Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14
Behind the Book
Paul wrote Colossians, most likely while he was in prison in Rome, before he got the opportunity to visit the city of Colossae. His intention was to develop connections with the people there he was hoping to teach and serve. Paul was writing to them to call out heretical teachers who had infiltrated the Colossian church.
Faith & Work Application
Living out our faith at work is much more than not doing the wrong things. It’s about actively doing the right things. When we clothe ourselves in the virtues listed in these verses, we make it evident to those around us who the master is in our lives. Our coworkers should be able to feel that they are being treated well by us and we should be pursuing high-quality, intentional relationships with them. The virtues listed in this passage are how we create those relationships. These virtues are expressed through our relationships. More personal virtues like efficiency, diligence, or even confidence and self-discipline, while things we should also pursue, are not Paul’s focus while sharing his introduction of basic Christian qualities.
How do we ensure we live out these virtues instead of just getting by on being good enough?
Compassion: Don’t just avoid anger and annoyance. Intentionally respond and lead with compassion. When you create deep, meaningful relationships with your coworkers, you create an environment where people feel comfortable to come and share personal issues that might be affecting their work. When you respond well to unfortunate or confusing situations, resolution is sure to come about much faster than a negative response.
Kindness: We aren’t meant to live in a negative state or even a neutral state. We are to be soft, peaceful, and sweet, treating everyone as positively as we would like to be treated. That’s not to say we should avoid feeling negative emotions. We are simply meant to respond to those emotions in a level-headed, considerate, and caring manner.
Humility: Only acting humbly in demeanor might seem good enough to those around us but God knows if we also have a humble mind and heart. Allow others to boldly express their talents and skills and set aside your pride to let others shine. Serve others humbly with your own skills and talents. Develop your gifts and create an environment that encourages exploring personal growth. This will help with your organization’s success and will deepen your relationships.
Gentleness: Responding passively instead of impatiently or aggressively isn’t good enough. Hebrews 5:2 tells us that Jesus “deals gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” Being gentle is an active and strong response. Responding negatively dismisses a coworker’s previous wins and discourages future open and honest communication. Gently responding to “mess-ups” creates space for growth and creative problem-solving.
Patience: We all sin over and over and have stepped off of the path God has laid out for us too many times to count. And God patiently waits for us to return to him every single time. Responding patiently to challenging situations doesn’t mean allowing others to abuse our kindness and trust. Responding patiently is helping others work through their struggles to help them grow and improve.
Forgiveness and Love: The more often we give thanks to God, the more agreeable we become to those around us. We must acknowledge how God has forgiven us and use that to put into perspective how we should respond to others. If God can forgive us for our continued offenses, we can follow that example and forgive those around us.
When we put on love, we put on all of these virtues and are able to forgive others more wholeheartedly.
Consider how you respond to various situations at work. How are you applying each of these virtues to those situations? Which do you need to work on the most? How can you use the virtues that come more naturally to you to help grow the ones that you’ve found more difficult to grasp?
“God, thank you for setting me apart and equipping me with the ability to live my life with love. Reveal the ways in which I can grow and improve so I am not going through life in a passive and neutral way, that I put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, so that Christ shines out to my teammates.”