TIME TO GET DRESSED
Getting dressed in the morning is not my idea of a fun time. I don't really want to spend a lot of time figuring out what to wear.
When I lived in Ohio, the pastor I worked for had very specific requirements for attire for the staff. I had to wear a suit and tie every day. I learned how to do a bunch of stuff without getting my tie messed up. But the process of picking out which suit, shirt, tie, belt, socks, shoes, and jacket took time. Because everything had to match
Today, I just choose a t-shirt and jeans. I've come to find out that I am ok wearing the same thing multiple days in a row (don't worry, the shirts are clean, I just have a bunch of the same one). But I like doing it because I don't have to think about it. I already know what I'm going to wear each day. The only thing I really have to decide on is which HAT to put on. (I've got way too many)
Unfortunately, when it comes to my walk with Christ, it's not that easy.
In the book of Ephesian, Paul talks to believers about another set of clothes that we have to make decisions about every day. These decisions aren't about colors or sizes, flats or pumps, collar or no-collar. No, these are significantly more important.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:22-24,
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (emphasis added)
I've always found it helpful to think of this idea of PUTTING OFF and PUTTING ON as if it were a rack of clothes.
When we come to know Jesus as our savior and put our trust in him, he gives us a new wardrobe. We no longer have to settle for the rags of our old self. We can choose to put on a brand-new, beautiful garment each and every day.
Paul goes on to tell us that these clothes are way better than what we used to wear.
Instead of lying, we can put on truth (v. 25)
Instead of anger, we can put on patience (v. 26-27)
Instead of stealing, we can put on generosity (v. 28)
Instead of gossip, we can put on encouragement (v. 29)
And...Instead of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice, which grieves God's Spirit...we can put on kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. (v. 30-32)
The think about these new clothes is that we have to choose to put them on. And sometime, just like all new clothes, it can take us a while to feel comfortable in them. It can be real easy to want to just throw on those old, "comfy" clothes that you're used to.
Besides, they don't look THAT bad. Right?
YOU'RE GOING OUT LIKE THAT???
I like comfy clothes. And when I'm at home, I tend to wear things that I would never wear out in public. I've got a pair of jeans that have paint, grease, grass, and all sorts of other stains, patches, and the like on them. But on my days off, I tend to put them on because they are comfy and I don't have to worry about getting them dirty.
These are are the type of clothes that if I was to put them on before coming to church, my wife would give me the "You're not going out like that, are you?" look. And rightfully so. I've got plenty of nice looking, and presentable clothes to choose from.
Sometimes, I wonder if God looks at the choices I'm making about my 'spiritual clothes' and thinks, "He's not going out in that, is he? I have given him so many wonderful new things to choose from, and he's choosing those old rags again?"
Have you ever fallen into this trap before:
You know you should put on patience with your kids, but you are too tired, so instead your grab impatience?
You know you should put on forgiveness, but that means more work, so you choose bitterness instead?
You know you should put on encouraging words, but your not in the mood so you choose sarcasm instead?
You know you should put on love, but it's just not your day, and you choose selfishness instead?
Instead of putting on the new, beautiful, God-honoring clothes that he has graciously given, you continually go back to the old stained, tattered, mis-matched clothes you've been used to. You tell yourself you'll do better next time. Or you just push the new clothes farther back into the closet.
It's time to make better choices on your 'spiritual' wardrobe.
Here's an idea. Take an index card and write "Put Off the old, and Put On the new" on it. Then put it in a drawer, on top of your dresser, or tape it to your closet door. Remind yourself each day that you have choices to make about what you are going to wear when it comes to following God.
Make sure, that whatever you choose to put on, it matches what you claim to believe.
Father, thank you for giving me a relationship with you through your Son. I am so grateful for the gifts that come with that relationship too. Help me to choose my 'spiritual clothes' wisely. I don't want to keep going back to what I used to be. I want my actions, words, and thoughts to match what I know is right. Thank you for loving me and helping me. In Jesus' name, Amen.
COMMENT: Are you someone who likes to dress up or are you a comfy-clothes person?