What does Colossians 3:12 really mean?

Colossians 3:12 is about encouraging believers to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience as they interact with others in love, mirroring the character of Christ.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,


Setting the Scene for Colossians 3:12

In Colossians chapter 3, the scene is set in a small house church in the ancient city of Colossae. The room is dimly lit by oil lamps, casting a warm glow on the faces of the believers gathered there. The air is filled with the scent of incense burning in the corner, creating an atmosphere of reverence and peace.

Among the group of believers are Phoebe, a kind-hearted widow known for her generosity, and Timothy, a young disciple eager to learn from the apostle Paul’s teachings. They have come together with other members of the church to study the letter that Paul wrote to the Colossians, seeking guidance and encouragement in their faith.

As they sit on cushions scattered on the floor, their faces illuminated by the flickering light, they listen attentively as one of the elders reads aloud from the scroll containing Paul’s words. The room is filled with a sense of unity and love as they reflect on Paul’s exhortation to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, striving to live out these virtues in their daily lives.

What is Colossians 3:12 about?

Isn’t it powerful how Colossians 3:12 encapsulates the essence of what it means to be a good human being? It’s like a gentle reminder to always strive to embody these virtues in our daily interactions. Picture yourself putting on these traits every morning just like you would put on your clothes – compassion as your shirt, kindness as your pants, humility as your shoes, gentleness as your jacket, and patience as your hat. Imagine how different our world would be if everyone made a conscious effort to dress themselves in these qualities every day.

When we think about the deeper meaning of this verse, we are encouraged to reflect on how we treat others and how we carry ourselves in the world. Can you envision a scenario where compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience are at the forefront of every interaction and decision you make? It’s not just about wearing these virtues as a facade but truly internalizing and living by them. Practicing these qualities elevates our own character and creates a ripple effect of positivity and understanding in our communities. So, let’s take this wisdom from Colossians 3:12 to heart and strive to clothe ourselves in these virtues each and every day.

Understanding what Colossians 3:12 really means

Colossians 3:12 serves as a poignant call to action for believers, urging them to embody specific virtues that reflect their new identity in Christ. This verse is nestled within a larger passage where Paul imparts wisdom to the Colossians on how to lead a life that is pleasing to God. The phrase “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” underscores the believers’ identity as handpicked by God, set apart for a special purpose, and deeply cherished by Him. It resonates with 1 Peter 2:9, which likens believers to “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.”

The metaphor of “clothe yourselves” in Colossians 3:12 suggests that virtues should be as essential to a believer’s life as clothing is to the body. This imagery is reminiscent of Ephesians 4:24, which speaks of putting on the new self, created to mirror God in true righteousness and holiness. The virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience outlined in the verse are the practical outworking of a life transformed by Christ. Galatians 5:22-23 also enumerates similar fruits of the Spirit, indicating that these qualities are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s transformative work in a believer’s life.

In today’s world, characterized by division, selfishness, and harshness, embodying these virtues can serve as a compelling testimony to the transformative power of Christ. These qualities not only nurture healthy relationships and communities but also mirror God’s love and grace to those around us. Consider a workplace scenario where tensions run high due to a stressful project. Amidst the chaos, a believer chooses to respond with compassion and patience, even when faced with irritability and unkindness from others. This response not only diffuses tension but also sets a positive example, prompting others to ponder what sets this individual apart. Over time, such actions can pave the way for sharing the gospel and demonstrating Christ’s love in tangible ways.

In conclusion, Colossians 3:12 stands as a potent reminder of the believers’ new identity in Christ and the virtues they are called to embody. By living out these qualities, believers can wield a profound influence in their communities, directing others towards the love and grace of God. Let us heed this call to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, allowing these virtues to shine brightly as a beacon of Christ’s transformative power in our lives.

How can we show compassion and kindness to others?

We can show compassion and kindness to others by being gentle, patient, and understanding. Being gentle means treating others with care and tenderness, avoiding words or actions that may cause harm. Patience helps us to be tolerant and considerate towards others, especially during difficult times or when they may be struggling. Understanding allows us to empathize with others’ feelings and situations, showing acceptance and support. We can effectively demonstrate compassion and kindness to those around us by embodying these qualities of gentleness, patience, and understanding. This can help create a more harmonious and supportive environment where individuals feel valued, loved, and cared for. We ultimately reflect the love and grace we have received from God by showing compassion and kindness towards others, allowing us to extend that same love to others in our interactions and relationships.


Think of Colossians 3:12 like a roadmap for life’s journey. Every day at work or with family, choose compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. It’s not just an option; it’s our playbook for living like Christ. Will you step up to live these values and inspire those around you?