Each of us, daily, clothe ourselves. At least, I think we all do!
What we wear each day is often influenced by the activity of the day, though over the last 12 months that fact has likely been diluted for many of us!
In ‘normal’ times we might put smarter clothes on if we were going to a party or the theatre; more casual clothes if we’re catching up with a friend; older, more worn out clothes if we’re gardening or decorating; more comfy clothes if we’re relaxing with a book of in front of the TV.
With the daily ritual of clothing ourselves, comes the purpose we are clothing ourselves for.
In Colossians, we read words that encourage us to clothe ourselves, not in socks, shirts and skirts, but virtues that help us to live fruitful lives which nurture and build us and each other up.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.Colossians 3:12-15
The Hebrew verb that can occasionally be understood to mean a change of clothes is more commonly translated as renew. I wonder, when these words in Colossians were written in Greek, if this Hebrew word play was also in mind.
These virtues were alternative and subversive in the militaristic society where power and dominance were seen as the signs of success.
But the call to live in the fruitfulness of these virtues was because of a new activity and purpose – one that would lead to a renewed and transformed way of living that was disticntive and alternative, and intrinsically intentional.
These virtues are not simply about niceness, the niceness and goodness that perhaps comes somewhat naturally and passively. They are about real, intentional discipleship. Being committed and disciplined to clothing our character around the life and character of Jesus – with the ever-present help of God’s Spirit.
And through that renewing of ourself, the constant attentiveness to how we clothe ourselves in light of the renewing Spirit of God in us, we bear fruit which nurtures and build us and each other up.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:17