Jeans. T-shirt or old sweater. No shoes.
That is my idea of a good “clothes” day. I love feeling cozy and comfortable. And I must admit – I dress that way often. Thankfully, my husband likes me in that attire, too – so it’s a win-win situation.
But lately, I’ve been mixing it up a little. I’m wearing my nicer pants, Sunday sweaters (on days other than Sunday!) and button down shirts. And *gasp!*, I’ve fixed my hair a little differently. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been using a bit of styling gel, too.
Even last month, when I had an awful virus, I stepped it up and dressed as if I had somewhere to go other than the bathroom.
I’m not wearing any make-up (that takes too long!) nor extra jewelry (just my wedding ring and my signature hoop earrings). I haven’t had a facial. I haven’t had a facelift. I’ve just made some minor changes.
And my husband, who doesn’t usually pay attention to such detail, has noticed. He has complimented me amid his bewilderment. “What’s different about you?” he asks, staring at me intently. “What are you doing to yourself? You look really good!” (And yes, he is the king of backhanded compliments. I just nod and say “Thank you, dear.”)
It’s amazing how a small wardrobe change can cause such a difference. But what if that’s all I ever do? What if all I ever do is to change my outer appearance?
In First Peter 5:5, we are advised on a wardrobe change…but it pertains to something other than button down shirts and dress pants. This wardrobe change pertains to our spiritual clothing.
“…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)
Humility. I don’t know about you, but for me –I don’t always want humility to come in my size. It’s not comfortable. It’s not cozy. It’s not even stylish or hip. It’s seems like it’s hard to put on and maybe even hard to maintain. It’s more like one of those “dry clean only” outfits. You know, the ones you need, but can’t throw in the wash with everything else.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I don’t want to wear it. I’m just saying I don’t always know HOW to wear it. It’s foreign to me – much like it is to most people.
A friend of mine gave me a book to read. It’s title? Humility by Andrew Murray. My friend is one who always seems to tell me what I need to hear…but not always what I want to hear. And right now – I’m not very happy with her for giving me this book. I’m especially unhappy with her after reading what Murray says (on page 2),
“Humility, the place of entire dependence on God…”
Wow. That sentence is a loaded one. Entire dependence on God? I like to think that I depend on Him totally. But the truth is, I don’t. I tend to defend my actions, inactions and reactions with my own brand of reasoning. Much of the time, I depend on my feelings (which we all know can lie!) to direct my decision making. To put it simply, I depend on me. As I type up the truth of the situation, I find that it’s not a very comforting thought.
So why do I find it so hard to be clothed in humility? I sometimes equate humility with being a doormat. But that is not what the bible says. Colossians 3:12-14 says,
12-14So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (The Message)
Jesus was not a doormat. He made the choice to serve and forgive. In chapter 6 of his book, Murray comments on the Colossians 3:12.
“It is in our relation to one another, in our treatment of one another, that the true lowliness of mind and the heart of humility are to be seen. Our humility before God has no value, but as it prepares us to reveal the humility of Jesus to our fellow-men. Let us study humility in daily life in the light of these words.”
That’s some deep revelation…and I’m not sure I can wrap my mind around it all. But one thing I have gleaned so far. Humility frees us to love those around us without reservation.
Jesus is the perfect example of this. Depending wholly on God to keep His promises, Jesus chose not to command a legion of angels (who were created to serve him) to destroy those who were nailing him to a cross. He chose to stand in our place, be humiliated, tortured and killed. He humbled himself…and God raised Him. He was exalted!
Did He choose to humble himself because He wanted to be exalted? That would be contrary to humility wouldn’t it? His motives were pure. The bible says He humbled himself out of LOVE. If the Son of God chose to humble himself and serve us…shouldn’t we follow his leading, humbling ourselves and serving one another out of love for Him?
But if I look closely at my own life, what am I really clothing myself in?
Am I impatient? Rude? Hot-tempered? Do I react with anger instead of a gentle word? Do I use my “right” to defend my position…or do I pray for unity? If I’m doing anything other than depending solely on the Lord – then I am stripping myself of the very thing that should clothe my heart…the humility of Christ.
My outer wardrobe is more stylish – it’s true. My hair is looking fabulous…I can’t deny it. But I Samuel 16:7 says that man sees the outer…but God sees the heart. I suppose that means he’s not all that impressed with my new ‘do or Sunday sweaters. When others see me, they need to see Jesus, not me. I need be clothed in humility first and foremost –regardless of how cute my outerwear is…or isn’t.
I can’t say I’m going to forego the hair gel or the fancy pants. But I can say I want to strive for a deeper beauty and a deeper walk with the one who sees the inner me – and loves me anyway.
Humility – complete dependence on God. An entirely new wardrobe to learn to wear. It’s not going to be easy, getting rid of the old one. Pride is such a popular brand! But I know it’s going to worth it. And just in case you’re wondering, – one size (His size) does fit all…
Humility by Andrew Murray (Published by Bridge-Logos)
The Bible (the Message and NIV)