“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
We discussed putting on compassion, or tender mercies, kindness, and humility in part 1 of What Are You Wearing?. God wants those things in our spiritual clothes closets so that we can wear them every day. Being kind, compassionate, and humble means that we might have to rebuke and correct a brother or sister. When we do so, we are to do it having their best interests at heart. We also do it in a spirit of meekness. God wants us to also put on meekness.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1, KJV
Meekness carries the same idea as gentleness and kindness. It means that you avoid being too harsh with others. Jesus said that the meek are blessed and will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). We also see that meekness is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23, which tells us that there is no law against it. So, it’s definitely the hottest among spiritual fashion. A lot of times people want to wear the name brand designers and expensive clothing. But, if you want to look good – before God, that is – then be sure that you are wearing His apparel.
Longsuffering, or patience, is part of that wardrobe. God is longsuffering towards His children.
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth’.” -Exodus 34:6
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
“The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” -2 Peter 3:15
The word longsuffering means patience or slow to anger and is often used along with or in place of the word or phrase. We see in Psalm 103, verses 8 and 9 that “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep His anger for ever.” The original Hebrew word for anger has the related meaning of nose, representing the face, or some part of the face attached to it. “‘Hot of nose’ signifies anger, ‘long of nose’ signifies patience, and ‘high of nose’ signifies arrogance” (Strong, 1363). It brings to mind a bull before he is ready to charge when his nostrils flare and are fuming with air. Sometimes when people get angry, their noses flare as well. So, when we see that God is longsuffering, it means that God is long-nosed; it takes Him a long time to get angry – for His nostrils to flare. And that’s because He is patient.
The Lord wants us, His children, to be patient and slow to anger, as well. Notice James 1:19-20.
“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19-20
After we don ourselves with compassion, with kindness, with humility, with meekness, and with longsuffering, God wants us to add forbearance to our outfit. This allows us to bear with one another – or, to put up with each other. All of us have our own idiosyncrasies. You may not be able to stand the loud chewing and smacking of gum or someone mispronouncing or misusing a word. Those are examples of things that we might have to put up with when it comes to others.
But, spiritually speaking, sometimes we have to put up with brothers or sisters who struggle with overcoming sin and temptation in their lives. They may keep coming back for repentance and prayers over and over trying to walk in victory over their fleshly desires. The Bible tells us that we walk worthy of the calling to which we have been called when we bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:1-2). After all, God puts up with way more from us than we will ever have to from anyone else.
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” – Romans 15:1
When we bear with one another, we are then able to put on forgiveness. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13).
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” – Mark 11:25-26
So then, remembering how forgiving God is to us every day of our lives and how He sent His Son Jesus in the form of a man to die for our sins, we ought to also forgive others. It’s not always easy. But think of the worst thing that you have ever done. Think of how you may have hurt someone who was innocent, or how you may have treated someone unfairly or in an ungodly way. Do you want that forgiveness? Would you want that person to forgive you? Now think of all the sin that you have committed against God – all the times that you’ve fallen short of His glory and all the times you’ve messed up and done wrong. Do you want another chance to get it right? I’m sure that you do, because I know that I want God and others to forgive me, too. We must remember that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. That’s a sobering thought.
Notice the contrast of all the things God tells us to put on. Before we put on our spiritual clothing, God wants us to take off some things. Nobody wants to put clean clothes on on top of dirty ones. God says to “put to death whatever in you is worldly: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them” (Colossians 3:5-7).
He also says we must “put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth” (Col. 3:8). Those things are opposite of what God wants us to put on in spiritual clothing. He wants us to be slow to anger and wrath, as we saw in James chapter 1. God says, “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). And again He says, “I will destroy anyone who secretly slanders his neighbor; I cannot tolerate anyone with haughty eyes or an arrogant heart” (Psalm 101:5). As for our communication He says, “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
The things that He tells us to take off and put to death are summed up as the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). And everything that God wants us to wear is what He describes as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Lastly, and above all, God wants us to put on love (Colossians 3:14). It’s the perfect bond of unity. When we dress ourselves up in love, we cover all the other things because of the nature of love.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
Love is kind, love is not puffed up or arrogant; it’s humble. Love is patient – longsuffering. Love endures all things; it bears with other people and puts up with things. It doesn’t act improperly; love is gentle. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs; love is forgiving. If only everyone wore love every single day, the world would be that much better a place to live.
“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18
Did you layer up with compassion and kindness this morning? Are you clothed in humility, in meekness, and in patience? Is your heart coated in forgiveness? Have you put on love?
May we all, each day, dress up in the spiritual clothing that God has designed for us, so that we might stand before Him clothed in the righteousness that is only found in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. Won’t you access that blood today by being immersed in a watery grave of baptism? Then, the Lord will cover you in salvation. Put to death the old man in you, and put on a new man in Christ Jesus. What are you wearing today?