by Joe Alain

Graces for Growing Together
Joe Alain
Colossians 3:12-14

“Layering” your clothing is not something that we have to spend a lot of time thinking about in south Louisiana, but in some places they have the practice down to a science. On one outdoor website there are detailed articles on how to layer your base, insulating, and shell layers of clothing, all the while looking good. The whole idea behind layering is to protect yourself against harsh weather conditions and if and when the conditions improve you can simply remove some of your layering.

In Colossians 3:12-14, we might say that Paul is giving us some “how to” on the subject of layering your life with Christian virtues or graces. “Clothe yourselves, put these Christian graces on,” Paul is saying like you would put on pieces of clothing. “Putting on these graces will allow you to be the kind of person that God wants you to be. These virtues will help your personal relationships remain warm and healthy, and growing and godly.”

Paul is speaking to believers, people who have already put on the new self, they have experienced the “new birth” (i.e., salvation v.1). Now they must clothe themselves with the kind of clothing that reflects and fits with their new life. The expression “Clothe yourself” means to put on the character of Christ. And this expression is a command (an aorist imperative) which speaks to the fact that these virtues are to be sought after by every believer and put on with a sense of urgency.

All of these graces or virtues singled out in vv.12-14 have to do with personal relationships. These qualities of life which, if present in the community of believers (or any relationship), will eliminate, or at least reduce friction in relationships. Here are the qualities that will allow you to develop healthy relationships and to bring healing to your fractured ones. These are “Graces for Growing Together,” and all are manifestations of love which is mentioned in verse 14 as the crowning vir ...

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