New identity- new character
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‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’
There is the story of a young boy who was being bullied in the school playground because some of the other children had recently discovered that he had been adopted. After some teasing and pushing he eventually rounded on them and said, ‘Well, at least my parents chose me, yours had no option!’. That boy had tapped into something very important. There is a special value in being chosen. Not that you are chosen because you are special but being chosen makes you special. Paul is saying that is what has happened to us. God who owns the whole universe has decided to own a people, making them his special possession in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul adds something else which is spectacularly stunning, namely, that Christians are ‘dearly loved’. There is a burning intensity which moves within the very depths of God’s being when he looks upon his people through the filter of his Son. This is who we are, our identity - the object of gut-churning divine love (that is the word used).
As a consequence we are to take on a new character, ‘… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience’.
Of course all of these virtues are embodied in one man in particular- the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who said, ‘I believe that there is nothing lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, more rational, more manly, and more perfect than the Saviour; I say to myself with jealous love that not only is there no one else like Him, but that there could be no one.’ Why did he say that? Because he was entranced by the character of Christ who saw a poor widow weeping by her only son’s coffin and who, moved with deep compassion, raised him from the dead; who gently took Jairus’ daughter by the hand and raised her to life; who in humility wrapped a towel around his waist to wash the grime-ingrained feet of his disciples; who from the cross saw his distressed mother and in an act of kindness called for a disciple to take care of her; and who showed patience by putting up with the taunts and beatings of the Roman soldiers rather than retaliating. Here Paul is saying that we are to put on each one of these virtues every day of our lives as we would carefully put on an individual item of clothing each morning, holding them in place with the all-embracing over-garment of love (v14).
My Lord and most High God, I approach you as Father and Friend, Redeemer and King, my Beginning and End. I thank you for my adoption, bestowing upon me the robes of Christ, your Son. I thank you for my sanctification, the transforming work of your Spirit which fosters and shapes in me your heavenly virtues. May I this day rejoice in my identity and live out your love. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.