I’ve been getting out my fall wardrobe as the weather turns a bit cooler, the wool dress jackets and blazers. Not ready for the down winter coats yet, but getting ready. I picked up the Our Daily Bread devotional for Wednesday, Sept 27 and read a devotion written by David Maccasland. He said he bought some new winter clothing, and the tag on winter clothing said, “Warning: This product will make you want to go outdoors and stay there.”
“When properly clothed for the climate, a person can survive and even thrive in harsh and changing weather conditions. David adds, “The same principle is true in our spiritual lives. As followers of Jesus, our all-weather spiritual wardrobe is described in Colossians 3,” “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…The Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
Clothing ourselves with these garments allows us to survive changing life conditions. They help us to weather the storms of life. When the storms come– some of you have already been through some horrendous storms in your life. If you have not had any storms yet, you will. As sure as it will snow here this winter, I can guarantee there will be storms in your life!
Yet, we remember that as Christians we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Do you know how loved you are by God? How precious you are to Him?
When I was thinking about being dearly loved by God I began to think about the season we are enjoying right now, the autumn.
I do quite a bit of driving and I watch the colors change. At first I noticed the reds, they seem to have fallen now and the more muted yellows and oranges seem to have taken over. I really like when the autumn colors are reflected in water. Sunday Lake in Wakefield is particularly beautiful when the sun is shining and the autumn colors are reflected in the lake. There is this river I drive over between Bergland and Wakefield that is particularly beautiful with the trees hanging over the bank. In autumn the colored leaves fall into the water and ride down the river on the current.
When my eyes behold all the beauty we enjoy in our area, I think to myself, what a wonderful world! I think that this area is clothed in God’s love, especially in the fall of the year!
I began to contemplate what the Apostle Paul means, ‘to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.’
Compassion – What does it look like to be clothed in compassion? – People in grief groups, who have outgrown their need for such a group, yet stay in the group because they can help someone else with their grief. I see compassion in nurses and doctors who work long hours, because the suffering of others hurts their hearts. Just recently, the people who are leaving their homes and using vacation time from their jobs to help the victims of the hurricanes.
Jesus is our model for compassion. In Mark 1 we read of a man with leprosy coming to Jesus and Jesus was ‘moved with compassion,’ and reached out and healed the man.
In Mark 6, Jesus goes off with his disciples to a quiet place and a large crowd follows them, -and ‘Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.’
Kindness – What does it look like to be clothed in kindness? Taking the time to smile at a weary store clerk, holding the door for someone, visiting with a shut-in, sending a sympathy card, or a get-well card; taking the time to notice what another person needs and meeting that need.
I was behind a lady in the grocery store line, who was behind a tired young mother.
When the young mother didn’t have quite enough to pay for her groceries and was trying to decide what to put back, the older woman gave the store clerk the amount needed, and I watched as the young mother’s eyes filled with tears as she said ‘thank you.’ This is what being clothed in kindness looks like.
Humility – what does it look like to be clothed in humility? We all know people who are all about making sure everyone knows when they do something and they want credit for what they do. Humility to me is doing something and not caring who gets the credit. Paying someone’s bill anonymously. Backing down from an argument, even when you know you’re right, yet backing down just to keep the peace and keep the relationship, because relationships are more important than being right. Jesus was the example of humility, Paul writes in Philippians 2, “He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Jesus was the God of creation and yet out of His love for us, He died that we may live! This is humility.
Gentleness – What does it look like to be clothed in gentleness? We all know people who have a gentle manner. Who treat themselves and others in a gentle way. I see this in some of the nursing homes I visit. Most of the people who work there are gentle spirits. The treat the residents with a gentleness that says, ‘I care about you. You are important.’
Patience – What does it look like to be clothed in patience. If you’ve been married, raised children, worked with people, or even have had pets. You know that life tests our patience! I’ve always found when I pray ‘God, give me patience.’ He gives me more of a challenge, so I can learn to be more patient! For some people learning patience is a difficult challenge.
Bind all these attitudes together with love. This is the key to being a representative of the Lord Jesus. Jesus was God’s love with skin on. Jesus spoke our language, looked us in the eye, touched us and healed us, taught us about God’s amazing love and grace, and taught us how to love one another, by his example. This is what it means to clothe ourselves with love.
I leave you with a question. Do others know you’re a Christian by the clothes you wear? Those clothes being compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Do you do everything in love? God does. Even when he disciplines us, he does it in love. I see the colors of autumn as our area being clothed in God’s love. What colors do others see in you? Do others see you as being clothed in love?
Pastor Rosemary DeHut