What Are You Wearing?
The Hollywood red carpet pays special attention to what celebrities are wearing, reporters blatantly ask: “What are you wearing?” For thousands of years our clothing has communicated our status, our values and our priorities. Even today, we work at developing a wardrobe that reflects who we are as a person.
Spring is closet cleaning time and the wardrobe gets special attention. A wardrobe is a collection of clothing, usually built up over a long period of time. Just what spiritual clothing have we built up over a long period of time? Paul tells us to “put on Christ,” so what “spiritual clothing” do I need to put on in my life? What thinking, attitudes and behavior will represent who I am right now in this season of my life: 1)my status as being “In Christ,” 2)my values according to the Word and 3)the God-focused priority to my life?
Wardrobe planners will tell you to start with one big clean out and thereafter it is a continual maintenance of the wardrobe. We, in Christ, are continually evaluating our lives, identifying what needs to go out of our “spiritual wardrobe” and what new behavior needs to be developed. We want our spiritual wardrobe to express the new person we are in Christ, where we are right now as we grow and develop in our spiritual growth. Wardrobe planners suggest that you separate your clothing into categories and today I want to talk about a category of spiritual clothing (behavior, attitudes and thinking) that is discussed in Col 3:7-10 that we need to consider for our “God-fashioned life” (Eph 4:24 in the Message)
It is a category of spiritual clothing that needs to be built up in our lives, perhaps over a long period of time. Putting on this spiritual clothing takes a determined and systematic building-up and co-operation with the Holy Spirit over the course of our spiritual walk. This clothing does not come naturally and is not easy to acquire. It is what I would call: relationship building clothing. Why?
God is serious about relationships!
Consider firstly, that He made us in His image, to be like Him, who Himself, is in a love relationship within the Trinity. Secondly, He sent his Son to bring reconciliation between us and Himself, being willing to sacrifice Himself on the cross for our sins, so that we can have a relationship with Him. Thirdly He’s made us for relationships with each other. Remember we’re told the most important commandment is to ‘Love the LORD your God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)
Relationships are what kingdom people are all about, so clothing ourselves in attitudes and behavior that are relationship-building is part of the process of being renewed within ourselves and working it out in our conduct, so that we appropriately reflect Jesus’ character to others. But how…?
First, we need to make a conscious decision to take off behavior that does not contribute to good relationships. Get rid of the ‘ugly’ and obsolete “spiritual clothing”, by confessing our heart issues in repentance and asking God for a clean heart.
Col 3:8, Paul says to “rid yourselves of…” and Paul lists Sins of Speech – anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips, for these are relationship-breakers! The second behavior Paul also clearly emphasizes is not to lie to one another as it breeds distrust and breaks down relationships.
“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col 3:7-10)
Broken relationships hinder our relationship with God, because broken relationships hurt God.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15). When we don’t get rid of sins of speech and lying to one another, it lays the foundation for un-forgiveness, offense and broken relationships.
One of the most important attitudes (in our selection of new attitudes that we will embrace in our spiritual wardrobe) is forgiveness. Just as we needed to be forgiven to step into a relationship with God, we need to extend, or seek forgiveness as a regular garment to put on, for our new identity in Christ.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matt 5:23-24)
It is about keeping a clean slate in our relationships, an important addition to our spiritual wardrobe.
Now that we have taken off the relationship breakers and we are clean before the Lord, now in Col 3:10, Paul calls us to put on the new self, and verse 12 he says to put on the following relationship-builders: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. These are almost like under-garments that we wear close to our skin, the new behavior that becomes characteristic of us and who we are.
Relationships require work! Don’t sit back and say “I’m not good at relationships” … or “I don’t have lots of friends…” Let’s not offer excuses, work on it! Make the effort! The new person we are in Christ is a person who builds relationships. Our attitude towards others reflects our love for God (1 John 4:20).
“If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.” (1 John 4:20-21 MSG)
Work at developing new attitudes and behaviors that promote relationships and reflect who you are NOW in your new life in Christ. Old behavior which came naturally may not suit the new person you have become. Old approaches to relationships may not match the new person you are. Where to start? Here is an idea, look at how those relationship building attitudes that Paul listed (i.e. compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience) are translated in the Passion version of Col 3:10-14
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So, robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.” (Col 3:7-14 The Passion Translation)
- Do you think that good relationship skills are worth working on? Have you ever considered that you are designed for relationships – designed to have a relationship with God and to have relationships with other people? Do you actively work on your relationship building skills or do you see relationships as something you have no control or influence over? Or perhaps, as something you are just not good at?
- Have you ever considered that the Lord wants us to be good at relationships? Read 2 Cor 5:17-20, how would you see yourself taking part in the “ministry of reconciliation” apart from relationships? (Col 1:19-20; Eph 2:11-22; Romans 12:4-5; Eph 5:29)
- What old approaches to relationships do you need to get rid of? What old behaviors in relationships do you keep revisiting when you know you should have got rid of them?
- Is there a relationship in your life that needs to be corrected by employing some forgiveness? (Acts 8:21-23; Mark 11:25)
- What relationship building attitude should you work on? Make an action list for yourself and do some relationship building research to develop ideas on how to be better at your own relationships.
Father thank you, that You sent Jesus so that I can have a relationship with You. Thank you Jesus, for paying my debt of sin and clothing me in the righteous robes of Jesus Christ for all eternity. Thank you for also showing me that I still need to do the work of taking off my old self and putting on behavior and attitudes that reflect who I am in Christ right now. Help me Lord to examine my relationship building behavior and attitudes and thank you Holy Spirit that You are there to help me get dressed in this new clothing.
Next: Invest in Good Undergarments
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Building Bridges for Stronger Relationships
Get Rid of Excess Baggage