12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. –Colossians 3:12-14, NIV
Men’s business attire seems to be changing more rapidly these days. First was the business casual with dark jeans and a blazer, which says—I am casual, but still all about the deal. Then it became a thing to wear brown shoes with dark pants. The pocket handkerchief is working to replace the tie. Now we have reached a stage where a businessman might wear the blazer and jeans, but with white converse-style shoes. These fashions come and go. Some people ride the wave, others trail behind. Some try to set the trend. Whatever your preferred look, certain garments will always be in style at the office. In the quotation above, Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, urging them to put on these clothes.
First, he sets them at ease (12a). The clothing is not to make themselves acceptable. They are already God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Your new attire is a result of belonging, not a way to belong.
The clothing he tells them to put on (12b) are all qualities that enable us to connect with others more successfully, and to be a blessing to them when we do: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Compassion literally means to feel with others, to enter their suffering. Kindness means to choose to do and say and mean good to others (Titus 3:4). Humility means to consider others and not think only of ourselves (Phil 2:3). Gentleness means to have a light touch, the way a gifted doctor handles a patient, or a strong ballerina holds herself on a single toe. Patience describes the strength needed to do the right thing at the right moment, and to wait for that moment if necessary.
Paul then says we are to bear with one another (to endure things that change slowly) and to forgive each other (to release our desire for repayment of a wrong suffered). The quality of this fabric is impeccable. We are to forgive as God forgave us, completely with no lingering accusations or bitterness.
Finally, he tells them to put on love, which binds all of these “clothes” together in perfect unity. The root and foundation of all these virtues is love. The deepest meaning of compassion is to love your neighbor by feeling and sharing their challenges. To look at it in reverse, one expression of love is compassion. Love becomes the standard which helps to regulate and connect all these different commands.
All of us spend a fair amount of time thinking about our physical attire and appearance. Let’s make sure to put on these even more important garments which help everyone. In so doing, we will honor Christ, who bought them for us by his own blood on the cross.