Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Colossians 3:12-13)
In Colossians chapter 3 the Apostle Paul wrote of the amazing work of God does in making His people new men (and women) in Jesus Christ. We are to put off the old man made after the pattern of Adam, and put on our new and true identity: the new man, made after the pattern of Jesus Christ.
That is an individual work that happens one by one. Yet those new men and women in Jesus are to live together in God’s family, and that means they have to learn how God wants the community of new people in Jesus to get along with each other.
Paul says that as we put on the new man, we also put on tender mercies, kindness, and humility. Don’t miss the fact that each one of the qualities listed here express themselves in relationships. An important measure of our Christian life is found simply in how we treat people and the quality of our relationships with them.
Paul didn’t include other virtues like efficiency, intelligence, diligence, or hard work. That wasn’t because those this are not important – they are. Yet God wanted to speak first to how we get along with our brothers and sisters in Jesus.
So, put on tender mercies. If something is tender, it is sensitive to touch. God wants us to be sensitive to each other, especially in our display of mercy.
So, put on kindness. This speaks of the attitude that holds my neighbor’s good as dear as my own good. It puts away harshness and looks to make things easier for others, not more difficult.
So, put on humility, which is something of a parent to both meekness and longsuffering. The humble person’s actions towards others will be marked by meekness, meaning that I will not dominate, manipulate, or coerce for my own ends, even if I have the power and the ability to do so. The humble person’s reactions will be marked by longsuffering, meaning that I will not become impatient, short, or filled with resentment towards the weaknesses and sins of others.
In all this, we are bearing with one another. We don’t abandon or give upon each other. We’re family, the new men and women called together into His family. One might be tempted to give up on strangers, but we’re family, all chosen together in Jesus.
New men and new women can only get along with each other as we put off the old, put on the new, and live like the new people God had made us. Make that your desire and prayer this very week.