It’s that time of year when people wear ugly sweaters to parties and jingle bell earrings and fun hats and matching jammies on Christmas morning. Every day of the year, we think about what to wear, and at this time of year, what we wear can reflect the joy and fun of the holiday season. I was reading some Scripture today, and while the passages I read didn’t address the wearing of ugly sweaters, they did talk about how God expects me to dress.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
Just like a person on a job interview is making a statement with their attire and attitude, as Christians, we are also making a statement not only in the way we physically dress, but also in how we act and speak. I’m hanging these verses by my bathroom mirror so I will see them each morning as I ready myself for the day. As a mom, it is critical that I embody compassion and kindness and humility and gentleness and patience with my kids. I need to put these traits on right along with my cross necklace, for my kids and for every single other person I interact with each day. God, please forgive me for all the ways I fall short in this. (How comforting God reminds us to forgive as He does right after giving us this list. Such a knowing, loving Father, eh?) But more than just for my children, I want others to associate these traits with me—kind, compassionate, humble, patient, gentle. People I know who dress like this are approachable, friendly, willing to listen and serve, safe. I want to be like them! And this is how God wants us to live life in the world—as a reflection of His love.
So think to yourself each morning: How will I dress my heart today? With what shall I adorn the light behind my eyes? With judgment and pride? With impatience and greed? With selfishness and anxiety? With fretfulness and fear? Or perhaps with kindness and love, with compassion and humility, with patience and forgiveness?
We can’t put these things on, I suppose, unless we have them to begin with, just like I can’t wear a pair of boots that aren’t in my closet. But these sweet traits aren’t sold only at a high-end store, out of our price range and not stocked in our size. They are available to every single one of us who loves Christ. Jesus showed us what they are and gave them to us in the gift of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that filled our Lord Jesus as He hung on the cross because of His loving-kindness for us, forgiving those who were killing Him, humbly accepting punishment for crimes he didn’t commit, patiently enduring the pain and waiting for the right time to breathe His last breath, gently looking into Mary’s face and calling on a trusted disciple to care for her after His death, and finally dying to save those who could not save themselves—the ultimate act of world-changing compassion.
We aren’t given room for excuses, those of us who are chosen, holy, and dearly loved children of God. It says very directly, “Clothe yourselves.” It does not say, “If you are feeling like it today, you could wear…” Let’s remember this during Advent, as we focus on the joy of the Lord, to dress ourselves in a way that is pleasing to God, inside and out, to show people the truth of the gospel. Let’s bless the checker at the store rather than act out in unkind harshness. Let us allow others to go ahead of us in line because we’re happy to be patient, to humble ourselves to bless another. May our words on social media be kind and gentle. Let us give generously with compassion rather than spend selfishly the money God provided us in the first place. Let us quickly forgive the driver who cuts us off on the road. We should treat ALL people with care. It’s what sets us apart. In small ways and big ways, we can dress differently than the rest of the world, just like Jesus did, all because of our joy in the Lord, all to bring glory to God in the highest.
And now I’m off to see if I can find my old Christmas sweater in the back of my closet. Wearing it will be a true act of humility. 😉