Irrespective of our style when it comes to attire, our wardrobe preferences are as unique as our personalities. Fashion forward individuals wear cutting-edge outfits that establish trends in society while those who prefer professional chic want apparel that blends elegance with style. Some of us favor designer labels while others prefer value brands. Some gravitate to bright hues, others to muted pastels, and still others to dark colors. Some are meticulous about creating matching ensembles while others invest little time pulling an outfit together. But regardless of specifics, most of us would agree our wardrobes reflect who we are and signal something about our personality.
Did you know that the same principle applies with our spiritual wardrobes? The behaviors, language, and attitudes we wear on a daily basis reveal a great deal about our faith and signal to causal observers what we really believe. Consequently we ought to focus as much time and attention on how we are clothed spiritually each day as we do on our outfits of cotton, cashmere, and corduroy.
The apostle Paul speaks to this in Colossians. He tells us, “Since God chose us to be the holy people He loves, we must clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12, NLT). I love the metaphorical imagery Paul uses. His counsel is not a recommendation; it is a command. As an expression of our gratitude for God’s love, we dress ourselves in these characteristics that define Him. Moreover, Christ modeled these traits as an example for us to follow and demonstrate to a hurting world.
Moreover, in a culture marked by judgment, rudeness, arrogance, brutality, and impatience, such godly attributes offer a compelling contrast. They attract the attention of those weary and crushed by society’s cruel indifference. Clothing ourselves with the behaviors Paul mentions opens doors to sharing the gospel with those who otherwise might have no interest in discussing God.
Additionally, there are three important insights we can glean from the imagery of Paul’s clothing metaphor. First, we need to wear spiritual garments consistent with our faith in Christ. A grizzled motorcyclist would never enter his favorite bar wearing yellow trousers, a periwinkle shirt, and a cashmere sweater; nor would a fashionista saunter down Main Street sporting apparel from Wal-Mart or Dollar General. Such outfits are incongruous to their identities as a tough guy and an authority on style. Similarly, we ought to clothe ourselves in appropriate spiritual attire that reflects Jesus’ attributes.
Second, we need to dress ourselves spiritually on a daily basis. How many of us wear clothes only a couple days a week and walk around naked the rest of the time? None, I suspect. Likewise, it is insufficient to wear our spiritual attire on only an occasional basis. We must clothe ourselves in love, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience every day, and keep that attire on throughout the day. We must resist the temptation to remove any of those garments when faced with a challenging circumstance or sticky situation.
Finally, we must be intentional in putting on our spiritual apparel. Do you ever leave home just hoping your body clothed itself or do you deliberately go to the closet, select an outfit, put it on, and check the mirror to make sure everything’s fine? Similarly, we must do more than hope we have on spiritual clothing when we leave the house.
Develop the practice of asking God to give you a spirit of humility, mercy, patience, kindness, and gentleness as you get dressed each morning. By linking the two together you will develop the habit of ensuring you are clothed in the attributes of Christ as you start each day.