Text: Colossians 3:12-15
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14 ESV)
“Who are you wearing?” That’s a question reporters often ask celebrities at Hollywood red carpet events to decipher which designer brand they are donning. The clothes that we wear can say a lot about us. Clothing can reflect a person’s mood, priorities, socioeconomic status, and even values. Our garbs often make statements about our personalities or a certain way of life—our humor, our social causes, our faith, our favorite sports teams, or our musical interests. Attire can say just about anything these days. The lack of it can also say something!
In the ancient world clothing had similar expressions. The New Testament uses clothing imagery to describe different aspects of our relationship with God.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul uses this imagery to emphasize our union with Christ at spiritual rebirth; “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27 ESV) The language of “putting on,” as used of clothing, suggests taking on a new life and purpose through being spiritually united with Christ.
Clothing imagery also portrays how a believer can live a victorious life that is pleasing to God each day. Believers are instructed to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:14 ESV)
I appreciate J. B. Philips' translation of this verse: Let us be Christ's men from head to foot, and give no chance to the flesh to have its fling. Similar to how a mother might tell her children to bundle up before going outside on a cold wintry day, the Bible encourages us to dress our souls with an inward grace, to adorn ourselves in the spiritual garments of Christ. This, so that we don’t give way to the gratification of the flesh.
To the Colossians, Paul writes:
“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. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV)
We are to dress ourselves each day with compassion toward the afflicted, the destitute, and the distressed. We are to put on kindness toward our neighbor. We are to be clothed in humility so that pride doesn’t overtake our ambition. We are to don meekness so that “under whatever injuries or provocations you may receive,” you are restrained from “returning evil for evil, railing for railing, and from resenting any injury that may be done to you” (Benson Commentary). We need garments of patience to endure unforeseen trials and unexpected hardship, forgiveness to protect us from the exposure of bitterness, and love that the world may know that we are truly his disciples (John 13:35).
We can’t choose the world that we wake up to each morning, but we most certainly can choose how we will dress for success. Let us choose wisely from the wardrobe with which Christ has fitted us.
Heavenly Father, our world can be a very tumultuous place to live in at times. The conditions can overtake us if we aren’t dressed properly. Help us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ today so that we may be clothed in the garments of his grace and virtue, and give no occasion to gratify the desires of our flesh. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
We can’t choose the world that we wake up to each morning, but we most certainly can choose how we will dress for success. Tweet this
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- Why do you think Paul used this imagery of clothing to portray our need to abide in Jesus?
- In what ways can you intentionally “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” each day?
- What are you facing right now that makes dressing this way difficult? How can you overcome this so that you can dress for success this week?
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