I read a few verses from Colossians 3 (vv12-14) earlier in the week and it got me thinking. The church is supposed to be different to other communities. We’re supposed to so value each other and so appreciate this ‘body of Christ’ that we’re called into, that we share life together differently. What Jesus has done for us, shapes our relationships. So our relationships are supposed to look different to most other communities.

That’s why Paul calls the Colossians (in 3:12) ‘God’s holy people‘. Holy means special and set apart. Not superior but different. Good different. And to these ‘holy‘ people he says: ‘put on’ certain things. As you might put on clothes or a coat. But the difference is we’re all supposed to do do this. They are corporate clothes for us to all to wear. What are they? They’re clothes of: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Compassion – a love and commitment that comes from the guts.
Kindness – doing acts of love that are selfless.
Humility – not focussing on ourselves, but on Christ and others.
Gentleness – not being abrasive or riding roughshod over others.
Patience – hanging in there, when people frustrate you, not giving up.

God wants us ‘to wear’ these things. To display them. To live them.Will you do that this Advent and this Christmas? They’re especially important at Christmas because despite being the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all, this is time when many are tired and stressed. So many say things and do things at this time of year that they later regret. So TAKE CARE! And ‘wear’ these clothes. Put on these things.

As we wear these things like garments, there are 2 things in particular that God wants us to know and do.

1. Know you’re forgiven. So forgive.
That’s what we’re told in v13: ‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ So, do you know you’re forgiven by Jesus Christ? Totally. Utterly. Completely. To be sure, think of the worst thing you’ve ever done wrong. For some of you as you read this, no-one but you will know about it. But Jesus Christ does. And he has forgiven you for that thing – be it a thought, a word or a deed. Do you know that? Do you really know that? Because if you do, then you know what it is to be forgiven. So forgive others. Forgive them. Forgive those who hurt you. Who mess you round. Forgive them. And ask others to forgive you too, when you get things wrong.

It’s said that when Leonardo da Vinci was working on his painting The Last Supper that he became angry with someone. Losing his temper he lashed out at the man with bitter words and threats. Returning to his canvas, he attempted to work on the face of Jesus, but found he couldn’t. He became so upset he couldn’t compose himself for the painstaking work. Finally he knew what he had to do. He put down his tools, sought out the man, and asked for his forgiveness. The man accepted his apology and Da Vinci was able to return to his workshop and be inspired to finish painting the face of Jesus Christ.

So, who do you need to say sorry to, this Christmas? And who do you need to forgive?

2. Know you’re loved. So love.
God’s people are called (in v12) ‘dearly loved’ – people. God wants us to know that and as a result we should especially ‘put on love’ (v14). So, do you know you’re loved? Deeply. Immensely. Unconditionally. God made you in love. And longs to fill you with his Spirit because he loves you and want to use you in his great and glorious purposes. Do you know that? Do you really know his welcome and embrace? If so, then give away what he’s given you. You’re called to love. To love others. To love with all that you have: heart, soul, mind and strength.

The famous psychiatrist Dr Karl Menninger said: ‘Love cures people: the ones who receive love. And the ones who give it too.’ You see, love works both ways: as we give, others receive; but as we give, we also receive.

Love is a great present to receive at Christmas. Kind, thoughtful, beautiful love. It flows from the heart of Jesus and out from his body into the world.

So, let’s take care with our relationships and especially invest in loving those around us.

Will you do that? Will you love? If so, who are you really going to love, this Christmas?