Colossians 3:12

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; Colossians 3:12

Paul has just given a list of categories, in the previous verse, where one in any category is no longer lifted above another in any other category. All are on an equal basis before God because of Christ. For this reason, Paul says, “Therefore.” As all are on this same equal level in Christ, there should be a resulting understanding of this, which is followed through with an equal respect for all.

In confirmation of this, he says, “as the elect of God.” In other words, any who have received Christ – whether Greek, Jew, circumcised, uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free – any such category, each person is one of the “elect of God.” The idea of being elect signifies privilege. All have the same rights and benefits, and each is “holy and beloved.” Charles Ellicott states, “The elect are ‘holy,’ consecrated to God in thought and life; and ‘beloved,’ accepted and sustained in their consecration by His love.” As every person in Christ bears these traits, we are not to look down on any other who is in Christ.

Rather, we are to “put on tender mercies.” Vincent’s Word Studies call this “a heart of compassion.” We are to be compassionate towards our fellow believers, not ignoring their needs because of some supposed difference which would otherwise lesson them in our eyes.

Likewise we are to put on “kindness.” This is “the Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids human harshness” (HELPS Word-Studies).

Paul follows next with “humility.” The believer is to be humble in spirit, not raising himself above others, but instead giving preference to others, submitting to them and their needs and desires.

After that he notes “meekness.” It is the gentle and mild attitude where a person receives another with an open heart and an easy-going disposition.

He finishes the verse with “longsuffering.” This is a trait which displays the willingness to put up with another despite their faults. It is patience without exasperation, and it is even allowing one to overlook the wrongs committed towards oneself by another.

Life application: Bearing the traits Paul notes in this verse takes time and effort, but it is right that we work on them because those who are in Christ are also the elect. We are not raised above them, and they are not raised above us. Rather we are equal as we stand in relation to one another. And so let us do our best to act in the manner we have been exhorted to act in these words.

Lord God, help us to live out the truth that all who are in Christ are on the same level. There are none greater or lesser, but all are elect. Because of this, help us to display qualities of gentleness, longsuffering, kindness, and humility toward our fellow brothers and sisters. May we never exalt ourselves over one another, but display a gracious attitude towards each other at all times. Amen.

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