Bearing the Family Likeness
Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:10
Family resemblance isn’t always a matter of physical likeness. Neither my son nor daughter look like me. Their hair color and the shape of their faces are different. In fact, they resemble my husband’s family more than my family. But I often recognize myself in my children’s actions and attitudes.
Similarly, our resemblance to Jesus is sometimes most clearly revealed in our actions and attitudes. In Colossians 3: 5-9, Paul told the Colossians to discard the behaviors and attitudes of their “earthly nature” for they had “taken off [their] old self with its practices” (v. 9) Instead, they should “put on the new self,” which is daily being reshaped according to the image of the One who created it (v. 10).
What is that image? Isaiah 53:2 says that Jesus “had no beauty or majesty to attract him to us.” Nevertheless, thousands of people crowded around him wherever he went. Why? His kindness and mercy drew them close—feeding the hungry, healing the sick, welcoming the outcasts. They then eagerly listened to his words.
In Colossians 3:11-14, Paul mentioned several ways we should resemble Jesus. First on the list is impartiality. If what unites us is Christ, then other distinctions—including ethnicity, economic status, and many religious rituals—don’t matter (v. 11).
As God’s “holy and dearly beloved” people, we also should “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (v. 12). These aren’t flashy, onstage attributes. More often they’re the unseen, unapplauded actions of those who serve others in simple ways: patience with a stubborn child, kindness to a rude cashier, gentleness with an angry spouse, compassion for a homeless veteran.
Sometimes it’s even more difficult for us to forgive others than to serve them. Perhaps that’s why Paul added “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another” (v. 13). Of course, the only way any of us can resemble Jesus in these ways is by allowing his love to flow through us (v. 14).
The next time you look in the mirror to check your physical appearance, think about your spiritual appearance as well. Much more important than a clean face is a clean heart—one that resembles Jesus.
Read Exodus 34:5-7. How did God describe himself to Moses? What similarities do you see between his attributes and the attributes Paul lists in Colossians 3:11-14? Why do you think some of God’s attributes are omitted in Paul’s list?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. What hope and joy did daily spiritual renewal give Paul? How do his words encourage you today?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our series on The Prison Epistles.
[i] “G3437 – momphē – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (niv).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 19 Sep, 2022. <https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g3437/niv/mgnt/0-1/>.