Read Colossians 3:12-17.Paul has made it very clear that our old self has died, and we are made new in Christ. He has pointed out the continual choices we must make to avoid the evil things of the earth. We must participate in an active avoiding and run from the temptations that are always before us.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves." NIV
We have been cleansed and warned, now, as "holy and dearly loved" children of the Almighty, we must actively put on some things. Christ cleansed us from the old ways, but we must choose to put on the new. It doesn't happen automatically. We are on a transformational journey, not a quick-change moment. So we work (and it is work) to consciously seek to wear the character of Christ. God may choose to confront us with one of these at a time, but we must actively be working on them to be more like Him.
Compassion: Merriam-Webster's definition is "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." This takes a purposeful desire to put away selfishness and really look at other people. I must set aside my agenda and serve them. The human mindset of "it's all about me" just doesn't cut it. I must take time to look, listen, and act on another person's behalf to truly show compassion.
Kindness: How we treat others. Do we bad-mouth them or lift them up? Do we give people the benefit of the doubt or condemn outright? Do we compliment or tear down? Do we show the respect that all human beings desire and deserve?
Humility: "The state of being humble" which is "not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive" (Merriam-Webster) Without humility we can easily take on an attitude of "I am better than you. I am above you." Which can lead to "You are not worth my time." Also, a lack of humility can cause us to be judgmental. We are unable to extend grace because in our haughtiness we conveniently forget that we too are imperfect, saved-by-grace sinners. And without humility, we can succumb to the temptations of a god complex. In our pride, we think we are doing everything by our power and deny the true authority in Christ. So many ways to stubble when we ignore the need to embrace humility.
Gentleness: "the quality or state of being gentle ; especially : mildness of manners or disposition" And gentle is "free from harshness, sternness, or violence." (Merriam-Webster) I don't know how many times God has made "gentleness" my word for the year. You'd think I would get it by now, but He's still working on me. (I just want to be like Sister Teresa.) In confrontations, gentleness allows us to calm the savage beast of anger and frustration in others. When we answer affronts with gentleness, the enemy is disarmed. They have no where to go with their anger because you are not being hurt or affected. When we discipline our children in gentleness, we are instructing instead of lashing out. Even when Christ was angry with the disciples, He maintained a gentle spirit.
Patience: Of course this is the act of being patient. Patient is defined as "bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity." (Merriam-Webster) Wow, that's a lot to live up to. No wonder I have such a difficult time with this one.
The great thing is with patience and all the other virtues, I don't have to master them on my own. I choose to clothe myself, but it is Christ who actually makes me into this person. It is by His transforming power that any of this is even possible. I am to allow myself to be the clay in the Master Potter's hands. He alone will be able to mold me into the Christ-like character that He calls me to live. I just need to agree to get dressed.
- Find examples of Christ exemplifying each of these characteristics.
- What are ways the five characteristics will overlap with one another?
- What area is Christ working on with you right now? How are you doing?
- Find other Scriptures on each of these characteristics and memorize the ones pertaining to your growth right now.