Hardly anyone forgets to put on clothes before going to work or school in the morning. In fact, some of us are very meticulous when it comes to getting dressed. We shop at our favorite stores, we are particular about colors, and we carefully select just the right tie to go with the right suit, or a certain colored blouse to go with a certain skirt.
If we’re honest, we spend a lot of time adorning ourselves with clothes and accessories — perhaps too much time. Many are obsessed with being well dressed.
Confessions of a Well-Dressed Believer
Due to my profession, I confess that my morning routine largely consists of getting dressed for work. I put a lot of thought and time into how I look. I even review my calendar to make sure that my outfit is appropriate for the various events planned. I won’t leave the house in the morning until I’m satisfied that I’m appropriately dressed for the day. Yet, somehow, in all my meticulous fervor, I often neglect to put on the most important thing:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. . . . And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12, 14)
Christians are called to live a holy lifestyle consistent with their new identity in Christ. Paul wanted believers to wear the virtues of Christ as they might wear clothes — consistently, meticulously, and in a way that communicates something about who they are and what they value.
What You Wear Matters
Many struggle to consistently seek the Lord in private prayer and Bible study. We’re wide-awake when getting dressed, scrolling through Facebook, watching television — but as soon as we pick up our Bibles, we began to drift off.
As a lawyer, first impressions are indeed lasting, and part of making a good first impression on a client, judge, or colleague is looking every bit like a consummate professional who is competent and knows what he’s talking about. What I wear and how I wear it communicates something about who I am and what I value. The things my clothing communicates to others, for better or worse, do matter because they inform how other people view, treat, and talk about me.
Paul likely understood this. He understood that the way the Colossian believers lived and portrayed themselves would inform the way people around them viewed, treated, and talked about Jesus. Their Christian virtues, or lack thereof, were a witness to the redeeming grace, beauty, and power of Christ. So Paul admonished them to make what they wore a priority if they truly had died to sin and had been “raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1).
Self-Promotion vs. Christ-Exaltation
We must dress ourselves in holiness to profess that Jesus is all-satisfying and the greatest Treasure in the universe. We spend time and energy each morning obsessing over our appearance or simply oversleeping instead of engaging in spiritual disciplines that adorn our thoughts and actions with godly virtues.
Fancy clothes may undoubtedly commend us to the world, but it’s our humility that will point people to the God who humbled himself by taking human form, becoming a servant, and dying on a cross (Philippians 2:5–8). Our genuine compassion for the lost, hurt, and broken will lead a fallen world to know the heart of the one who so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to rescue them from sin, death, and hell at infinite cost to himself (John 3:16). Other Christians will only see God’s kindness and patience when we’re willing to bear with their shortcomings and forgive their sins against us (Colossians 3:13).
We should spend infinitely more time putting on the virtues of Christ in the morning than obsessing over temporal things because the world needs to see Jesus more than it needs to see us.
It’s acceptable and commendable for Christians to value the way we look on the outside. But since we’re Christians and our passion is to make much of our Savior to the joy of all peoples, being well dressed in the virtues of Christ is of eternal importance. It does us no good to be whitewashed tombs — beautiful on the outside, but full of death and decay on the inside.
A sloppy appearance in public speaks volumes about who we are and what we value, whether we want it to or not. Similarly, sloppy or non-existent time studying our Bibles, praying, and communing with our God each day means our godly virtues will be sloppy to nonexistent. We’ll fail, by our words, actions, and lifestyles, to speak volumes about a glorious God that the world desperately needs to know.