PUT ON ALL THESE
Colossians 3:12-14 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfect-ness.
In verses previous to the lesson text, Paul admonishes the Christians at Colosse to put off the old man with his deeds - the deeds of anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communications, and lying, and to put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him (See verses 8-10). Returning to the creation, divinely recorded by inspiration in Genesis, it is written, So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them (Gen. 1:27). The image of God is that of holiness. The Jewish nation, God's chosen people, was commanded to be holy, for I am holy (Lev. 11:44b). This law of God was quoted by Peter, and thus carried over as a commandment of New Testament Christianity. Peter wrote to the body of Christ, As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (Pet. 1:14-16).
When one accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and their Savior, the old person living in worldliness dies and a new person is born, one that is holy, and one that reflects the image of God. Sinful deeds are to be put off, and replaced by godly deeds of good works. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10). From the beginning of time, God's chosen people have been expected, even commanded, to lead lives that reflect His holiness and glorify His name. As we behold the example of Jesus Christ, we are to use His image to pattern our lives, and by doing so, reflect the very image of God through His Son, and our Savior.
As God's chosen people, the church of Christ, we are commanded, in the lesson text, as were the brethren of the church at Colosse, to put on mercy, kindness, humbleness, meekness, long-suffering, forbearance, forgiveness and charity. All these characteristics were included in the life of Jesus, and the same should be put on, and worn, by all His followers, the children of God. These deeds are to make up the conduct of all Christians, are to be worn as spiritual clothing, to be seen by the world, and are to reflect the image of God through Christ. Faithfully wearing these garments of holiness in Christ, is the greatest sermon ever preached to a world, filled with transgressions that reflects the image of Satan, the father of all sin.
Put on bowels of mercy, or as found in the revised edition, a heart of compassion. The meaning is to show deep care, concern, and sympathy for the needs of others.
Put on kindness. Demonstrate mercy and compassion through charitable acts that fill both the physical and spiritual needs of others.
Put on humbleness of mind. Without a humble nature within us, there can be no submission to those in authority - to parents, teachers, government officials, employers, and even to our Heavenly Father. Without humility, we cannot condescend, stoop down to those below us, and through kindness, fill their needs. Humbleness allows us to serve all others, whether they be above, equal to, or below us.
Put on meekness. Meekness is the gentle demeanor by which one demonstrates humility. It is patient, mild in manner, and void of anger and resentment. Unlike weakness, the characteristic of meekness takes strength and courage to be righteously expressed in our lives. Weakness is inherent in the nature of mankind, while meekness is a conscientious choice. Our Savior said, for I am meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29b). This is the image of Jesus that we are to reflect in our lives.
Put on long-suffering. As a characteristic of life, it means to patiently endure; to suffer for a long time, the troubles, insults, or even injuries brought on by the acts of others. God mercifully endures our sins and shortcomings without immediate retribution, encourages us, and allows us an extended period of time for repentance. Likewise, we are to express this image of God, and be long-suffering toward our fellow man.
Put on forbearance. Forbearance is the manner in which we demonstrate long-suffering. It is the tolerant attitude we learn, develop, and put into effect in our lives, that controls, and keeps in check, the innate desire for retribution against acts of unkindness, that may result from the faults of others. Paul said forbearance is necessary for a Christian to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called (See Eph. 4:1-3).
Put on forgiveness. When one recognizes their sinful condition, comes to Christ, and is baptized for the remission of sins, God immediately, and freely, forgives their sins. His only requirement for this act of mercy is a contrite heart that confesses and repents from one's sinful state. No Christian has the right to withhold forgiveness from the penitent heart of anyone, that seeks it from him or her. To do so would not project the image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as required by God's command.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfect-ness. No words come to mind that describe the beauty, as well as the necessity, of love to every Christian more fittingly than those found in Paul's letter to the church of Christ at Corinth. His wonderfully inspired commentary on charity/love is used in closing this lesson (Read and reread; diligently study 1 Corinthians 13 as transcribed below).
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me 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, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (1 Cor. 13).