Dress Right, Feel Right

This little phrase from Paul’s letter to the earlier followers of Christ in Colossae has never really made sense to me:

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

I mean, I get the main idea – try to be more patient, kind, etc. – but how do I do this? What does it look like? I even know that the word “put on” comes from a Greek word that literally means “put on clothes” (that's why some translations use the phrase “clothe yourself”), but in my experience, the “putting on” is not so easy! Simply trying harder to be kind or patient doesn’t really work, at least not for me, and definitely not in the heat of the moment, when I really am angry and impatient.

But this morning, two things happened. First, I was only a little anxious and upset about something, and two, I had to pick out a jacket to wear for my class.

One of the things I teach is public speaking, and one of the principles I share is the idea of putting on your best clothes any time you have to do some public speaking. Knowing that they look good gives most people a significant boost in confidence. They may still be extremely nervous, but they know that they at least look their best.

As I was picking out my own favorite jacket this morning (and feeling pretty good about it!) it hit me: maybe this is what this phrase from Colossians is all about. It’s about putting on the “clothes” that Christ makes available, choosing to wear His characteristics, not mine. On the inside, I know I am still a wreck, but when I put on His qualities, I know I look good. I’m not “faking it,” pretending to be something I am not. I am picking out of my “closet” of attitudes the qualities Christ has made available to me, things are not me but things I can put on, like a good looking jacket, because Jesus makes them available!

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