My wife frequently asks me, "Why are you wearing your old shirt (tie, pants, shoes)? You have new ones. Your old clothes are sort of out of date; maybe it's time to try on the new." My usually response is, "I like my old clothes; there's nothing wrong with them. I can still get a lot of 'milage' out of them." Well sometimes I'm simply proved wrong...
Last week I was wearing my "old shoes" as we walked through a local mall when all of a sudden my foot felt strange and I looked to discover that my shoe had fallen apart! I turned to my wife and said, "I guess you're right; it is time to put on my new shoes!"
This image of "taking off old clothes and putting on new ones" is the very image Paul uses in Colossians 3:8 and 9 when he says, "But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the the image of its Creator." One commentator explained it like this, "Paul uses a verb applied to the taking off of clothes and is thinking of certain moral characteristics as garments which can now be discarded, because ill-fitting." The point is clear: once we give our life to Christ there are certain attitudes, behaviors, uses of language, and styles of relating that are no longer appropriate. In fact, as I found out with my shoe, their continued use is bound to "trip us up."
Paul goes on to say, "As God's chose people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." He goes on to say that we should "bear with one another, forgive one another, and love one another." These are the garments of righteousness that are appropriate for followers of Christ.
Sometimes I find myself asking myself (usually as I head off to an important event) "Am I properly dressed?" It's an important question regarding my appearance. But perhaps it is also one we should ask ourselves regarding our moral and relational "appearance" as well. Day by day I am aware that there are things I need to "put off" and others that I need to "put on." (In Solution Focused Brief Therapy this is principle is known as: "if it's no longer working, try something different.")
I love it when I hear my wife say, "Your dressed so nicely." I hope these words can be applied to my attitude and "way of treating others" as well as to the clothes I wear.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.