The saying “you are what you wear” is not an accurate statement. It is in fact more accurate to say your dressing says a lot about your character. In biblical terms however, “you are what you wear” is a very true and accurate statement. Christians are supposed to be in the business of putting off dirty clothing (sinful habits), undergo renewal and put on clean clothing (Christ like virtues). This is Paul’s exhortation to the Christians who were recipients of the book of Colossians. He says in the third chapter from verse twelve to fourteen;
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Who should wear the spiritual clothes?
Paul uses three phrases in verse twelve to describe the position of the people who should be doing the putting off and putting on. The phrases also point to the work of God in drawing a people to Himself. God calls people to a community and the traits are to be seen and worked out in the context of a community i.e the church. He says that those who are to be putting these spiritual virtues are;
a. Chosen: He freely and lovingly chose us not by merit or worth but because of His pure and perfect purpose and knowledge, which we do not deserve.
b. Holy: God has declared you holy, set part for Him- the pleasures and wondrous opportunities to be used by Him.
c. Loved: God loves you and accepts you more powerfully, passionately, purposefully and deeply than you could ever fathom.
What should they wear?
Clothe yourselves/put on carries a sense of urgency and notice we have a responsibility to be growing and emulate the character of Christ. And he gives us examples of the traits to put on.
a. Compassion/tender mercies: This is caring empathy of another person outside of selfish nature. It is to recognize, emotionally identify with and interact with those who are hurting, and helping them by gathering others with the abilities and resources to them.
b. Kindness: Readiness to respond with righteousness and thoughtful consideration beyond how people treat us or how they may or may not deserve it.
c. Humility: Lowliness of mind, acknowledging your poverty, not exalting yourself. This comes from the realization that Christ is supreme and all in all and we are mere servants.
d. Meekness/gentleness: Strength under control. We encourage and place others first with action and encouragement, not manipulating, deceiving or over powering them.
e. Patience/longsuffering: Joyfully enduring the trials, persecution and suffering that people bring in our lives.
f. Bear with/forbearing: Hold up or put up with those who rub you the wrong way; liking the unlikable and loving the unlovable with a good attitude and response.
g. Forgive: We must be willing to bear the cost, just as the Lord did. Lack of forgiveness fuels discord and reconciliation. Remember how you have been forgiven.
h. Love: Above all (this is a priority) it is not earned and given freely. It is a choice you make and it is despite the person. It is love that binds these together.
What is the goal of wearing these clothes?
Have you ever wondered why most homes, churches and countries lack genuine peace? Why there is persistent conflict between people? The answer is simple we are not applying ourselves in the business of putting off sinful habits and putting on Christ like virtues.
Love for others encourages unity and oneness in the home and in the church. If homes, churches, communities and nations are going to know harmony and Christlikeness these traits must be evident among us.