but as He is now, risen and seated in glory.

I was also struck by the intimacy of these verses. These aren’t simply good Christian qualities He wants to see in us. The Lord is sharing Himself with us. He’s sharing who He is, what He is like, and what He feels inside, which He wants to see in us. The tone of the epistle shifts here. We went through all these doctrines and exhortations up until this point, and suddenly, everything becomes deeply personal now with an intimate relationship with Lord Jesus Christ. These are personal, intimate, moral virtues of Christ — the tone, the spirit, and the inward feelings of the Lord Himself. Strikes me as being very personal.

Bowels of mercies

This is a deep compassion for others; intestines. In biblical times it was believed the intestines were an inseparable link between the physical body and the innermost being. Paul said Phm_1:7 “For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.” The innards of the saints were refreshed by his love and faith. Of course, when something horrible happens, it feels like a punch in the gut. Php_1:8 “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” Paul’s life was so in step with Christ that the love and affection the Lord had for these dear saints was the same as the tender mercies the apostle felt for them as well, and Paul would want nothing less from us in our affections toward each other.

Kindness

Webster’s says kindness is, “Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; benignity of nature. kindness ever accompanies love.” Eph 2:7 “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” The kindness exemplified in Christ to us is paid forward. Kindness is taking the time to minister. Kindness is time spent from our busy days with great care to teach others about the love of Christ.

Unkindness escalates conflict. Unkindness triggers rebellion and division, whereas kindness de-escalates conflict and tension. Kindness brings unity and love. Kindness isn’t simply acts of goodwill but having that disposition to act in kindness toward everyone. Kindness is in not just what you do but also in what you don’t do. Kindnessis one of the attributes of God Himself, which is to be reflected in us.

And as Webster tells us, “Kindness ever accompanies love.” Kindness is a reflection of pure love. We exhibit kindness in our thinking, in our actions, and in our words. His life in us should transform us to show compassion in place of indifference, forgiveness in place of resentment, kindness in place of coldness, transparency in place of walled defensiveness, and a life lived for God and not self. And if we exemplify these qualities when we suffer, we not only approve ourselves to others as ministers of God, but we may also reap some fruit, some softened hearts willing to accept Christ as their Savior, which is more important than you escaping the suffering. Because we can never forget that God’s lovingkindness to us is greater than life itself.

Humbleness of mind

What is true humility? Rom 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Or Php_2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” It’s not so much thinking lowly of yourself but to think rightly and truthfully of oneself with a heart of servitude toward ourselves lifting their needs above our own. “The smallest birds make the sweetest music.”

Meekness

This is to be gentle or mild. 2 Cor 10:1 – “Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:” We often think of meekness as weakness or being powerless. While Christ on this earth He was meek and gentle but was He ever powerless? Meekness isn’t the idea of weakness but strength under control, which was embodied by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Longsuffering

This is to be slow to anger while bearing injuries or provocation for a long time; patient; not easily provoked. Rom_9:22 “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” If we are in a circumstance that requires longsuffering on our part, does not Christ Himself fully understand experientially that suffering? Because He suffered long before we ever suffer, His strength, His love, is made perfect for us in our weakness, and His grace becomes our sufficiency.

When Paul was longsuffering, he wasn’t simply focused on just getting through the suffering. He’s also focused upon patience, the calm temper with which you wait long to get through that suffering. And he’s also focused upon forbearance, command of temper, the restraint of acting in the flesh. Longsuffering, patience, and forbearance are distinct and yet, they’re all interconnected, because to master the art of longsuffering is to also master the art of patience and forbearance.

Plus, longsuffering is part of the very nature of love itself. Us suffering long with joyfulness puts on display to everyone the fact that His life is manifest in us, and that we intimately know God because we are exhibiting an attribute common amongst the entire Godhead -the capacity to suffer long with joy.

And we know that longsuffering isn’t meaningless. It isn’t without purpose. Longsuffering has an endgame in mind, and that endgame is the salvation of souls. Just as this dispensation is characterized by the longsuffering of the Lord, just as Paul taught Peter and the Jews that the longsuffering of the Lord IS salvation, so too our longsuffering may lead to the salvation of those we know.

Forbearing One Another

This is us ceasing; pausing; withholding from action while exercising patience and indulgence. literally means to put up with someone but in the original, it has the idea of bearing up against one another or supporting someone. It’s not just putting up with someone but helping that weak brother or sister grow in Christ. 1Th_3:5 “For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.”

Forgiving One Another

We do not forgive with the hope the God the Father will forgive us as Christ taught in the sermon on the mount, but we forgive because Christ has already forgiven us. We forgive automatically whether forgiveness is sought from us or not just as Christ has forgiven all trespasses.

Charity

It’s also striking how, in all these qualities when we arrive at love, there is found some form of self-denial. We are to have bowels of mercies, as Christ has bowels of mercies. We are to be humble, meek, and longsuffering as Christ was. We are to forbear as God has forborne. We are to forgive as Christ has forgiven us; and to all of these qualities is to be added charity, which is love in action. Why? Because charity is the ‘bond of perfectness,’ which keeps all of us united together and perfects every detail of our grace-filled life. Think how the world often puts on the appearance of love, although other motives and reasons may be at play. But this is real charity, love that isn’t false in any way but love that extends itself to others naturally “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” People will pick up on a sincere love because they’ve seen so much fake love thrown about. It’s a love that will manifest itself in harmony in every tone and every gesture. If there is Christ’s love in the heart, the words of affection to others will be sincere.

He says ABOVE all these things put on charity, as it’s the most important quality.

What is the result of putting on this quality? It’s the bond of perfectness. It’s the bond, the ligament, the glue that holds the body and the entire program of grace together. And with “perfectness,” you get the sense of full maturity, the ultimate fulfillment of everything God intended for us in this grace program in which we live. When believers exercise love toward each other, they remain bound together in a complete whole. Love binds together, whereas self or flesh is the opposite. Flesh tears apart. Love binds. Love removes the difficulties in human relations, whereas self and the flesh bring in difficulties. Love not only bears and forbears but overcomes evil with good and binds together the Body of Christ.

There’s a parallel passage in Eph 4:16, “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working on the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” In other places, Paul says, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” “Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, and thinketh no evil.” “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” “Let all your things be done with charity.” 1Ti_4:12 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

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