14th may 2020
Our clothes can communicate a lot about us – our job, our income, our hobbies, our age, even our taste in music. For many, one of the more enjoyable parts of “staying at home” during this current crisis is not needing to get dressed every morning in “work clothes” or even in clean clothes. Similarly, no one knows if you’re still in your pyjamas (or actually in bed) at 10.30am on a Sunday morning, when you join the online service.
But spiritually what we wear is important.
Isaiah 61v10 says,
“For he (God) has clothed me with garments of salvation,
And arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.”
God desires to clothe us in salvation. Someone physically dresses us when we are unable to dress ourselves, possibly due to a lack of ability or ill health. That’s what God does spiritually. He knows we cannot change ourselves so if we allow him to, he steps in and does it for us. He knows our own efforts at righteousness are just like filthy rags, so he intervenes and dressed us, not just with any righteousness but His. Wow!
In addition, Isaiah 61v3, speaks of God giving a crown of beauty and a garment of praise to those who are broken hearted or grieving. And in Psalm 30v11 David declared that God removed his sackcloth, which was worn to symbolise mourning or deep sorrow, and instead clothed him with joy. God here is seen as the one who clothes us. He steps in where we are helpless and hopeless and gives to us salvation, righteousness, praise and joy. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
A young child may put on their daddy’s shoes and hat and then with great delight walk around declaring, “Hello, I’m daddy!” Yet no matter how hard they try, what they wear doesn’t make any actual difference to who they really are. When the clothes fall off and the game is over they are still the same little child.
It’s not like that for us though. God offers us clothes to last for eternity, everlasting garments, not just items to use temporarily. And they don’t simply cover up, they transform who we are.
But there is even more.
Repeatedly in the New Testament Paul instructs believers about what they are to put on. Ephesians 4v22-24 says,
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
God has miraculously transformed our lives, and so we are to keep putting on the new life he has given us. Just as every day (usually!) we put on physical clothes, every day we need to intentionally live out our new life. Romans 13v12 -14 tells us,
“So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light…clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…”
God clothes us with righteousness and salvation by his incredible grace. Yet we are to work out our salvation, and part of that means choosing what we wear spiritually, every day.
Colossians 3v12 is more specific,
“Therefore, as God’s dearly chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”
And if that isn’t enough to wear, he adds in verse 14,
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
I have bought most of the clothes in my wardrobe. A couple I have made. A few have been presents. Thankfully God doesn’t expect us to buy our spiritual clothes, or make them or even repair them. He gives us the perfect example of Jesus, calls us to be like him, and then through the Holy Spirit transforms us by his grace. Just as he knows we can’t make ourselves righteous, he also knows we continually need his help to keep clothing ourselves with Christ.
Even when life gets tough, we are still to think about what we are wearing. Paul instructs his readers to wear the full armour of God when facing battles, using the example of Roman armour (Ephesians 6v10-17). It’s easy to focus on the armour, rather than the quality, but we are told to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, readiness of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation and to use the shield of faith.
What we wear is important. It affects us as individuals but also affects those around us. If I’m not “wearing” patience or gentleness when I speak to someone, how will they feel at the end of the conversation? If I have left humility or faith behind as I start to pray, I doubt my prayers will be very effective. Making Jesus known to our friends and family will be far easier if we are clothed in him, than if we try to simply share the gospel through our own strength and knowledge.
Throughout world history people have speculated about how the world will come to an end. Nuclear war, pandemics and climate change are some events people fear. Yet the bible tells us that this present world will come to an end when Jesus Christ returns to for his Bride, the Church. Revelation 19 v7-9 is a picture of that incredible celebration. We are invited to be part of it, and once again God provides us, his Bride, with clothes to wear;
“Let us rejoice and be glad
And give him the glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
And until that glorious day, whether we are having to stay in our homes or able to go outside, whether we are living alone or with others, let us be those who daily put on the clothes God offers us.