“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” -Colossians 3:12-14
With a change in weather, naturally, there comes a change in clothing that we wear. While we pull out our soft sweaters from the closet and put on our cute boots, I want us to consider our spiritual clothing. That’s something that we can and do wear year-round. The Bible instructs us to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14). Are we wearing godly garments?
When we put on tender mercies and kindness, we’re putting on compassion and goodness towards others. We’re also being like Christ when we wear compassion and kindness.
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11
God wants us to show kindness to the poor, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to those who are unkind to us. The Proverbs writer says that “kindness to the poor is a loan to the Lord, and He will give a reward to the lender” (Proverbs 19:17). You might be reading and thinking that that’s you, but poor is a relative term. There’s always someone who is more poor than the next man. The poorest in the United States of America are far more rich than many will ever be in third world countries.
One of the church’s missionaries in Palau in the Pacific Islands, Joey Treat, recently gave a report of the work that he and his family are doing there. He spoke of and showed pictures of Palau and some of the small neighboring islands. The people there cannot afford many of the luxuries that we enjoy in America today. There, they have no phones and no cell towers, so people have to relay messages over the radio and hope that the person for whom it’s intended or someone that they know is listening at the exact time that it’s broadcast. We don’t have to worry about that kind of lack here in the U.S. But there, everyone has to hear people’s conversations and messages; there is no privacy. None of us would want that. They probably don’t prefer it either, but it’s probably, also, the least of their concerns. It’s a very kind thing that the missionaries are doing there in taking the saving Gospel message of Jesus Christ to them.
Peter reminds us to add to our faith brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love and that if we have those things we “will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1: 7, 8). Sometimes that kindness comes in the words that we speak (Proverbs 31:26) that may bring comfort to the hearers (Psalm 119: 76). Other times being kind means rebuking a sister or brother when they are wrong.
“Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil. Let my head not refuse it.” – Psalm 141:5
I’d much rather have a sister or brother in Christ approach me and tell me when I am doing something contrary to God’s will than for them to sit by and watch me fall to the death that sin brings. Even though it might initially sting for someone to hear that they are wrong, they’ll be better off for it if they are shown their error and given the opportunity to correct it before it gets worse. The one who does that for another is loving and kind. Are you showing kindness to your brothers and sisters in the Lord and teaching them the ways of righteousness?
God desires for that kindness to be extended to all people, though – not just fellow Christians, but to those who exercise ill will towards us, too. Consider Joseph and all of the calamity that befell him as a result of his brothers being jealous of him, selling him into slavery, and making his parents believe that he had died.
“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.’ […] Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” – Genesis 50: 15, 19-21
After all that they had done to him and all the hurt and pain that he experienced in his life because of how they’d initially treated him, Joseph still spoke kindly to his brothers and he comforted them. God wants us to do the same thing for our enemies, because in being kind to them, we will heap coals of fire on their heads (Romans 12:20).
While we adorn ourselves with compassion and kindness, God also wants us to put on humility. The Bible explicitly states for us to “be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ (1 Peter 5:5).”
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.” – Proverbs 22:4
Wearing humility means that you “consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Also, wearing kindness and humility go hand-in hand. The Word says that we are to go about “in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25).
It’s all desire that all people might be saved. So, we must clothe ourselves in kindness, in compassion for the lost, and in humility. Then we can share the Good News that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven and clothed Himself in human flesh so that He might die for the forgiveness of your sins and mine. That forgiveness is open to all who will obey His will by believing that He is the Christ, by repenting of your sins, by confessing the name of Jesus, and by being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Then God will clothe you with life everlasting (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). Did you pick any pieces from God’s wardrobe as you dressed today? Are you wearing humility, kindness, and compassion?