12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. 4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
Christ’s death and resurrection fundamentally change our relationship with the world and each other.
We “clothe” ourselves in that new life as a conscious decision. It starts with changing my heart towards others – putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. That leads to changing how I act towards people – bearing with them and forgiving – especially those who are hard to bear or need forgiveness for harming or offending me. Then I cover it all with love. This brings unity both between God’s people and between my heart and actions in a life of integrity. Because I can’t do this on my own, I need to let Christ work in my life – letting his peace rule my heart and his message dwell richly in me. Because I need lots of help, we need to encourage each other and sometimes teach and correct. This is fullness of life lived with Christ in expectation of good things worthy of thanks to God.
Paul shows how this plays out in the relationships that are closest at hand – the family. In the first century, the head of the family literally had absolute power of life and death over his slaves and children and effectively over his wife. Christ fundamentally changes those relationships. Reversing things, Paul honours the person in the weak position by addressing them first, asking them to willingly give what would usually be taken. The father is told to replace power with love, encouragement and care. This was radical in the first century. Thankfully fathers no longer have either that power or slaves. But there are still far too many relationships of all sorts dominated by manipulation or abuse of power.
Jesus, I want to step into new life in you. Transform my heart and mind to act out your love. I want to work with you to bring your grace and love to all relationships around me.
Written by David Cornell