“12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. “
Paul uses the term ”put on“ here in verse 12. It gives us the sense that believers must choose to put these character markers on like one puts on a shirt. He also calls them ”God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved...“ God sees them, sees us, as holy and beloved. In the preceding verses he tells us that in Christ there is no difference between Jew or Greek, slave or free man etc. This is the basis for what he tells them to do next.
He tells the Colossians to put on love most of all because love is like the umbrella that all of these falls under. As Christians they were to show no partiality because Christ showed none. In His eyes all who were in Him were seen as holy and beloved, not because of anything they did, or the way they looked, or how much money or power they had. It was solely based on His choice; ”God’s chosen ones...“
In verse 13 he tells them to bear with one another. This greek word for ‘bear’ is anechō (ἀνέχω). It can also be translated ”put up with“ or ”endure”. The idea is that even though they are a body of believers they still have sinful tendencies that need to be forgiven as Christ forgave them. This obviously applies to us today as well. If we must choose to put on compassion, humility, meekness, patience and love then that means we can also choose to be uncaring, mean spirited, prideful, boastful, impatient and unloving.
He finishes this passage by telling us to do everything in the name of the Lord in other words, do it all in order for Christ to get all of the glory. That truly is what Christianity is about.
Christianity is not about ME going to church, ME reading the bible, ME being in a small group and ME sinning less.
Although those are certainly good things, ultimately the reason we are in Christ is so that He might be glorified. The reason we were saved was so that He might be known more. This may sound horrible to some. To think that God is self-centered. But I just read today in 2 Kings 20 about 2 instances where God saved His people form annihilation for His names sake. A simple word search for the term “for His names sake” produces countless other examples. Even Paul’s conversion was done so that the patience of God might be shown. From 2 Kings 20 we also see that when God is glorified is to our good. I don’t think that you can separate the two. In God’s pursuit to glorify Himself our joy is fulfilled.
It’s like the last line of the theme song of Married With Children:
Love and marriage. Love and marriage.
Go together like a horse and carriage.
This, I tell you brothers.
You can’t have one without the other
Just like love and marriage, God’s glory IS our ultimate joy. In a way, “you can’t have one without the other.”
To ‘put up with one another“ is key to unity in the body of Christ and this unity is key to making Christ known.
As John 17:22,23 says:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Too many times I have seen leaders criticize the work of other leaders or volunteers. Because they might not be as organized, or the event did not go off as well as planned. I have seen youth form cliques and exclude the uncool or not as talented or not as old etc.
All of this is rooted in the thought, whether conscious or unconscious, that one is better than the other. That somehow because we are more attractive, more talented, have more money, pull off awesome events, fundraise tons of money or whatever it may be, we are better than someone else.
People who think like this are like a vending machine. You put in a few coins for a bag of chips. But that last coin hasn’t yet dropped and so you don’t get your bag of chips. The coin is in the machine but it has not yet been fully deposited. And just like that vending machine, these people intellectually understand grace but it has not dropped into their hearts affecting their emotions and affections and so their is no fruit of that grace evident in their lives.
As receivers of grace, we must be willing to bear with one another for the sake of unity in the body.
The American ideals of individualism and consumerism have seeped into the church. “If this doesn’t work for me I’ll get a new one.“ And so we see a pin ball effect where people are bouncing to and fro from church to church never building relationships. Or people stay within a particular body of Christ but become poisonous and acidic to those around due to their bitterness.
The only way to combat this is to fully understand grace and forgiveness which places everyone on the same level and urges us to put up with people’s sinful proclivities and not only that but to forgive as Christ forgave.
Do we allow sin to flourish and just simply endure it with no rebuke? By no means. But even the rebuke must be rooted in love with the ultimate goal of reconciliation to Christ and His body.
The idea is to never give up. Whether that means you giving up on the church and leaving or you giving up on the person and allowing them to continue sinning.
Both are a danger to unity.
So let us pursue unity in the body with love and grace as our foundation. Let’s pursue Christ with reckless abandon of our own pride and glory. So that unity flourishes and Christ is magnified and made known.
Please root out of me anything that is working against your purposes of unity in the body. I lay my life down at your feet knowing that you love. Please use me as you please to love on others and glorify your name.
In Christ’s name, Amen