“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 whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ~Colossians 3:12-17

You can tell who people are by the clothes they wear. If you see a police officer, you know she is a police officer by the uniform, the badge, and the handcuffs on her belt. You know a nurse by the scrubs she is wearing, the stethoscope around her neck, and — nowadays — by the bags under her eyes. A referee wears a striped shirt, a cowboy wears pointed boots, a chef wears an interesting hat, and a dad wears cargo shorts and Nike Air Monarchs. (Which are still really cool!)

A Christian is also recognized by the fashion statement he makes. When you’ve been raised with Christ, you wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And people recognize it a mile away.

The old clothes, the clothes you wore in the life you once lived, are inappropriate for the new realities in Christ. The new clothes, the new ways to behave, are what we wear now. And these new clothes signal to people who we are and what we’re all about. They identify us as belonging to Christ.

Now, some people will criticize the clothes Christians wear as kinda wimpy: Christians are weak-willed sissies who talk about love and peace and get run over by the rest of the world. That’s simply not true. Christian behavior is decidedly different from worldly behavior — but it’s not for wusses. People who say that don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Have you ever seriously tried to forgive somebody who did you wrong? That is a very difficult thing to do. It takes determination and commitment and follow-through. It takes a devotion to the other person and a loyalty to higher ideals. It takes great courage to forgive. The wimpy thing, the easy thing to do, is not forgive.

Have you ever seriously tried to be compassionate and patient? It’s not natural. It’s not easy. It takes tremendous discipline. Being a person of peace in this world we’re in takes a massive amount of courage and boldness. And it’s risky. It’s much safer to slander and lie and express anger. But those are the old clothes. That’s the old life, before we were raised with Christ. Our reality is different now.

And so are our clothes.