12 You are God’s chosen people. You are holy and dearly loved. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. 13 Put up with one another. Forgive one another if you are holding something against someone. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these good things put on love. Love holds them all together perfectly as if they were one. 15 Let the peace that Christ gives rule in your hearts. As parts of one body, you were appointed to live in peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ live among you like a rich treasure. Teach and correct one another wisely. Teach one another by singing psalms and hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing to God with thanks in your hearts. 17 Do everything you say or do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Christ. 18 Wives, follow the lead of your husbands. That’s what the Lord wants you to do. 19 Husbands, love your wives. Don’t be mean to them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything. That pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, don’t make your children bitter. If you do, they will lose hope. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything. Don’t do it just to please them when they are watching you. Obey them with an honest heart. Do it out of respect for the Lord. 23 Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters. 24 Work because you know that you will finally receive as a reward what the Lord wants you to have. You are slaves of the Lord Christ. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be paid back for what they do. God treats everyone the same. 4 Masters, give your slaves what is right and fair. Do it because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
Cause and effect. This passage has lots of causes and effects.
Truly understanding that we are God’s dearly loved, chosen and holy people causes me to put on mercy, kindness and above all love; and to express that by not being proud, and being gentle, patient, tolerant and forgiving.
Having Christ’s word truly live in me fills my mouth with wise teaching, encouraging songs, and thankfulness.
This isn’t something shallow. I put these things on like clothes. Not a handkerchief to pull out if I need it; put on. Not things to put on selectively (“Will I wear pants today?”); but all of it. Not Christ’s word on a bit of paper, but dwelling in me richly.
The instructions that follow are an expression of the new nature that God gives me. My actions become an expression of a heart and mind that has been redeemed, set free and remade.
Recently the ABC (repeatedly) published a story about a man who had used verse 18 in isolation to manipulate his Christian wife into submitting to years of dreadful abuse. Ironically the journalist took this man’s abuse of both the Bible and his wife in isolation to attack all Christians and ultimately God. Both made me angry.
These instructions tell me how my transformed life should be expressed. They are not a stick to beat someone else with.
These instructions are not a menu to pick and choose what I like. A heart that has been transformed needs to transform my actions in every part of my life.
It has to start with my transformed heart.
So I’ll put on love and compassion for this poor abused woman. I’ll put on forgiveness towards this man and the ABC journalist. I’ll put on love towards my wife. … And when I slip up, I’ll put on humility in repenting (including to God whose name I dishonour when I act out my old nature again).
Written by David Cornell