The Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Colossae: “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14, NRSV) I am especially interested in the phrase, “clothe yourselves in love”.
We often identify people based on how they are dressed. For example, a man wearing a suit and tie might be assumed to be a business professional or an attorney. A woman in work-out gear might be assumed to be a personal trainer.
Conversely, someone dressed shabbily might be presumed to be homeless. Someone dressed inappropriately (however we may define that) might be assumed to be less-than. If we make our first impression in the first 30 seconds of seeing someone, a large part of that impression will be based on clothing or appearance.
When I think about being “clothed in love”, I think about the persona presented by someone. Have you ever met someone that brings a calmness to your heart? Can you identify anyone you would describe as “whole”?
If we are to work toward being clothed in love, what would that look like? The Apostle Paul describes love at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
When we allow love to be the predominant operating system in our hearts and minds, we are better able to be present with others in reality. That is to say, when love interprets how we see others, we can become someone others describe as “whole”.
Rather than seeing what may be wrong or unacceptable about someone else in our eyes, we will be able to see them as unique individuals, worthy of love and care. Notice in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians above, there is a list of what love is “not”. Love is not envious, boastful, or rude. Love is not selfish, irritable, or resentful.
Unfortunately, these negative attitudes are flourishing in the world today. How can you and I be fully clothed in love? Practice patience. Very few of the things we consider emergencies are actually emergencies. We place a great deal of stress on ourselves by not remembering that.
Be kind. It is one of the easiest things to do, but one of the most neglected. Kindness is something we all desire, but many rarely offer it to others. Be polite. Practice addressing one another in uplifting terms, such as, “Yes Sir”, “No Maam”, “please”, “thank you”, “please, go ahead of me”, and others. Practice holding the door for someone you don’t know.
Practice offering assistance to someone that can never re-pay you. Basically, be nice. Maybe we can start a new trend.
Blessings and Peace to You All,
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at email@example.com. St. Andrew's worship service is at 10 a.m., every Sunday, and broadcast on KWXC 88.9 FM at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.