Summary: Our verse gives the essential piece necessary to make all the other articles match.

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Colossians 3:14 Essential Dress Wear

1/11/15 D. Marion Clark


The school where I once served as a principal had not only a dress code but uniforms which all students must wear. And yet, though they all wore the same clothes, their clothes did not all look the same on the students. Neat students wore their uniforms neatly; slovenly students wore their uniforms slovenly. Something more was needed to make students look distinguished as the code was intended to do. They needed the right attitude.

Last week we studied verses 12-13 to learn what is considered the proper church dress code. It included putting on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness. It is a sharp dress code. Even so, these articles of clothing are not enough by themselves to complete the image intended. Our verse this morning gives the essential piece necessary to make all the other articles match. It presents the right attitude.


And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

There are two advantages of having my wife choose what I wear – my clothes match and are appropriate for the occasion. I can select a nice pair of pants, a clean shirt, a fashionable ties, sharp shoes, and a good fitting coat jacket. My challenge is putting all of these articles together so that they match and complement one another. Likewise, I might even get them to match only to find out they are not appropriate for the event I am attending.

That is the Apostle Paul’s concern for the Christians in the Colossae church. He has a solution. He knows of one more piece that will automatically fit all the clothing articles together, no matter the occasion.

put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony

Love not only goes with everything; it makes everything else look good and match together.

This verse reminds me of the old Coca-Cola commercial: “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Paul wants to teach the church to wear clothes in perfect harmony, and the primary ingredient is not a soda beverage but the trait of love – agape love, that unique New Testament word for Christ-like love.

Love is what allows the other traits to accomplish what is intended for them. Without love, a compassionate heart simply weeps out of pity. The compassionate person goes through lots of tissues without really helping or even showing the kind of compassion the one who is grieving actually wants. We have been around such persons. We would prefer not getting their visit or phone call because of their dramatic display. They seem to be more caught up in their emotion than in how we are responding to their performance. Love restrains compassion from excessiveness, so that it is directed to mourning with those who mourn, rather than using another’s grief to indulge in an emotional display.

Love is what guides kindness, so that, rather it being composed of random acts, it is intentional, truly caring for the individual it is directed toward. It would seem that kindness and love are the same, but without love kindness can be just what the well-intended bumper sticker promotes – random. The random acts might do good, but they are generated more by what the “kind” person likes to do rather than what the receiver actually wants or needs. Like compassion, kindness can be smothering if not done in love.

Without love humility turns precisely into the smarmy, servile caricature that repels rather than is winsome. Of all the virtuous traits, none are made more odious than humility that is lacking in love. But with love, humility actually does put the interests of others first sincerely, so that attention is given to what is best for the other.

Similar to humility, meekness without love turns the wearer into a person who lacks substance. He or she simply wants to be agreeable, but instead of being so they come across as mere people-pleasers. The result is that they please no one, even coming off as being hypocrites, more concerned for how they are perceived. Love gives substance to meekness so that the wearer is seen as a person of integrity and self-assurance, who shows respect to persons of all status. He or she is a person who can turn the other cheek precisely because of being strong and confident in the Lord.

Patience without love is little more than emotional self-control. It keeps the wearer under self-restraint in public, but privately and inwardly is seething in bitterness. He or she has mastered their emotions, not how they actually regard those they find offensive. It is only in love that patience recognizes the worth of others who cause them offense.

Forgiveness with love? It is a mere show. It is a forgiveness that never forgets the sin of the sinner, always ready to bring up the sin again. “Forget about it” means don’t bring up the matter with me because I am never going to forget. It is love that covers a multitude of sins so that forgiveness is accompanied with healing.

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