Are You Really Wearing That?
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
We get dressed every day. Occasionally, several times a day.
Depending on our personality and the occasion, we sometimes give a lot of thought and attention to what we wear. It took me months to find an appropriate mother-of-the-bride gown. Twice.
Other times, we throw something on without thinking. Just grab the nearest sweater and comfy jeans and we’re good to go.
Most of us wouldn’t dream of walking around naked…
Perhaps that’s why Paul knew he would have our attention by using this imagery – to clothe ourselves. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3.12)
He tells us to get dressed up in kindness. To button up gentleness and step into patience.
Well, what in the world does that look like?
Earlier in this letter to the believers living in Colossae, Paul has reminded them that they are new creatures in Christ. Referring to the ways they used to walk, he suggests they get rid of (“take off”) a long list of unholy practices, and then “put on the new self.” (Colossians 3.7-10)
Before the ‘new clothing’ is listed, Paul reiterates the most important truth of all – that they are “chosen, holy, and dearly loved” by God (v.12). Embracing these facts is key, because our identity always precedes our actions and attitudes. We are new creatures through our faith in Christ, by no merit of our own, who have a significant role to play.
We must decide put on Christ each day, just as we put on clothing. When we freely choose to dress in spiritual clothes every day, the Holy Spirit produces change—change in our personalities, our priorities, and our prayer. What is alive in our hearts shines out from us.
The five ‘garments’ mentioned in today’s verse are what I would call somewhat muted clothing. They don’t make a huge splash, like bright jewel colors and bling, but are instead lovely and quite powerful in their subtle beauty:
- Compassion (Greek word oiktirmos: meaning mercy, feeling sympathy for others’ misfortunes) – as we wear compassion we will be better able to come alongside those who are in pain and trouble.
- Kindness (Greek word chrestotes: meaning to extend goodwill, kindness and helpfulness) – those who wear kindness are quick to offer help and a good word to anyone.
- Humility (Greek word tapeinophrosyne: a lowliness of mind and attitude, modesty) – when we wear humility, we are content to work in the background, not calling attention to ourselves.
- Gentleness (Greek word proutes: describing meekness, obedient submissiveness to God) – clothed in gentleness, we are more apt to speak quietly, move slowly, and carry out God’s ways in a loving manner.
- Patience (Greek word makrothumia: which means long-suffering, handling injustice or difficulty well) – those who wear patience will always be welcome as a tribute to fortitude and serenity in the midst of the unknown.
My best ‘fashion tip’ is to remember that you are holy, chosen and deeply loved. You have taken off the grave clothes and are now putting on grace clothes.
All dressed up with somewhere to go — out into the world!
under the mercy, Cindy
“O Christ, clothe me with Yourself. Be for me a warm garment that will protect me from catching the cold of this world. If you are away from me, dear Lord, all things will be cold and lifeless. But if You are with me, all things will be warm, lively and fresh. As I cover my body with this article of clothing, please become the clothing of my soul. Put upon me mercy, meekness, love, and peace. Amen.” John Bradford (1510-1555)
“WOLF HALL” Factoid: The above prayer was written by a godly man who lived during the time of Henry VIII and his many wives. In fact, Henry’s daughter, Queen Mary, burned John Bradford at the stake simply because he was a Protestant and she was a Catholic. Known as “Bloody Mary” this daughter of Henry and Catherine of Aragon had 280 Christians burned at the stake during her reign. Still angry about the whole Church-of-England-and-get-rid-of-Queen-Catherine thing I guess. So many repercussions of sin….