Hello my adventure-seeking, coffee-drinking folk! (Haha, you knew that last part was going to wind up in here somehow!)
Sometimes I listen to podcasts. Sometimes I don’t. Simple as that. As I was leaving my Weight Watchers meeting this morning (holla!), I was thinking back to one of the podcasts that have stood out in my mind, and in which I’ve gotten constant reminders through lately. I had listened to one of Andy Stanley’s podcast series (LOVE. Download the app “Yourmove” and be amazed). The series I had engaged in at that time was entitled “Follow”-talking about being deliberate in your personal relationship with Christ. I was a little disappointed in the title of the episode in the series that I’m referencing: “Follow Wear”. Um, hello? Typo? Are we really going to talk about how to dress appropriately for the next 30 minutes? Sigh.
But then, once Andy had roped us in, he planted such a cool thought in my mind and heart that I simply just had to share with you.
When we think about wearing something, we think about it covering our body (hopefully most of it!) and truly embodying what we are wearing, almost to the point that it becomes part of us, and becomes what people may notice about us as we begin to approach them.
But have we ever thought about “wearing” or “putting on” a virtue?
Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people (can we just pause for a second and take that in? Chosen people! God chose you and me!), holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” –Col. 3:12-15
Seriously guys, I was so inspired by this that I could go on about this all day, but I will try to keep it manageable to read.
“Putting on” or “clothing yourself” with these virtues is not simply being aware of what this looks like, but truly choosing and embodying these elements of loving others, ourselves, and Christ. I just wanna break this down for ya’ll (and for my own reflection!):
- Compassion: giving off that you feel what the other person is feeling, engaging in empathy regardless of the fact that they didn’t make a good choice, didn’t listen to you the first 8 times, no matter.
- Kindness: loaning your strength to someone else. WOAH! You extend of yourself to do something someone else needs. Doing something you didn’t have to do through loaning your capacity.
- Humility: When in relationship to other people, seeing yourself as you really are in relationship to others and to God. Exuding that truth that God loves you truly as much as all his children, and that we are not above anyone.
- Gentleness: the decision (decision!) to respond to someone in light of their strengths and weakness rather than coming to someone with your strength. Adjusting our approach in accordance to who we are trying to reach. Gentle people don’t maintain relationships in a position of “how great they are” or “what they’ve done”. They gear down to the level of the person in order to communicate that the relationship is more important than exuding your own capacity. This involves no leverage of our own or condescension, but rather truly valuing the other person’s abilities above our own.
- Patience: deciding (again!) to go the speed of another person. Putting someone else’s pace ahead of your own.
Paul states “ this is how I want you to be known”! And above all else, put on love as an umbrella that truly ties all these virtues together, the common denominator of all these approaches. We have to truly make a decision to put these on and embody these each and every day through the strength of Christ. Every day we have to remind ourselves to put these on, because Jesus wants people to identify us as his followers by the way we treat other people.
I think about all the times that God has put on these virtues for me: patience in the amount of times I have broken my promises to him, forgiveness when I truly didn’t deserve it, the list goes on and on. Paul is explaining that God desires us, when in relationship with others, to put on these virtues just as he has done or us. Now, that’s a tall order. But when I think about these virtues in this light and how Christ has done this again and again for me, it creates so much more urgency to extend in this same manner.
Same as I decide each morning what I will wear for the day (wouldn’t life be oh-so-awesome if we could just live in yoga pants?), I also need to deliberately and intentionally choose to put on these virtues each day. I already know in my heart I will fail so many times. But that’s when God’s grace steps in, where he covers me with love and abundance through the promise of his sanctification. As well as providing me with Christ-loving sisters to keep me in check 😉
How have you put these virtues on today? I would love to hear and find inspiration in you all.