Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. 14 Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful. 16 Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
You’ve heard the old saying: “Whenever you see a ‘therefore’, find out what it is ‘there for.’” So, our passage today begins with that word that makes us look backward to the previous verses.
In the preceding passage, which we studied in yesterday’s devotional, we discovered we were to “put off” and “put to death” whatever belonged to our sinful nature. Paul gave us several examples of things to put away. But Christianity is not simply about what you don’t do or what you are not. Once we put off our old self, the Bible tells us to put on the new self we are in Christ. This isn’t simply a one-time occurrence that happens at our point of salvation, but a daily habit to practice.
One thing I love about this passage is that before it tells us to do anything, it informs us of who we are. In other words, what we do comes out of our identity, or who we are in Christ. You are chosen: God has selected you and desires you. You are holy: you are set apart for God’s purposes to make you more like Jesus. You are loved: God has loved you with an everlasting love.
So, after putting off the sinful habits that displease God, and after reflecting on being chosen, holy, and loved, then put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and most of all love, which binds them all together. These virtues are all abstract ideas and hard to gauge, so Paul has in mind how we live these out in community.
Do you demonstrate heartfelt compassion to those in your family? Do others in the body of Christ see you as a person who exemplifies humility? Are you patient and longsuffering with those who need extra measures of grace? Do you desire God’s best for those around you, or are you more concerned about satisfying what you want?
I understand that my spiritual growth requires that I have a goal in mind, that I am moving towards something. Often, I think about being conformed to the image of Jesus or living a Christ-centered life. Other times, I reflect on how my life stacks up against the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
Today’s passage gives another excellent litmus test of examining ourselves in light of what God desires for us. Do the qualities in Colossians 3:12-17 reflect the life I am living, especially in relationship to others? Below, you will find some reflective questions to help you “put on” the New Self, your true self in Christ.
- Begin by reflecting on what you need to “put off” today. Are there any thoughts, attitudes, or actions that are contrary to what God would want for you?
- If you are a follower of Jesus, reflect on the three words that describe you in today’s passage. How does it impact you that you are chosen by God? What does it mean that you are holy? How should the fact that you are dearly loved by God affect you?
- Ask God to allow His Spirit to infuse you today with the qualities that reflect your New Self in Christ. How should it change your day? Pray to be clothed with:
- Heartfelt Compassion
- Love, the perfect bond of unity