Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.I should clothe myself with compassion and kindness, along with gentleness and patience, as well as humility as a result of the holiness and love I receive as one of God's chosen people. It's not really a choice. It's a response. As I respond with compassion towards my fellow man (my daughter, my husband, my extended family, friends, acquaintances, rivals), I see them as no better than myself (humbly), as well as deserving of God's grace, love, and mercy, which I have received for myself.
I don't know why I never saw the compassion as a precursor to kindness and patience, but it certainly has been for me as I've meditated on it this last week.1
Dictionary.com defines compassion as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. At first, I tried to separate out the suffering, to define compassion for myself as a general kindhearted attitude towards others, but I am beginning to see that the suffering is key. Aren't we all suffering? We suffer because we all struggle with sin, in one way or another. One's sin could be pride, another's could be bitterness, another's could be jealousy, or malice or unforgiveness. If I have deep sympathy towards the person who is battling pride, leading to a self-righteous attitude or a critical spirit, I will not see them in the same way than if I am simply reacting to their critical spirit. If I see that my daughter struggles to obey because of a sin nature that she is trying to overcome, then I have compassion on her and react with kindness, instead of impatience at her continual failings.
I Peter 3:8Love is the other foundation. Perhaps it is the other side of simply trying to alleviate suffering with love just for the sake of love--not because it is deserved or returned, but because it is commanded to me. Again the humility is essential. I cannot see myself as better or more deserving or wronged in the equation. I need to see myself as a vessel used to love and support others.
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
Is this too much? Is it over the top and hard to believe? If so, let me know. If not, let me know how seeing others compassionately has helped you to treat them with patience and kindness.