“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14
The clothing one wears can draw out someone’s distinction or difference from other groups or professions. Athletes have uniforms they wear that fit the activity they are involved in. Sales people, business executives, and in a bygone era, pastors might be identified by wearing a dress shirt and tie or even a suit. Youth and children who attend private school are often set apart by the uniform they are required to wear when attending. We also have this tendency as humans to size people up by the way they dress or what style of clothing they wear. I’m not saying it’s right to do that, but just that it is what we often do. We can often make judgments about others based on how they adorn their bodies.
I believe there is a dress code for those who believe in Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about a physical dress code. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of getting hung up on those externals that some believers are known for. No, I’m talking about how the believer adorns his or her heart. In Colossians 3:14 we are commanded to put on, to adorn our hearts with love. Christian love is the garment that distinguishes the Church from the world.
There are many accessory pieces to this garment of love that are found in Colossians chapter 3: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness. But the chief garment above all of these is love because love binds the entire outfit together in complete unity. Without Christian love none of the rest of the pieces fit or are even possible.
Other passages attest to the reality that love is the characteristic garment of every believer.
Ephesians 4:3 – “…bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
1 Thessalonians 5:8-9 – “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to salvation…”
The love of Christ…the love demonstrated by Christ in his humility and in his sacrificial death is the characteristic love that every Christian is to put on and for which every local church is to be distinguished. The unbelieving world ought to see the bold and brazen display of the sacrificial, self-denying, Christ-exalting, others-focused love that Jesus showed for us. When this kind of love is put on by each Christian in the church, the body of Christ will exhibit spiritual health, spiritual growth, spiritual maturity. The body will be nourished and nurtured, equipped and growing.
Healthy Christians are adorned in love. Healthy churches are known by their love for one another. This is not a weak love, but a love that’s rooted in the truth of scripture and the grace and mercy of God. Jesus revealed grace and truth as he demonstrated love for humanity. He is the perfect manifestation, the exact imprint of the Person of God (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, those who seek to follow Jesus must always be students of Jesus, learning and growing into his likeness and adorning our hearts in the love with which he loved us when we were weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies toward him.
Where would we be today without knowing the love of God towards us? Seriously think about the possible answers to that question. Then consider that we live in a world that desperately needs the exact kind of love that we needed and still need…the kind of love that only the Lord offers. I’m challenged today to adorn my soul with Christian love and then to eagerly protect it.
Over the next couple of days we’ll see exactly how we can nurture Christian love and put it on display for others to see and experience. For now, consider whether or not others can tell you apart by the love you have in your heart. Remember, what comes out in our behaviors is what lives within us in our hearts.