So I’m plugging along on my memorization of Colossians 3:1-17. I haven’t actually gotten to the “clothe yourselves” part of this passage yet, but I’m pretty solidly memorized through the “What Not To Wear” section (sexual immorality, imupurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying).
But I’m thinking about clothes (and shoes, of course).
They’re fabulous, of course…but always practical?
My clothes say a lot about me, but they are NOT me. They don’t walk around without me in them (at least I don’t think they do.) (Of course now I’m thinking of Dr. Seuss’ “What Was I Scared Of?” a.k.a. The Pale Green Pants with Nobody Inside Them.).
I wear what I wear because of choices I’ve made.
Some outfits look really good on me; some look atrocious; lots of my outfits are okay, but nothing to get excited about. In the same way, my actions are not me, but they are the result of choices I make and they give a peek into the motivation that brought them about.
The “What Not To Wear” section of Colossians 3 has lots of things listed that look ugly, and they don’t happen by accident. They are the result of choices I make. Just as I don’t look down surprised to find that I’m wearing a sequined tube top and Daisy Dukes, I don’t accidentally slander people and gossip about them. Those things are ugly, and I choose to do them.
Not only that, but what’s appropriate to wear changes over time and circumstance, doesn’t it?
Hardly attractive, but sometimes they fit the bill perfectly.
Little children wear bibs because they are awfully messy when they eat. The motor skills just aren’t there yet for neat dinner times. They don’t even really notice that they’re wearing bibs; it’s just normal attire for them because of their immaturity.
In the same way, immature followers of Christ can be expected to be a little messy. Maybe the way they speak about others isn’t very careful; they don’t even really understand that they are tearing someone down with their words, or gossiping, because they are still kind of oblivious to how messy that is, and how it looks on them.
But if I still have a bib on at 40-something, you’d scratch your head and wonder what was wrong with me. Lots of behaviors that bother me in other people are more an evidence of their youth and immaturity than they are anything else.
Why do believers who have been with Jesus a long time still find it easiest to focus on those things, even if we know the root cause will be worked out over time?
Am I willing to look carefully at the other end of the spectrum, the place where I am most tempted to mess up after lots of years with Jesus? How about us mature believers, the super-polished, wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-dribbling-when-I-eat types?
Do I sometimes have on a perfectly coordinated ensemble, matched accessories, and incredible stilettos……when I show up at the park…only to find that I can’t play nicely with others because I didn’t dress appropriately for it?
Do I sometimes talk church-ese to someone who can’t understand that what I want to be saying is this: “Wow, you must be in so much pain right now! I care, but even more important, can I share with you how well God takes care of me when I’m hurting?”
Do I invite someone to a special service at church when what they need is someone to listen to their story and buy them a cup of coffee and a donut?
The clothes don’t make the woman, but they are evidence of the woman’s choices. My actions aren’t a full definition of me (sometimes I meant well and something got scrozzled in the execution, or in the perception of my actions….and sometimes I’m still just too young to realize that I’m choosing poorly), but they are a very telling indicator of what I’m focused on.
Can I find the right fit for the need in front of me? ‘Cause that’s what it is to dress for success.
If I wear a fitted linen dress (’cause that way I know I look GOOD!) no matter where I’m going, how will I ever sit down in the sandbox at the park with someone who’s broken-hearted? How will I be able to stand the thought of all those wrinkles?
Am I willing to clothe myself with LOVE over all else? If I love others, I won’t be bothered by the spaghetti sauce on their bibs. And I won’t be afraid of getting something messy on my outfit, either.
And I’m pretty sure I’ll look better myself, too.