Previously, I posted about “The Five Vices” listed in Colossians 3:5. It was pretty much a buzzkill for me all day as I wrote it, so today I wanted to share about the more encouraging flip side of The Five Vices~The Five Virtues~listed just a paragraph down in the Scriptures.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
In these verses, Paul is reminding the Colossians who they are: God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.
Let’s be clear: it had nothing to do with the Colossians or their innate characteristics. He chose them. They were holy and set apart because of Jesus, dearly loved because of God—not because they were lovable or holy in and of themselves. In light of this truth, Paul insists they clothe themselves with The Five Virtues.
What stands true for them then stands true for us now. We need new clothes, too!
Rosenborg Castle of King Christian IV, Copenhagen, Denmark
It’s as if we, who are former street urchins and beggars and thieves and prostitutes and murderers, are brought into the castle, cleaned up, and outfitted with clothes befitting royalty. Since we are now given a title, we are expected to act like what that title implies. A “Prince” acts princely. A “Lady”—well, she acts like a lady. “Children of God” follow what their Father tells them in God’s Word to do and act like Jesus.
However, the difficulty is in the battlefield of the mind—we still think like street urchins, beggars, thieves, prostitutes, and murderers. So Paul is describing to us the picture we should have in our heads about the qualities we should exhibit to look more like our Savior.
THE FIVE VIRTUES:
Compassion: deep sensitivity to the needs of others that affects one’s innermost being. This implies a heart-changing, mind-changing, behavior-changing sensitivity to others.
Kindness: (chréstotés in Greek) well-fit for use, serviceable, meeting real needs in God’s way, in God’s timing; the Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids human harshness (cruelty). If I were from the Deep South, I could perhaps term it “The Art of Being a Dear.”
Humility: Christlike attitude towards oneself, readiness to forego one’s own rights (the same characteristic that led Jesus to the cross) for the benefit of others.
Gentleness: This is how we APPROACH other people. It culmination of the first three virtues (compassion, kindness and humility) walked out in real time.
Patience: How we REACT to other people and it is again combining compassion, kindness and humility.
(Man, is this not brilliant? I don’t know about you, but this truly helps me understand these characteristics better. Commentaries and dictionaries rock my socks, People!)
Compassion, Kindness, Humility are at the Core. Gentleness and Patience flow from them to others, but it’s bound together in harmony through Forgiveness and Love.
The take-away point is this: Our behavior toward one another matters. As a result of our belief in God and what Jesus has done, our behavior needs to reflect that belief. And the reasoning behind WHY we do it is found in the latter part of the verses above:
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Forgiveness. Jesus forgave you and me. It’s unthinkable knowing all we have done to betray Him.
Love. It binds all the characteristics together in perfect unity which binds us as believers together in unity. It’s the personification of God.
As I am really considering these Five Virtues, I am convicted that I do not live these out like I should in all areas with all the people in my life. I need to do better; I have a long way to go.