If you live in a cold climate, you’ll know that getting dressed to go outside in winter can be quite an operation.
This is particularly true if you have children. Getting your little one bundled up warmly enough to brave the frigid temperatures outside can take a great deal of time.
First, you have to make sure they have warm underclothes and socks on. Then, you might dress them in layers of several tops, and select pants made of warm, thick material.
Once you’ve put their winter coat or snowsuit on them, you’re not done yet. There’s still their boots, hat, scarf, and mittens to don.
And then what inevitably happens when you’ve finally wrestled a recalcitrant child into all their winter gear, and are poised to leave the house?
Your little darling suddenly announces that they have to go to the bathroom!
Dressing in layers takes a lot more time and effort, but it’s essential to ensure that we’re kept warm and protected in winter.
Similarly, Scripture tells us to dress in spiritual “layers” as well.
Colossians 3:12 describes the “clothes” that believers should make sure they don each day. These articles of clothing aren’t so much for our own benefit as for others.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
In the same way that we ensure we’re equipped with our winter gloves and hat before we leave the house, we should also double-check that we’ve put on the sorts of virtues that protect the feelings and dignity of others.
Believers should have the reputation of being amiable and easy to get along with, not prickly and harsh. When others converse with us, it should have the same effect as if they’d brushed up against something soft and gentle.
Even if we need to be firm with a friend who is acting in a hurtful manner or draw a boundary with a loved one who is falling into sin, we can still act with kindness and gentleness.
How do we do so? Let’s look at the next verse of Colossians 3:
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
A key to treating others with compassion and patience is to remember that you had a lot of faults and sins that needed forgiving, too. When someone has wronged you, keep in mind that it probably won’t be too long before the shoe is on the other foot, and you’ll be in the position of needing to ask for someone’s forgiveness. Knowing this truth should keep us humble.
What is the final layer of clothing that these verses tell us to dress in?
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:14)
Like a snowsuit that covers everything else, we should wrap all our character traits and behaviours up in love. In this way, we will most closely resemble what our Father in Heaven is wearing, because God is love.
In the same way that a person who habitually wears a favourite red coat can be identified from a distance, God’s unchanging attribute of love makes Him instantly recognizable.
It’s His trademark look, as it were.
The more we demonstrate love to others, the more we take after our Heavenly Father, who showed His extravagant love for all of us at the Cross.
So if you want to be the best dressed person at any gathering, make sure you put on love as your final layer!
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.