I don’t stress out too much about clothes. There’s very little fashion sense in these bones. When my daughter was in High School, she pointed out that my brown belt didn’t go with my black shoes as I was leaving for work. I shrugged my shoulders and walked out into the world anyway. What a fashion rebel I am.
I think that my utter lack of fashion sense can be attributed to growing up rural. The sheep and pigs never turned up their noses if my belt and shoes didn’t match. Do they even make a belt that matches the color of farm boots?
Now, I do know that clothes are a huge deal for some folks. I understand that there is appropriate attire for varying situations. You would never feed sheep in a tuxedo, besides there’s no place the hang the Leatherman multi-tool. I also know that the Bible does talk some about clothes and goes into great detail about what the tabernacle priests wore. And then we run into something Paul wrote.
He begins by saying “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on…” Great, fashion tips from 2000 years ago. But Paul doesn’t launch into a list of what clothes to put on but what attitudes to wear. The text reads in full, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12–14, NASB95)
A few verses earlier Paul encouraged his readers to take off attitudes such as anger, wrath, malice, bullying (abusive speech), and lies. Wearing those attitudes is like wearing dirty blue jeans to a white tie dinner. As followers of Jesus, we dress differently, not necessarily on the outside, but definitely on the inside.
Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, walk in forgiveness and love Paul advised. Notice that all of these touch others in some way. Where anger, malice, etc. are about empowering ourselves; compassion, kindness, etc. are about lifting up others.
It’s interesting, and perhaps more instructive than we realize. that between the “take these things off” list and the “put these things on” list stand two truths. The first truth is the life-changing renovation that begins when folks choose to receive Jesus as their Healer, Forgiver, Savior, and Lord. The second is that there is no partiality or distinction in this renovation between “Greek and Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman…” Neither should the compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love we are to put on be given or withheld based on similar factors.
So, maybe we should look at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word to see if we really are dressed right. Or are we mixing a heart of compassion with the malice of division or the anger of judgment? Perhaps it’s time to take of our world stained attitudes and put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, walk in forgiveness, and love. Maybe, what you wear does matter.