Col 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves*~ with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, [towards others].
Anytime we are invited to a special event, one of our first questions is, “What is the appropriate dress for the occasion?”
The command to “clothe yourselves” is a plural aorist imperative to bring out the command’s urgency. The verb is placed at the beginning of the original to emphasize how your behavior identifies you as a true believer.
Paul described the clothes of the “old man” (the typical preconversion dress) that believers are commanded to “put off,” including “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another” (Col 3:8–9). The “new man” is given a new knowledge (“experiential knowledge”) that teaches him not to make a distinction between race or social status within the church body (3:10–11).
No legalistic or specific behavioral actions are commanded because we are expected to take the corporate principles and apply them to our individual situations. The church is to be characterized by “a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
We are to be merciful—not quick to condemn, gossip, criticize, or ostracize one another. We choose to act in kindness, favoring those who do not deserve it. In humility, we put the needs of others before our own and we choose to be patient, not to be angry when others hurt us.
The reason for this plural command to clothe yourself is because the collective body of believers is the “elect of God, holy and dearly loved.” The church as a group is the “elect of God.” Our identity in Christ is to be seen not individually but corporately as a “holy people.” Peter writes, “You are a chosen people. You [pl.] are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you [pl.] can show others the goodness of God, for he called you [pl.] out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9NLT). We must take into account that all these instructions are given in the plural for the entire church and only secondarily to individuals, as they are a part of a functioning body of believers. Are you helping your church fulfill this command?
“Lord, it is so hard to be like You. When people interfered with Your plans or offended Your righteousness, You were always gracious, kind, and patient. Make me more like You.”
In order to practice this command today, I am going to ….
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