Many years ago, I visited one of our African missionaries. Like many of our missionaries, he had taken in many orphans. It’s fairly common for children who are abused, orphaned or neglected to be taken to the homes of pastors. The community feels it is the safest thing for these children. Our pastors struggle enough just to provide for their own families, but they never turn them away.
These pastor’s homes become orphanages and they struggle just to make ends meet and when an emergency happens, they rarely have the means to respond.
I “happened” upon one such emergency when I was visiting our missionary. One of the orphan girls had an emergency. She was an older teen who was extremely helpful in the home and ministry. Her smile was contagious and singing in the choir was her love.
But a disease began to cause her teeth to begin to fall out. The smile disappeared, and the singing ceased. She was too embarrassed. The pastor’s family grieved the sadness this girl felt, and she was now needing to have the rest of the teeth removed due to the pain. The solution to her problem was a surgery and dentures in the future.
I asked what the cost of the whole procedure would be and discovered I had enough with me to cover it entirely. I gave our pastor the money and asked him to keep it quiet, but subsequent visits over the years made it obvious he hadn’t. Every trip I make, she is the first one to visit me and she is referred to as my “daughter.” I love to see that she is back in the choir. She smiles ear to ear every time I see her and loves to serve me and care for me when I visit. She serves the other guests as well, but her love for me is, well special… and obvious. I chose her and she chose me!
In Colossians 3:8 we talked about using the enemy’s tools, which Paul said we ought to “put off.” So it is appropriate to discuss what we ought to “put on.”
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. KJV Col.3:12
In my Greek classes, the word translated “therefore” was always highlighted. My professor would say “whenever you see ‘therefore’, you better find out what it is ‘there for!’” Paul clearly was highlighting what was about to be said. But the “put on” was about to be given substantially more implications due to their special relationship: elect, holy and loved. Chosen personally, set apart, and specially loved are how Paul described these Believers. It would be hard to ignore that with those special distinctions come equally special responsibilities.
It’s impossible to possess anger towards someone with “bowels of mercy”, or compassion that makes you feel it physically in your stomach. To feel it to this extent is the deepest sense of mercy and I’m afraid few of us have felt it this intensely to our shame.
It’s impossible to have wrath or malice towards someone when kindness, the reflection of God’s grace, is what fills us.
And it’s impossible to let blasphemy and filthy communication come from the same person who is humble, meek, and longsuffering.
In fact, it is impossible and thus unnecessary to “take off” any of the bad habits, or tools mentioned previously, if we are already clothed with the special clothes we have been given as one “set apart and deeply loved.”
Let’s be sure to honor the privileged place we hold in the sight of God by continually and characteristically displaying that which he has given us to put on. Let’s honor Him by choosing Him in this similar fashion to how He chose us!
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
March 22, 2022