I’m an accessory girl. I love purses, jewelry, scarves, and shoes. And I always make sure to have on my favorite accessories before leaving the house. I go through my mental checklist. Earrings on? Check. Watch on wrist? Check. Necklace, bracelet and ring all match? Check, check, check. I’m good to go…or am I?
I remember the day that I read Colossians 3:12 in the New International Version. It says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” This translation really struck me. It was the perfect word picture of what I should clothe myself in everyday – the most important accessories, if you will.
So, now I have this verse on my bathroom mirror to remind me of what to put on each day. It’s a visual reminder of my new mental checklist.
While I still love jewelry, purses, and shoes, I want to first make sure that I focus on clothing myself in these 5 accessories before I head out the door:
I will be honest here. Compassion does not come easily for me. I am more of a “fix it” kind of friend than a “cry on your shoulder” kind of friend. So learning to be compassionate is an on-going lesson for me. And what helps me is knowing the compassion that my heavenly Father has for me.
- “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth…” (Exodus 34:6)
- “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)
“Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.” (Psalm 116:5)
Compassion is defined as literally suffering with another; pity, and the showing of sympathy. It’s putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Jesus put himself in our shoes by becoming a man, enduring every kind of temptation, and suffering persecution, hardship, and ultimately death – the death that I deserve. That is the height of compassion – and he did it for me. How could I not show compassion to others?
By clothing myself in compassion, I can look for opportunities to put myself in others’ shoes and show them grace and love. With my husband, my children, and those I come in contact with throughout my day.
- Do I put myself in others’ shoes?
- Am I gracious and slow to anger?
- Do I show pity and sympathy when others are hurting or discouraged?
I love Noah Webster’s dictionary, because the definitions are so rich, and he even includes Scriptural examples of many words. He defines being kind as “showing tenderness or goodness; disposed (inclined) to do good and confer (bestow) happiness; averse to hurting or paining; benevolent; gracious.” Wow. I have so far to go when it comes to being kind. With this definition in mind, look at how God is kind toward us:
- “For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 117:2)
- “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.” (Psalm 63:3)
- “…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesian 2:7)
God shows us tenderness and goodness through the gift of His Son. He bestows on us happiness. He is averse to our hurt and pain. With the loving kindness God has shown me, I can show kindness to others each day.
- Do I show tenderness and goodness to others?
- Am I inclined to do good to others and bestow happiness on them?
- Am I averse to the hurts and pains of others?
Let’s be honest. It takes humility to clothe ourselves with these virtues. We cannot hope to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience if we are prideful. Noah Webster defined pride as, “inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, rank, etc., which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.” Pride thinks only of self. Humility thinks of others. Look at how our Lord Jesus demonstrated humility for us:
- “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:4-8)
- “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
- “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
When I look at how the Lord Jesus humbled himself, I am so convicted by my pride and selfishness. But by His grace and through the Holy Spirit’s power, I can clothe myself in humility.
- Do I look only to my own interests or also to the interest of others?
- Am I self-focused or others-focused?
- Do I serve others or expect to be served?
- “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
- “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)
- “You have also given me the shield of your salvation: and your gentleness has made me great.” (2 Samuel 22:36)
God has never been violent, rough, harsh, or stern with me. He is gentle, and in His gentleness I can find rest for my soul.
- Am I rough, harsh or stern with others?
- Am I loud or disturbing to those around me?
- Is my presence easy and soothing to those around me?
If we are clothing ourselves with the first 4 virtues, then we will find it much easier to practice patience. Mr. Webster did not disappoint with his lengthy definition of patience – “undergoing pains, trials, or the like without murmuring or fretfulness; expectant with calmness or without discontent; composed; calmly diligent.” There will always be someone or something with whom we will have to practice patience. And we can more readily practice patience when we understand how patient God is with us:
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
God’s patience led me to repentance. Because of His patience, I have a saving relationship with Him. Surely I can practice patience with the people and the problems in my life. And I can do so with joy and hope – “knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
- Do I go through my pains and trials without murmuring or being fretful?
- Do I exhibit a calm contentment in my life?
- Am I calm and composed in the way I relate to others?
I have a long way to go with these virtues, but I can prayerfully clothe and “accessorize” my heart each day with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience through the power of the Holy Spirit.
How about you? Which “accessory” do you need to wear more?
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