“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
This is the first verse of several verses of scripture that I often read at weddings. The whole section includes verses 12-17 and I encourage you to take a minute to read that section today. This letter presents a strong image of the lordship of Christ, throughout the whole of creation and in the church. This particular section focuses on the optimal behavior of those who would follow Christ.
“Clothe yourselves” is a key phrase in this section. It indicates that these qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience are things with which we are to be intentional. I don’t know about you but I am very intentional about the clothes I choose to wear to work through the week. My husband laughs at me because I tell him I can’t fall asleep at night if I don’t know what I am going to wear in the morning.
The qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience are qualities that we are invited to develop as followers of Christ. Some will be easier for us than others. Yet, we are invited to clothe ourselves with these qualities, as the situation requires. These qualities don’t just magically appear in our lives, just as we don’t wake up dressed and ready for the day. They are cultivated, learned, and most importantly, used by us in all of our relationships. Sometimes putting on these qualities can feel like putting on a too tight pair of jeans. Still Jesus asks us to put them on. They are of critical importance in a marriage relationship and in a family, around a Session table, and in a congregation. Others will know to whom we belong not only by our love but also by our compassion and kindness, our humility and meekness, and our patience in every situation. These qualities in our lives will lead to the peace of God ruling in our hearts and they will lead to an attitude of thanksgiving.
I am particularly filled with gratitude on this Tuesday because it is my 35th wedding anniversary. I was married in the sanctuary of First Pres. The Rev. Lance Clenard presided at the ceremony as well as Dr. Harry Thompson who had just arrived as the new Head of Staff. Ken and I do not have a perfect marriage nor are we the perfect family. We have had more ups than downs and more joys than sorrows. Together we have a combined ministry of almost 70 years. We have raised three children as well as three dogs, three cats, a rabbit, and more than few gerbils and hamsters. We have lived in four homes, in three states. We have served a combined seven churches, three nursing homes, and one position at the Headquarters in Louisville. What has made all of this possible is the love of God planted in our hearts, our faith in God and in each other, and our decision to wear the clothing of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience every day. We have also done a lot of “bearing with one another” (verse 13).
Our church, our country, and our individual relationships will be healthier if we remember these things with which we are to clothe ourselves. Be intentional in your kindness and compassion. Live into humility, meekness, and patience. None of us will ever do all of these things perfectly, yet just imagine a world in which we are intentionally trying to live with each other in these ways. What a world that will be!