Mark Twain once said: Clothes make the man. What do you think? Was ZZ Top correct in their postulation that every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man? Well I’m not sure about either of those, but I think Paul would agree that what you put on matters.
Hi there, it’s Sarah with you today on Anchored Daily and it’s a pleasure to go through Colossians 3 together. Paul has spent chapters one and two establishing who Christ is and our identity in Christ. Now in chapter three, he starts to get practical. But he begins connecting all of what he says in chapter three to the beginning of the letter. “IF then” he says, “you have been raised with Christ…” basically keep in mind what I already said. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” He’s trying to remind us that the eternal and the truth of who you are because of Christ is more important than the things we see on a daily basis. This is a foundation for all of the practical instruction he’s going to give. Essentially, this isn’t a checklist; it’s about who you are and whose you are, not what you do or what you see.
He begins using this word picture of putting off the old and putting on the new, like clothes.
It reminds me of a time when I was a foreign exchange student in Germany. My friend group was a bunch of girls and boys and they came up with this idea to do two dinners. One would be pajama dinner, everyone would wear pajamas and the girls would cook for the group. The second would be formal dinner, everyone would wear their nicest clothes and the boys would cook. I honestly can’t remember what we ate, but the pajama dinner was loud and casual, lots of laughter, snarky comments, and fun. The formal dinner was quiet, almost awkwardly so, everyone used their best manners, they sat up straighter, and the boys were more polite than I’d ever witnessed them to be. I was astonished at the difference between the two evenings. It was striking how the same group of people could behave so differently. There’s actually a word for it: enclothed cognition. It’s the influence clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. Paul was so ahead of his time.
The things Paul calls us to put off include: anger, wrath, malice, slander, deceit. Then he calls us to put on things like: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, forgiveness, and love. The thing I love about this is that we change our clothes daily. We are frequently putting things on and off, especially this time of year. Jacket in the morning because it’s cold, jacket off and hat on in the afternoon because it’s sunny, jacket back on because it just got windy, and so it goes.
I think Paul knows that we’ll find ourselves “wearing” things that don’t line up with our identity. And like the jacket when it’s sunny or an ill-fitting pair of shoes; it’s time to put it off.
Oh, side note, the entire Mark Twain quote actually goes, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Joking aside, you can’t just put off all of the bad things and not put something else on. Something will stick, so let’s be purposeful to be putting on something in place of what’s been put off. Wrath goes off, kindness goes on. Deceit goes off, humility goes on.
The cool thing is that the things we wear start to change our behavior. Maybe forgiveness will feel uncomfortable at first, but as you settle in, you might see that it’s helping you step into your identity in Christ. Keep putting it on. It’s like Paul knows that we need to pay attention daily to what we’re wearing. He’s not shaming us or coercing us, he’s introducing a new rhythm perhaps.
Maybe we have to take off anger every day. It’s not who you are any more. Keep putting it off. And maybe you feel like an imposter putting on compassion when you haven’t been the compassionate type before. Give it time; keep putting it on, you’ll grow into it.
Do you sense the Holy Spirit convicting you about something that needs to be put off today? Do you know what needs to be put on in its place? Maybe that’s something to pray about.
Just remember, like Paul said at the beginning, that it’s not about what you see, it’s about who you are in Christ that matters. We don’t put on and put off to look better to the people around us. We dress appropriately because we are heirs with Christ, raised from death to new life.
Would you pray with me? Lord, you have made me a new creation. Help me put on my new identity in Christ daily as many times as it takes. When I fall into my old self, remind me to keep putting it off. May the peace of Christ rule in our hearts as the word of Christ dwells in us richly. Amen.