Throughout this entire study, one theme that Scripture likes to point out when talking about one’s identity in Christ is this idea of being chosen by God. Something about being chosen makes me feel like I’m loved, that there’s some sort of worth in me, which is especially highlighted when I feel like I’m worth nothing at all.
I know this is a story that has been romanticized in movies and stuff, but it’s something that I experienced that makes sense whenever I think of the idea of being chosen. I’ve been the fat kid all my life, so being chosen last to play any sport was a normal occurrence for me (at least before I found basketball, when people would kill to have me as a center). I would watch all the sporty, athletic guys get chosen first; then the girls with the angry face (which translated into kicking the ball really fast and far) would get chosen; then, me, the fat kid who everybody was still friends with, but not totally into having on their sports team.
Once in a while, they would choose me before it got to the end, but I would feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that they made good on their choice, that I was worth choosing to be on their team of superstars. Inevitably, however, I would end up screwing up something … I think I remember getting so angry that I threw a baseball bat in the air, which effectively hit someone right on the forehead. Maybe that explains why I don’t like baseball that much.
I wonder if that’s the same way we treat God and His grace. God is some cosmic deity floating in the sky, choosing the best and most spiritual-looking ones to be a part of His team of ethereal superstars in heaven. However, Jesus makes it very clear that the criterion for eternal life is not mere earthly spirituality on our part, but love on His part. In the Gospels, he makes this point very clear by saying the following in Mark 2:17:
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
At the end of the day, there is nothing really inherent about the human race that would make God love us the way He does. In His eyes of holy righteousness, we are criminals unworthy of carrying the name of the Most High God (Rom. 3:23). However, we must understand that our worthiness and “chosenness” before Him is functional upon who He is. If we understand that He is the embodiment of love (1 Jn. 4:8), then we will understand what Paul writes in Romans 5:8:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The fact we are chosen in God is functional upon the fact that God Himself is love and He desires to pour out His love upon us, despite our unworthiness to be called His children. Since Jesus died on the cross to remove our sins from us and now welcomes us into His family by faith, we are now worthy before God because He chose us. We “choose” Him as a function of understanding that He has saved us for a greater purpose than we could ever dream. This is what brings us to our verse for this morning, which Paul writes:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Since we have been chosen by God to be His people, set apart for a greater purpose in His Kingdom and incredibly loved, far beyond our shame and sinfulness, we must then choose to honor our God by showing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience towards others. To show these characteristics on their own, sourced by our own personalities and strength, is an impossible task. It’s hard for me to show compassion to the girl in the street who cuts me off and kindness to the guy who makes fun of my voice.
However, I know that because God chose me when I was still a sinner, loving me when I was still rebellious against Him and setting me apart for a great work in His Kingdom, I will choose to be Christ-like to the people around me. The verb “clothe” implies that having these attitudes towards people is a function of our choice as believers. We have to choose to be Christ-like to the people around us, putting on these attitudes like clothes. Pretty soon, our hope is that these attitudes will become a part of our personal character, just as our clothes reflect our personal style and characteristics.
By God’s grace, we have been chosen. In His grace, I shall choose to be like Christ for the sake of the Gospel and to reflect His love for me and others. May the Lord be praised always!