“Be Ye Clothed”

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.” —Colossians 3:12

THE APOSTLE PAUL, in writing to the brethren at Colosse, addressed them as “holy brethren” in the opening words of his epistle. His words were: “Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, and Timothy, the brother, to the holy and faithful brethren in Christ at Colosse; favor and peace to you from God our Father. Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and that love which you have for all the saints.”—Col. 1:1-3, Wilson’s Diaglott

As we know, the Apostle Paul was engaged in the work of finding a people for God’s name. It was through this endeavor that he became further acquainted with the Colossian brethren and was, no doubt, greatly instrumental in organizing them into an ecciesia.

We notice that Paul referred to them as ‘holy brethren’ and as ‘saints’. Saints are those who have been separated out of the world for the holy purpose of being part of the ‘body of Christ’. In this epistle, the Apostle Paul tells of their great appreciation for this privilege, and gives advice as to how they could succeed in their calling.

The words, “be ye clothed,” are taken from the Wilson’s Diaglott rendering of Colossians 3:12, which reads, “Be ye clothed, therefore, as chosen ones of God, beloved saints, with bowels of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patient endurance.”

We are reminded of this expression when we read the words of the Apostle Peter: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation for the conduct] of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”—I Pet. 3:1-6

Women usually take great care when they adorn themselves. And men, also, choose and wear clothes that fit well and look good, with the desire to be presentable to others. The Apostle Peter emphasized that wearing jewelry and other decorative accessories is not necessary to be attractive and pleasing to God or to our Lord Jesus, or even to each other. Peter advises, “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on of apparel. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”—I Pet. 3:3,4

The more important adornments we should seek to wear are mercy, meekness, longsuffering, kindness and patience. Paul used the expression, ‘bowels of mercy’. This phrase emphasizes that mercy is something that should have depth. It must not be superficial in any way. In God’s Holy Word we learn concerning his character that he is merciful. One passage which gives revealing testimony by our Lord Jesus about his Heavenly Father is Luke 6:35,36. Here we find the instructions: “Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your. Father also is merciful.”

We also find this admonition given to us in the Old Testament. Here it is spoken of as an adornment, or of a necklace that is worn. In Proverbs 3:3 we read, “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.” Wear mercy and truth around your neck like jewelry so that everybody can see their beauty. Mercy and truth reflect the character of our Father which is in heaven, just as beautiful cut gems reflect the light.

Whenever we think of our Heavenly Father, his four cardinal attributes come to mind. And one of these is justice. We know that Jehovah is a God of justice, but we also are assured in his Word that coupled with justice there is always the matter of mercy. In the 89th Psalm and the 14th verse it is written, “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” And we have certainly proved in life’s experiences that this is so.

Therefore as we seek to imitate God, let us not think to do it only by imitating his justice, but also by tempering justice with mercy, as God does. In trying to execute justice it is obvious that man can only judge the acts that he sees another person do. However, God can judge the motive, or the intention of the heart. Jesus gave us this good advice in the 6th chapter of Luke. He said, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.” If you should make a judgment, then “condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned.” Then he taught us the positive action to take: “Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Being merciful is to be forgiving.

Another item of clothing we have to put on is kindness. Kindness is very closely related to mercy. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word checed can be translated either mercy or kindness. In our English Bibles it has been translated half the time as mercy, and half the time as kindness. We have to show forth kindness at every opportunity. It has been said that there is no excuse for us to be unkind. The Apostle Paul advises us: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32) If we would only do this, how nice it would be, not only for everyone else, but for ourselves as well!

God is often spoken of as being merciful and kind. For instance: “Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.” (Joel 2:13) Again in Jonah 4:2 we read: “He prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, … for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” We must be like our Heavenly Father. We should desire to have the same adornments of character.

A description of the next article of clothing that we have to put on is given in I Peter 5:5, where we are told that we must be humble in mind: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” James has the same thing to say in James 4:6,10: “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. … Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

In Proverbs 18:12, we read “Before honor is humility.” In Philippians 2:3-8 the Apostle Paul, using our Lord Jesus as an example, wrote: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery [or did not ‘meditate a usurpation’, Wilson’s Diaglott] to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Again he wrote: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (II Cor. 8:9) We could never fully appreciate what it meant to Jesus to leave his heavenly estate as the Logos and come to earth to be humiliated, scoffed at, smitten, and killed—to humble himself even to the death of the cross. How beautifully Jesus was clothed with humility, and what blessed consequences his practice of this precious quality has brought to us and all mankind. Let us also humble ourselves to God’s holy will and wonderful results will accrue.

Another part of our adornment is a meek and quiet spirit. (I Pet. 3:1-6) Jesus spoke of this too, in Matthew 11:28-30. He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Sometimes meekness is incorrectly associated with weakness. We could consider somebody who can be stepped upon as not firm enough. The world does not have much respect, for a meek person. Yet Jesus, who was meek and lowly of heart, invites us to learn of him. Matthew 11:25 are also Jesus’ words: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

The word meekness means ‘mild’—not aggressive. When we study our Lord Jesus and his life, we see how he was meek, and we learn how we must act in order to imitate his meekness. In this way we will be able to ‘know the Father’. Jesus said, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matt. 11:27) Let us also put on the robe of meekness!

There is a final article of clothing that has been mentioned, which we also, like our Lord Jesus, and our Heavenly Father, wear, and that is longsuffering. Longsuffering is translated in Wilson’s Diaglott, as “patient endurance.” Why is this quality so necessary? As an answer to this question we refer to the account of how Moses went up into the mount to receive the second set of the tables of the Law. We read about the thrilling experience he had when he asked to see God’s glory! The Lord granted his request. He passed by him, and gave him a glimpse of his hind parts. Here was recorded that most beautiful refrain: “The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands [a thousand generations], forgiving iniquity … of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:6,7) Longsuffering! This is an outstanding characteristic of God!

When we get up in the morning, having dressed, we might ask some family member, “How do I look?” But we might keep in mind, also, the question, “How do I look to God?” In God’s sight, that which is most important is the adornment of our hearts and minds with the fruit and graces of the Holy Spirit. The putting on of mercy, putting on of kindness, adorning ourselves with humility of mind, the necklaces and bracelets of meekness, and longsuffering, will make us most attractive in God’s estimation. Then we can step back, and ask the Heavenly Father, “How do I look?”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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