October 8, 2023 Putting On What We Need

Putting On What We Need

October 8, 2023


Scripture reading: Colossians 3:12-14


These are precious verses, full of hope and life. We need God’s words to give us hope because the vicissitudes that we sometimes face drive us to despair. We need life because sin brings death in the here-and-now (not just in the age to come) and sin is always at our door (Genesis 4:7). Sin is at your door! It is at my door. Although we may master it much of the time, because we possess the Spirit, it is still there!


So, we need life! And God’s word brings life with it (John 6:63; Romans 8:6; Phil. 2:16). These words of God bring life when we read them in the spirit!


All of God’s words bring life but some bring more than others. Consider I Chronicles 11:26 –


26 The mighty men were Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,[1]


There is life in this verse.  Even if we don’t know who Dodo was (he wasn’t a bird!) or who Elhanon was, we can appreciate the fact that God gave mighty men to King David to help him overcome the unbelieving Philistines. It should make us realize that, God will give us mighty helpers when we need them.


But surely, this verse has more life:

22    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

23    they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness. [2]


Oh! How wonderful and uplifting are these verses! They are full of life and hope!


These three verses in Colossians are like this. So full of life and hope! Let us consider them.


In verse 12 the apostle calls the Colossians, “chosen ones, holy and beloved.” Because he is writing to a local church this applies directly to us. If you are a member of the church this means that you have been chosen by God. He chose you! He chose you before you chose him. Indeed, he chose you from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4; Rev. 13:8)! Before God made the universe, he had you in mind and chose you for Himself!


The apostle calls you, “holy.” Someone may think, “But I don’t feel holy and many times, I am not holy.” (Holy means separated, that is, set apart for God’s purposes, and includes the idea of being sanctified.) It may be true that you don’t feel holy and that, at times, you don’t act like it. But here is where we need to trust what God says and not our feelings. If you belong to Christ, then you are holy. Believe it and receive it! It’s a divine fact. Your life will catch up to what you really are! Do you hear me?


Your life will catch up to what you really are! But you are holy! You are set apart by God and for God.


And, the apostle calls you beloved. If you belong to Christ then you are loved by God! One of the heartbreaking experiences of life is to not be loved by one you love. But even if we have this experience, we are nevertheless loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus. It is a divine reality. And there is no better person to be loved by than the Lord! His love is better than any human love.


Verse 12 begins with three important words: “Put on then…”


For God[3] to command us to “put on” means that the various dispositions of the heart that follow do not result merely from the circumstances of our life, nor do they remain elusive because of our fallen nature; rather, we can choose to be different! Our disposition is under the control of our will!


We are to put on a compassionate heart. Compassion is an emotion. Sometimes our compassion comes to us naturally and this is a sign of a tender heart. I’ll never forget the time our whole family went to the Philippines when the children were very young. Jael was only a baby and had to be in a stroller. Kai was seven years old. We were at an outdoor public market and had bought some fresh-baked bread. Each child had their own. We were sitting at a table eating our snacks when two or three local children came to our table. They were thin and hungry. When Kai saw them, I saw a look of compassion come across his face and he gave them his bread even though I’m certain he as hungry. I was so moved by this, seeing my son caring for strangers like that!


But there are other times when we don’t feel compassionate. But we can choose to be! When we do compassionate things, our own hearts begin to change!


We are to put on kindness. A breathtakingly beautiful woman married an extraordinarily ugly man. He was not rich. In fact, this woman’s fortune was much more. People thought they were mismatched. One time someone asked her privately why she married an obviously ugly man. She replied, “I have never met a man as kind as he and he has always been so kind to me.” Kindness is a more important virtue than most and makes the ugly beautiful! It will make you more beautiful!


We are to put on humility. How most of us need this! Pride was the first sin of angels and even Eve’s fall in the garden had its source in pride.  Pride greatly displeases the Lord while humility pleases him and others too.  It is refreshing to speak to someone who is humble. We like to be around those who are humble.


Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.

The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.


Again, since we are to put on humility, it is something that we can choose to exercise.


We are to be meek. The meek are those who do not retaliate when they are insulted, oppressed, or attacked. We have the right to defend ourselves. Thus, this meekness is primarily an attitude of the heart. The meek do not seek to conquer others nor to assert their will upon others. Rather, they endure suffering upon themselves. They allow others to live their life without demanding compliance to the way we think things should be (for matters outside the purview of God’s law).


This matter of asserting our will upon others is a temptation for all of us. Even quiet, soft-spoken persons will try to do that, in a quiet way, of course!


The first couple of years that I was married, partly because I married later in life and was set in my ways, we seldom did the things that Josie wanted to do. Of course, we would sometimes. But most times she would suggest something and I would think that it wasn’t interesting so we did something else. I realized that her ideas were good and I started doing what she wanted to do and do you know what? The things we did were fun and enjoyable. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being meek.


Meekness does not insist on its own way.


We are to put on patience. Everyone knows what patience is, so there is little that needs to be said. As with all the other attributes it is something that we can choose to do. We can choose to be patient.


When I was with my former fiancé in the Philippines she would hear me, rather often, express dissatisfaction with the way things were done there and, especially, with how long things took there. Everything was slower. She would look at me and simply say, “Dear, just be patient.” Do you know what? That’s all it took. As soon as she said that, immediately I felt patience. This shows that patience is under our control.


13 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.[4]


Why does Paul have to tell the church to bear with each other? Why address complaining? Because this is the way we are!


  • Most of us do things that get under the skin of our fellow believers.
  • Many of us complain about others.
  • We often get offended by what someone may say to us or about us.
  • And, others may actually sin against us.


Here is the more important question: Why does Paul need to tell us to forgive each other? Because we tend to withhold forgiveness. We are prone not to forgive.


Not only are we to forgive but we are to forgive in the same way that the Lord has forgiven us. How has he forgiven us? The Lord Jesus reveals this in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Let us read that.


Read Matthew 18:21-35.


Verse 35 reveals both how the Lord forgives us and how we are to forgive one another. The Lord forgives us from his heart. He does not grudgingly forgive us. He is happy to forgive us and does so from the depths of Who He is. We, too, are to forgive from our hearts, not just outwardly. Do not withhold your love for the person you forgive!


Finally, let us consider what the consequences will be if we fail to forgive. The consequences are dire! In the parable Jesus concludes it this way:


34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” [5]


In the story the unforgiving servant goes to jail until his debt is paid. What does the jail represent? And, how is the debt paid? All the servants of the Lord are forgiven judicially. They will not find themselves in the Lake of Fire. The jail is a place of divine discipline during the age of the kingdom that is coming – the time between the first resurrection and the second resurrection described in Revelation chapter 20. It will last a long time – at least a thousand years! Our debt “will be paid” when we learn the importance of forgiveness through suffering.


Our Lord used strong words because he does not want his disciples to have to experience “jail.” Sadly, some will anyway.


Paul continues his admonition in our Colossian passage with:


14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [6]


Paul knew that the secret to forgiveness is loving one another. Love is not optional. We must love one another. The apostle John says that if we do not love the brothers and sisters then we have not even been born again! We are not Christians even if we believe the facts of the gospel. Demons believe the facts of the gospel. We must have a heart that loves Christ, follows Christ, and loves fellow servants.


This loving includes, especially includes, those who are closest to us. It’s actually easier to forgive those who we don’t see but once a week than it is to forgive someone with whom we have already established a close relationship. It is a strange phenomenon but true – that the more attached we are to someone the harder it is to forgive them! But, we must forgive our husbands and wives. We must forgive our fiancés. We must forgive our parents. We must forgive our children.


And when we forgive, it must be from the heart. That is, we forget what they have done and we love them as much as we did before, maybe more. If you do not forgive in this way then you have not forgiven! Let me repeat that because it is important: If you do not forgive in this way then you have not forgiven!


In conclusion then, all these beautiful attributes we can choose to put on:


  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Meekness
  • Patience
  • Bearing up
  • Willing to completely forgive and, what makes all these things actual:
  • Love


Get ready to have your account settled! And, you now know how to get ready! By putting on these wonderful things!




[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ch 11:26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (La 3:22–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] It is God who speaks through the apostles!

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 3:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 18:34–35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 3:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.