August 26, 2013

What to wear?

Devotion for the Week...

I've been thinking about clothes a lot lately. School starts next week here and so I've been checking the boys' drawers and closets to figure out what clothes they have outgrown. After weeding out everything too short in the arms or legs or too tight in the waist, their wardrobes seem a little depleted.

Seriously, do they have to grow so fast?

Now I've moved on the the task of sorting through bags of hand-me-downs lugged up from the storage room. Nathan seems to have hit the jackpot! Between the clothes Aiden and Zachary wore at that age and the clothes we've been given from others, I think he'll have enough clothes for 2 or 3 kids. We'll be passing on what we don't need. I'm not sure yet what we have that will fit the other two, but there are bags from their cousin, so I'm confident I'll find something.

With all these thoughts about clothes, I remembered something Paul wrote to the Colossians. Well, to be completely honest, I remembered that he wrote it, but I had to look up who he wrote it to. Here's what he had to say: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3: 12-14)

I find it interesting that Paul uses the imagery of getting dressed in this passage. Getting dressed is something we do every day, something we do deliberately. In the same way, we are to choose to wear these traits every day. It is to be a conscious choice we make - to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with everyone we encounter that day.

This sounds a whole lot easier than it is. When we're around people who rub us the wrong way, or people who are rude, it's not easy to respond in love. And yet that is exactly what Paul is calling us to do. We will have plenty of opportunities to practice, of course. We'll be tempted to respond impatiently to whining kids, there will be times we think we're better than someone else, times we want to lash out at the person who hurt our feelings, and times we want to just walk away from someone who doesn't ever have a kind word to say. In those moments, we are to remember what we are wearing. Not the shirt and pants, but the compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility and most of all, the love.

Paul started off the passage above with the word 'therefore,' which begs the question - what was he talking about before the 'therefore'? In verses 5 - 8 he talks about things we should no longer be doing, such as anger, rage, malice, sexual immorality, etc. Then he says, "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." (vv 9-11) So, we have taken off the old self and its practices, like taking off dirty, sweaty clothes. We don't want to wear that character anymore. Instead we have put on a new character and this new character has nothing to do with our physical person. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, your status in society or your background. Your new character is to be that of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, because of this new character, and because of the power of Christ which is in each of us as believers, we are able to wear the traits Paul lists for us. Now it is up to us to choose to put them on at every opportunity.

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