September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”—Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Have you ever heard the expression, “Dress for the job you want”? It’s a common saying that encourages a person to look and act the part. And while I’m not exactly sure how effective that advice is in the workplace, it’s excellent advice for the Christian life!
In today’s passage, Paul encourages believers to dress for the job and calling God has placed on each of our lives: for us to be a minister of reconciliation and Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:17–21)! Now, this isn’t something we have to aspire to become, so we’re not exactly dressing for the job we want. This is the incredible privilege God has already gifted us with as His dearly-loved children, and today’s passage encourages us to live up to that calling by clothing ourselves in the attire of an ambassador of Christ.
So, what does it look like to dress for this job? Paul tells us it looks like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. As we continue our examination of fruits of the Spirit, we’re going to hone in on kindness today. So, the question becomes, “What does it look like to clothe ourselves with kindness?”
Well, first let’s examine what the word even means! In essence, it means practical, useful, profitable, or serviceable goodness. It’s literally the goodness of God in action! It’s not just an attitude of niceness as we have come to see it today—the term refers to meeting real needs. It’s the goodness produced in us by the Holy Spirit which is poured out of us to meets the needs of others by serving others, while also abstaining from human cruelty or mercilessness.
So, where do we learn how to live this way? We look to Jesus, to His life, His ministry, and His interactions as recorded in the Gospels. I think of His interactions with the woman at the well in John 4, the woman caught in adultery in John 8, Zacchaeus in Luke 19, and the leper in Matthew 8. I see it in His restoration of Peter after the resurrection. When you read the Gospels, the kindness of Jesus as expressed through His actions and interactions truly did lead people to repentance. It drew people to Him—and the same is true today! That’s why Romans 2:4 (BSB) says, “God’s kindness leads you to repentance.”
So then, to clothe ourselves with kindness means to do good to others, to exhibit generosity in a gentle and loving manner, and to serve others with a joyful heart, all of which points them to the grace of God in Christ. The early church displayed kindness in their generosity, compassion, and care for widows, orphans, and the poor. The earliest Christians understood that even in a context where they were the persecuted minority, it was their mission to dress for their God-given calling by living out a radical love, charity, and compassion that drew people to salvation.
This was what they were known for, so much so that in the 4th century the Roman emperor Julian noted that the explosive growth of the church was caused by their “moral character” and by “their benevolence toward strangers,” even noting that “The [Christians] support not only their poor, but ours as well.”
May we, too, be a people eager to clothe ourselves in the kindness of Christ that casts a wide net and draws all people to our kind Savior.
Pause: What does it look like for the believer to be clothed in kindness?
Practice: Who can you show kindness to today? Pray about someone whom the Lord is calling you to demonstrate His kindness to and then get dressed and go do some useful and serviceable good for them in the name of Jesus!
Pray: Father, thank You for this wonderful privilege and calling, this job of ambassador that I get to dress for each and every day. Thank You for giving me an example of how to clothe myself in Your wonderful character traits and for giving me the gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches me, guides me, and transforms me to live up to this calling. May I be a beacon of kindness to those around me so they may be drawn to You who sent Your only Son to rescue me from sin and death. There’s no more useful or serviceable goodness than Your grace, which is in Christ. To You be the glory. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.