“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14

By Pastoral Apprentice Yong Zhou

During this Holy Week, we have been talking about ‘putting away’. ‘Putting away’ is about what not to do. Today we are learning what it means to ‘put on’, which is about what to do. In real life, it’s important for us to learn both the negative (‘put away’) and the positive (‘put on’).

When we think of what ‘put on’ means, we usually think of putting on clothing. But in today’s passage – Colossians 3:12-14 – we are going to talk about putting on certain character qualities.

But first it’s important that we do this as God’s chosen ones. As Christians, we often try to put on the imperatives without the indicatives. ‘Indicative’ refers to who we are already in Christ. I know it is a difficult concept for us to remember the indicative because we are by nature Pharisees. We want to prove to God and others that we are competent and great at something, therefore we put on the imperatives without the indicatives. This happens very often to Christians. Colossians 3:12-14 gives us imperatives, but only after reminding us of the indicatives. The order matters.

Christians are called to put on as God’s chosen ones. God’s chosen ones, not just chosen ones. When we think of chosen ones, we usually think of LeBron James, the CHOSEN ONE. Or ‘chosen one’ means status and power. However, God’s chosen ones means that God has chosen us to be with him. It’s not a matter of our own work, but the completely free will of God. No one chooses to be a Christian until God has first chosen him or her. It’s 100% free grace. This is such a humbling truth because we can never boast to God of how great we are and how much we have earned his favor.

Because we have been chosen, we have also been made holy and are beloved by God. Once we have truly understood these indicatives, then we are finally able to live the imperatives. Because God has chosen us and made us his holy and beloved children, now we can practice compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

All of us struggle to live a compassionate life, a life of kindness, a humble life, a meek life, and a patient life. Some of us may struggle more with one or the other. Just pick one or a few that you are struggling with and ask yourself why you are not living this way. Why are you not living a loving life? Why are you not living a humble life? Why are you always so impatient?

The heart issue in your struggle is a matter of the indicative and not the imperative. You must re-orient your heart to what it means to be and live as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved one. Once your heart re-orients back to these indicatives, then finally are you able to practice compassion, humility, meekness, and patience. For example, the real solution to impatience with your spouse, kids, and annoying people is not being more patience towards them but to re-orient your heart back to being God’s chosen, holy, and beloved one. Therefore, when your heart is re-oriented back to these truths, then you are more willing to be patient toward your spouse, kids, and annoying people. You can apply this to compassion, kindness, humility, and meekness.

Similarly, because we are God’s chosen ones, then we can bear with one another. It is extremely difficult to bear with one another because we are so different in socio-economic status, life stage, education, personality, hobbies, and other preferences. We rub one another the wrong way at times. It is tough to bear with one another. We are all sinners. However, as a church, we are called to bear with one another. What are some ways you have struggled to bear with someone else in the body? What are some ways that you have succeeded in bearing with one another?

It’s not enough for us to just bear with one another, but we also have to forgive each other. In order for us to forgive one another, we have to remember God’s forgiveness of us. What are some ways that you have failed to forgive your brothers/sisters in Christ or other people? Why is it difficult to forgive others? The main reason why we don’t forgive others is because they have sinned against us. And you want retribution on that person. However, that’s not true forgiveness. True forgiveness of someone is really understanding the ultimate forgiveness that we have in God. Forgiven people forgive.

Finally, as God’s chosen, holy, and beloved ones, we are called to put on love. What a glorious word – ‘love’! This love is supernatural, not natural. As God’s beloved ones we are called to live out the love of God to others. Is the love of God the ultimate source of your life? Is your life dominated by the love God? Oh may the love of God dominate your whole life. Beloved saints of IBC, I pray for you and plead with you today to live as God’s chosen ones.