Special occasions often call for new clothes.
My closet is stocked with well-worn favorites, but because I’m not very good at fashion and I don’t love shopping, most of them aren’t what you’d consider on the cutting edge of fashion. My teenager is fond of telling me when I’ve crossed the line into the “no one is wearing that anymore” zone. So when I received an invitation to a book launch party for a popular author, I decided I needed something new to wear.
The event was outdoors in the Texas heat. This limited my selection to breathable fabrics, lightweight dresses, and modest shorts. I don’t care for crazy patterns, skinny straps, or short hemlines. With my personal guidelines in mind, I dragged my kids in and out of several stores, looking for the perfect outfit.
Shopping for clothes with kids in tow is its own special kind of fun. I tried clothes on as quickly as possible while simultaneously dragging my son back under dressing room doors. I grew weary of the dressing room circus act, so I started trying things on right over my own clothes in the middle of the store. I slipped dresses and shirts over my head, looked down at the crumpled fit, and quickly hung them back on their hangers. After repeating this on-and-off routine several times, I gave up in frustration and exhaustion. I decided to wear an old dress to the party.
Outfits are not meant to be worn two at a time, so my quick-change technique wasn’t ideal for finding the perfect outfit for a special occasion. Dresses poked out funny around my hips because the pants underneath prevented them from flowing smoothly. Sleeves puckered uncomfortably around my shoulders when I tried on a blouse over my T-shirt. You can’t get a good fit without first removing the old clothes.
We find a spiritual parallel in Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae. Paul admonished believers to wear one outfit at a time.
“You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete” (Colossians 3:9-11 MSG).
Just as a “what not to wear” article in a fashion magazine does, Paul gives us a list of what to take off: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, greed, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language (Colossians 3:5, 8). These are sinful behaviors and attitudes that can be characteristic of our lives before Christ. Once we take off these old things, the new fits so much better.
We aren’t left to guess what our new wardrobe should look like. It includes Christian characteristics such as love, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, and forgiveness (Colossians 3:12–13). God doesn’t ask us to put on a new wardrobe without giving us the power to do it. He gives us his Word, the Bible, to instruct us, and he gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us in this new way of living.
If you feel as though some of these Christian characteristics are ill-fitting, assess what might be underneath. Do you still have on some of the old underneath the new? Taking off those old, sinful practices will make the new fit so much better.
Kelly Smith is a small town girl who married a small town man. They have three children. In the quiet minutes of her day, you will find her at the keyboard or curled up with a book–always with coffee. Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking in the shadow of the cross. She blogs at mrsdisciple.com.
Photograph © Chan Y, used with permission