“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion…” Colossians 3:12
Every day. Every day we do it. Every day we wake up and we get dressed…we put on clothes. Though we often dress ourselves without even thinking about it, putting on clothes does serve a purpose. Clothes protect our bodies from the elements. If it’s cold outside, we dress in warmer clothes. If it is raining, we dress to stay dry. Certain clothes are also made for certain occasions. We have work clothes and play clothes, and school clothes, and special clothes to exercise in. Every day we put on clothes…and we put them on for a reason.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul compares our former or “old” life, with the “new” life we have in Christ. He reminds us that the new life we have in Christ should begin to look more and more like Christ, and less like the world. He lists things that we should put away or “take off” like malice, greed, and idolatry. Then in verse 12 of chapter 3, he challenges us to “put on heartfelt compassion”, among other things…that look like Jesus.
Put on. The Greek word for this is enduo…it means to “clothe yourself” or to “get dressed”.
Clothe yourselves with “heartfelt compassion”. The Greek translation for this term refers to a strong, emotional, “gut” feeling of mercy for others in their struggle. When we have this level of compassion for others, we are literally sharing their emotional pain. We are hurting with them.
We have learned that empathy is the ability, among other things, to “feel” with another person who is going through a difficult and even painful season or experience. This level of compassion is empathy. And Paul reminds us that when we wake up in the morning – every day – we are to clothe ourselves with heartfelt compassion just as we would put on a shirt. And we are to know that wearing compassion serves a purpose.
People all around us are hurting. The list of adjectives is extensive…heartbroken, diseased, hungry, oppressed, confused, betrayed, marginalized, outcast, lonely. As creatures made “new in Christ”, the first thing hurting people should see when they look at us is not a new shirt, or a new hat...but heartfelt compassion.
What you put on in the morning matters. There is a world that desperately needs to see us wearing something different. Are we dressing for the mirror, or for a broken and hurting world? How different would the landscape of our world look if everyone was clothed in compassion?
What if we all took off or put away pride, and hate, and anger, and selfishness. God, let it begin with us…
Prayer: Father, thank you that you looked at us and you were wearing heartfelt compassion. May we clothe ourselves in the same way. Amen.