Think of your favorite jacket. You know the one. It is the one that gives you the most comfort and warmth on an inhospitable day. This jacket is your armor against the harshness of wind and bite of cold or damp.
“But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” [Colossians 3:14]
I received a comment on my last post, To Put on Love. The comment gave me a visual I could not shake. My reader said, “Okay, I’ll put on my jacket of love this morning…” I could see it: At the beach, I pull on my favorite lightweight sweatshirt jacket. The soft folds whisper against my skin, protecting me from the wind and sun. The wind catches my hair and I quickly roll it, tucking into under as I pull the hood over my head. Now I am cozy and protected as I look out to watch the waves roll onto the shore. I can take in God’s creation without the distraction of physical discomfort and the hair in my eyes!
So what happens when I put on my spiritual Jacket of Love? I’ve been playing with this over the last week. Putting on love is a conscious action. The scriptures are not passive here. When I put on my Jacket of Love this week, I saw others through God’s love.
I could sense his heartbreak for those wandering away and His joy at our successes. My heart prayed for them, even for those whose actions hurt others. It is hard to love someone who spreads chaos, greed, and pain. We see hurtful things every day in the news, our communities, workplaces, churches, and homes. It is hard to love someone who hurts those around them. But God does. He loves them all.
Do you know what I discovered? When I send forth love in the form of prayers, I feel God’s warmth inside my soul. In the physical world, a jacket warms a body by protecting it from the outside and keeping the heat inside. What a great analogy this reader gave us. God’s love protects us and warms us. Just like a jacket can’t warm you while hanging on a peg, God can’t warm a heart that does not put on love.
I needed to understand more so… I dove deeper. What I found is astonishing. This path is not as short as I thought. This trail is long with many paths winding back to the main lesson which is: “… above all these things put on love.”
Looking at the cross-references to Colossians 3:1-17 I looked up verses 1-8, four of the verses referenced Ephesians. In Ephesians 4:24 the scripture reads:
“and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Wow! I sat back and pondered the phrase “put on.” A couple of years ago I learned to “put on” the armor of God in Ephesians 6:11-17. Then, last week, I learned to “put on” Love in Colossians 3:14. I wondered; what else does God tell me to “put on?”
In my favorite online Bible search, I looked up the term “put on.” I found 63 verses in the New King James Version, 81 verses in the New American Bible Revised Edition, and 138 verses in Young’s Literal Translation. Hmm… God has something to say about what we “put on” in our lives. My mind is whirling at the extent of this study. This is more involved than the two passages I originally found.
There is a method of study where a Christian asks God for a word to study for the year. I loosely follow this method. It works well for me since it gives me a focus and reduces my distractions. On high pain days when it’s hard to think, I know where to start in my daily study. Last year my focus was lessons from Joseph and revisiting Job.
Once I realized God had given me my focus for 2020, I printed out all those references. This year I will study how we “put on” our faith. I will be keeping you in my prayers and adventures. I see an amazing adventure journey for 2020!
I described how I saw my Jacket. Now if you are willing; Share what your Jacket of Love looks like to you. Enjoy the warmth of love from the Jacket of Love that he provides for you.