A friend asked about Colossians 3:12, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness…” Can this be read through a lens of grace rather than moralistic effort? Good question. I read this verse wrong for years. I pictured it as meaning I should go to the closet, “put on” some clothes and behaviors that really are not me, and if I practice them long enough, I will become like my behavior. Somehow my behavioral efforts of acting kind will seep into me and I will be transformed into a kind person. This is the “sow an act – reap a habit, sow a habit – reap a character” theology! And it is wrong. It requires nothing redemptive.
What if this new nature I have, that God describes as righteous and holy, means that the DNA of kindness is already in me! What if this was an exhortation to let what is already true about me come to the surface so others could see it and experience it? What if I don’t have to try to become someone different from who I am, but I just need to live out of who God has already made me to be?