As much as we like to deny it, our clothing identifies us. People like to think that it doesn’t matter what you wear and that everyone remembers that everyone is equal no matter how much their outfit cost, but I just don’t think that’s the case. I wish it were.
I’ve never been into fashion. Actually, I have always run away from it screaming. Anything related to fashion, I usually pretend that it doesn’t exist, mainly because I see it as a waste of time. But that’s my philosophy, and a lot of other people don’t feel that way about it. And that’s perfectly fine. That’s just my choice. I have a style that’s my own, I suppose; I don’t know if it’s a good style or a fashionable style, but it’s mine. And I’m perfectly pleased with it. But it’s interesting how the clothes I wear identify me to other people.
The best example I can give is my latest work trip to Florida. I came home to Wichita, and it was freezing. I had expected to get to go directly home from the airport, but it was late and I had to be in early the next day. So I spent the night in town and went to work from my parents’ house. However, I didn’t have my coat. It was still at my house. So I went to work wearing my mom’s coat — which is quite a bit different in style than my own. It’s not ugly by any means. It’s actually very cute — and it’s very cute on her — but on me it just looked odd. I didn’t really think about it, though. It was warm, and I was off to work, accompanied also by a giant blue scarf and a pair of pink gloves. And it confused everyone at work, and they wondered what was going on because I never wear colors like that.
Once I explained that I had left my coat at home and was borrowing my mom’s, they all laughed. Actually, we all laughed. It was really funny. One person I worked with told me, “I thought you were looking a lot more colorful than usual.”
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they were really right. I don’t wear overstated colors and I don’t wear flashy things. That’s just my style. Understated. I prefer it that way. I don’t like people looking at me. And I’m perfectly all right with that. It was just fascinating to me.
So it’s doubly fascinating to read Colossians 3:12 when it talks about putting on clothes of a different kind:
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
It’s interesting, I think, that God chooses to use the word clothe in this context, referring to these character qualities like they’re something to wear.
When you wake up in the morning, do you think about what you put on? I do. I mean, I don’t plan out my wardrobe the day before or anything, but I don’t just pick the first thing I come to and put it on. It wouldn’t match and it wouldn’t look right. I have no fashion sense, but I know that much. And, working a corporate job, I have to keep up a certain level of professionalism, especially in my appearance. So I have to think about what I’m going to wear and make a conscious decision to choose things that match.
It’s the same thing with these character qualities. These things aren’t just going to appear in our lives automatically. You have to choose to put them in effect in your life. Mercy is the least automatic virtue in the world. Kindness and gentleness may be a little easier for some people who are just kind-hearted, but I guarantee no one immediately volunteers to be humble. And patience is one of those things that requires a lifetime to build. We have to choose to use each of these things in our lives just as carefully as we select our clothing that we’re going to wear for the day. Why?
People identify you by the clothing you’re wearing. So if you wear these virtues like clothing, people will know you belong to God. And, what’s really nice, is that these traits never go out of style.