The forecast was clear: it was going to be a sweltering day. No clouds in the sky. Get the sunscreen out. Wear a hat and sunglasses.
Unfortunately, I was scheduled to attend a meeting where shorts wouldn’t cut it. It would need to be long pants/trousers, smart shoes and an ironed shirt for the occasion. I felt sweaty already. Later, when my wife and I finished our meeting, we jumped in the car as soon as we could.
There were items we needed to buy from a hardware store on the way home, so we parked the car and walked in. It felt even hotter inside the warehouse despite the air conditioning and I couldn’t wait to get home, throw my shirt off and change my clothes.
I remember another time several years prior, visiting London in the UK in the middle of winter and feeling the biting cold wind through a very unsuitable, thin rain-jacket.
In both of these scenarios, I was wearing the wrong clothes.
Paul talks about taking off some garments and putting on others in his letter to the Colossians (3: 5 – 14). He reminds them that they have ‘taken off’ their old selves – who they were and what they did before knowing Christ (v 9, see also 2: 11). Instead, they have ‘put on the new self’, a spiritual piece of clothing that enjoys continual renewal as their knowledge of God grows (v 10).
Embracing this new coat in their daily lives the Colossians can also ‘clothe themselves’ with Christ’s compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (v 12). Dressed from the right wardrobe – the daily provision of God’s grace through prayer and His Word – they have the power to bear with one another and forgive each other. They can ‘put on’ love (v 14) because that coat sits on a hanger, already paid for and ready for use.
It seems to me in this passage that God is telling us (through Paul) to put on what he has already given us. We have a whole new wardrobe of spiritual blessings at no cost to us. The freedom to live a new life was paid for on the cross, but unless we take hold of them unless we take steps to put them on, like pushing our arms into the sleeves of a new jacket, they will be like undiscovered gifts, hanging in a closet with the door shut.
Paul doesn’t want to see anyone in his churches dressed inappropriately or hanging on to an old shirt that needs to be burned. He wants these followers of Christ to fully embrace everything God has for them – free from the soiled clothes of sin and selfishness, but clean and beautiful in the garments of our salvation. Perhaps God wants the same for us.
God has given us a stunning new outfit – a new life in Christ Jesus. Do we put it on, proudly, every day or do we think about rummaging around for some of our old clothes?
Is it time to do some throwing out?
God bless – Terry