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Have You Checked Your Wardrobe Lately?
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . . but above all these things put on love. COLOSSIANS 3:12--14 NKJV
Like everybody else, I have to get up and get dressed every day. Too often I go to my closet and throw my hands in the air: 'I don't have anything to wear!' My husband, Bill, shakes his head and laughs. 'No really,' I whine, peering into my closet and surveying the rod of hangers drooping with weight.
'This jacket is too worn,' I say to myself. 'It's got little fuzz balls all over it. This dress has gotten too small. That blouse hangs wrong at the shoulders; why did I let my sister talk me into buying it? This little number is totally outdated; I can't wear that. The blue sweater is the wrong color for my skin, and the pink one has a stain. Here's a good blouse, but I always feel frumpy in it. This one's uncomfortable; it chafes. This skirt is too long. This one's too short . . .'
I sit on the edge of my bed and pout: 'Nothing to wear!' Bill is already back in the kitchen, oblivious to my dismay. Seasons come and go. Clothing styles change. Differ-ent regions of my anatomy fluctuate in size. Fabrics wear thin, fade, and lose their appeal. Good thing I have another closet with unlimited choices. I have a wardrobe that will never fade, wear out, or go out of style. Best of all, these clothes fit perfectly each time I pull them out and put them on. Have you checked your spiritual wardrobe lately? Recently a friend sent me a reminder about the apostle Paul's list describing the garments of the Holy Spirit in his letter to Colossian believers. First on his list is tender mercies. Also known as compassion, tender mercies are acts of empathy for weak or hurting people. They are usually motivated by feeling the same kind of pain as oth-ers or being able to imagine it. I call tender mercies the underwear of God's wardrobe---personal and next-to-the-skin. They are the foundation for everything that goes on the outside. Next on Paul's list is kindness. Everyone can use a warmhearted deed as simple as a smile. But kindness is more than that. It is an attitude that becomes part of your lifestyle. It involves treating others with honor and significance. The attitude of kindness is everyday stuff like a great pair of sneakers. Not frilly. Not fancy. Just simple and comfortable. Humility is next. No matter how much we win or lose in life, God wraps us in a beautiful cloak of grace. When we're humiliated, he loves us exactly as we are. When we're in the limelight, we understand the big part he played in our success. Meekness is one of my favorite things to wear. Some people think it's nondescript, but I disagree. Meekness makes it possible to endure difficult circumstances and poor treatment at the hands of others. It is a durable garment with interesting textures. And meekness looks different on everyone! How about long-suffering? Sometimes I wish that old rag would just wear out so I could get something more glamorous and colorful. But I know God has fashioned even this to enhance my life. There are times when long-suffering is the only appropriate thing to wear for a particular occasion---and then I'm glad it's in the closet.
Bearing with others and forgiveness are the outerwear of God's designs. They are the last things we pull on over everything else before we go out into the world. It would get awfully cold without them. They protect us from the elements and keep the wind from blowing down our necks. As we go in and out of various experiences, we button them up often and keep trudging.
Above all else, Paul says, put on love. Without this, we are never fully dressed. You might think of love as your best hat or the jeweled pin on the lapel of life. It is that one essential accessory you should never leave behind. Dust it off, shine it up. Never go out without it!
Put away the shabby clothing of the past and enjoy all the garments in your spiritual wardrobe. Dress like the woman God made you to be. He replaces sackcloth and ashes for garments of praise!
Dear God, thank you for the garments of grace you've prepared for me. I like your style. When I'm feeling poor and ragged, I'll remember you keep your children well dressed. Amen.