Above all put on love

Colossians 3--12

Colossians 3:12 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the Verse of the Day for March 16, 2016, provides a picture of how we should behave toward one another:

[The Christian Life] Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

To gain a fuller understanding of what our behavior should be, we need to take a look at verses 12-17:

12 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.

One approach is view this passage in light of clothing that everyone puts on. We ask, “What are we going to wear today?” The Word of God provides the answer:

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

Another feature of the garments that believers are encouraged to wear is forgiveness. We must recognize that the garment that we choose to wear is always fashionable, but we still must choose to put it on:

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

As poet John Oxenham notes:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,
And while it stands with open hands, it lives.
For this is love’s prerogative:
To give and give and give

Indeed, forgiveness is an aspect of love, the outer garment that we are instructed to put on that will pull together all the other garments that we should wear.

Colossians 3:14 continues to describe how we should clothe ourselves:

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

In addition to putting on proper garments, God desires that we show ourselves grateful at all times and make gratitude or thanksgiving a part of our daily attire, as verses 15-17 also reminds us:

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.

More than merely occasionally expressing how grateful we are, we are encouraged to maintain a continual “attitude of gratitude,” whereby we express our thanks to God in everything we say and do.

The closing verse of the passage from Colossians 3 brings to mind these poetic words of encouragement:

In happy moments, praise God.
In difficult moments, seek God.
In quiet moments, worship God.
In painful moments, trust God.
In every moment, thank God.

At All Times

I will bless the Lord at all times,
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

When God’s goodness and mercy follow closely,
And we savor the ecstasy of victory,
When joy overflows and floods our souls, we will praise God.

When gripped by the devices of this transient life
And caught in the straits of rising conflict and strife,
During these difficult moments, we will seek God.

When we long to abide within a tranquil mood
And linger in moments of sweetest quietude,
From the depths of our souls, we will worship God.

Despite raging seas, stormy winds and blinding rain,
When protracted pain strikes like a knife and numbs the brain
So that we can scarcely scream Your name, we will trust God.

All along life’s journey, no matter the season,
Through every why and wherefore, for every reason
Every moment we draw breath, we will thank God.

We seek the Lord and ask ourselves, “What shall we do?”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”
“Give thanks: it is God’s will in Christ concerning you.”

On that thankful note, we conclude with this music video by Bill & Gloria Gaither “In Everything Give Thanks,“ featuring Charlotte Ritchie and Jeff & Sheri Easter:

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