We are intended to be different. Christians are to live differently than the world around lives. We are expected to be different because we are ‘new creations.'
Paul’s says, “clothe yourselves.” When we get up in the morning, we should deliberately put on Christlike qualities. Remind yourself daily that you are a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! We all recognise the characteristics of our sinful selves, some of which Paul lists in verses 5-10 as things to ‘put to death'. The best way to put these things to death, is to focus on giving life to the virtues that Paul lists in v 12-14. This helps to change our patterns of thinking, which will reverse the sinful patterns we may have been used to.
Advocates of ‘positive thinking, facing the day with courage and confidence' write about this deliberate action of ‘putting on' or ‘dressing yourself' in these qualities. Of course, as Christians, we do this in Christ's strength and because of what he has done for us. And these are the qualities that Paul says makes us ‘new'. Listed in verses 12-14
Compassion is that essence of Jesus that is sympathy, empathy and a heart of pity. Do we approach life with compassion for others?
Kindness is the action that reveals compassion. It comes in many forms: a smile, a kind word, an invitation for coffee, an offer of help etc. Do we put ourselves out to be kind? Simply being kind can open a whole lot of doors and when you see it in action in church, you often see results follow. People are drawn to kindness.
The chief Christian virtue is humility because it is the exact opposite of the worst of sins, which is pride. We are to put on humility, to think humbly of ourselves. As the apostle puts it in another place, we are to “regard others as better than ourselves.”
Gentleness is a real strength, but it does not have to display itself or show off how strong it is. Jesus described himself as “meek and lowly in heart.” The first lesson of the Holy Spirit is that we must do what Jesus said, “take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.” How difficult it is to remain gentle and meek in certain situations, when we are challenged by others or feel the world is unjust to us. Meekness is the exact opposite of rudeness and abrasiveness, which are so often the results of our need to be heard and seen…the old ways.
Literally, it is longsuffering, the enduring of another’s exasperating conduct without flying into a rage.
“Bear with one another.” This is similar to longsuffering, but it is the positive side. Literally it is “to uphold and support” someone. Not only to restrain yourself but to support others, encourage them. This can be a difficult one, even amongst our Christian friendships.
We are told in the bible that we do not have to repress every feeling of injustice or unfairness that we feel. We are to say how we feel, but, having done that, forget it. Forgive it. Put it away. No longer let yourself think about it. Our model, of course, is Christ’s treatment of us.
Then Paul finishes this list with “over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” A bit like a present, full of good things which is then wrapped up and tied together with a bow.
So, my encouragement to you today is to actively seek ways each day to seek these virtues and ‘put on your new self.'