I used to think that once you become a Christian, all the virtues and the goodness the Bible says we must live out are instantaneously given to us, like in a moment we are simply transformed into a good person. But what I’m starting to realize – and what the Bible even teaches us – is that walking out all these things is actually a process and a work Jesus invites us all to partake in.
There are many scriptures in the Bible that instruct us in the way of Jesus. But I want to focus on Colossians 3 because I believe it makes the point I want to make so succinctly:
So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…”
In the whole chapter of Colossians 3, Paul instructs believers of how they should be living out their lives using this imagery of putting on and taking off. He starts with the things we should take off: pride, lust, impurity, greed, and then ends with what we need to put on: kindness, gentleness, humility. Some versions even translate these verses as clothing yourself in these things.
I believe that this imagery Paul uses is exactly my point on how we must live out our faith. You see, we must CHOOSE to take off and we must CHOOSE to put on. These things don’t happen accidentally and they don’t happen without our action. The only way I am able to put on my coat is if I choose to perhaps take off the sweatshirt I am wearing and put on the coat I want to wear. It is my intentionality and decisive choice in order to do so.
I believe it is the same for these virtues Paul lists out. We must constantly choose to put on compassion, choosing to show compassion to others and choosing to see the world through the lens of compassion. Perhaps we’ve been wearing a coat of hard-heartedness, perhaps its been something put on us by someone else. We sometimes don’t have a choice for when things are put on us, but we do have a choice for taking them off.
I also want to end with this – the Holy Spirit is our ever present help and is there to guide us in our taking off and putting on. Perhaps putting on compassion isn’t the easiest thing to do because you’ve never been shown compassion before. That is where the Holy Spirit can come and shower you with God’s compassion so you can receive it for yourself. He will fill your heart with compassion so you can move forward and make intentional choices to choose acts of compassion even in those moments if you don’t feel like it. All we must do is to make the choice to put it on and God will help with the rest.
In this journey and process, we will being to see ourselves clothed in something beautiful that looks a lot like Jesus. And we will begin to be able to start showing up in our day to day life differently, being able to impact people from our daily interactions because we will have compassion and mercy and humility covering those interactions. We will begin to live out the life we were meant to live, loving people and showing them who God really is.