by Karen DeArmond Gardner @kgardnerwrites
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14 NASB
I love clothes. And not just clothes, but everything that completes my entire look: shoes, jewelry, and other accessories! I am purposeful in what I put on when I go out. Do I want to be comfortable or dress to impress?
Let’s face it−we women don’t dress for the attention of men, but dress in hopes of impressing or gaining approval of other women. Have you been the recipient of the once over from another woman? Their look either says, I like what you are wearing or, did you really walk out of the house in that outfit? Have you ever found yourself just staring at another woman’s outfit? My husband has caught me staring or doing the once over a few times and indicated so with a tiny nudge.
Like it or not, we are judged by what we wear. Have you ever been under-dressed or over-dressed for an event? Awkward! Like it or not, what we wear matters.
There’s another way we can dress for success. In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us to throw off our old nature and instead be renewed by the Spirit in our thoughts and attitudes, conforming what we wear with our new nature. We are to take off our old ratty clothes and don the new.
In Colossians 3, Paul gets specific about what to put on. Our clothing is to be tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and above all, love. And let’s not forget about forgiveness!
Expressing my new nature by my behavior is something I determine, just as I choose what clothes I wear. By not choosing mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love, we are choosing meanness, violence, pride, agitation, blame, punishment and hatred. That is not the wardrobe fit for a daughter of the King!
Tenderhearted mercy is soft-hearted compassion towards someone who has hurt or offended me. Kindness is the act of being considerate towards others. Showing humility happens when I put others above myself. I wear gentleness by not being severe, rough, or violent. Patience keeps me steady and even-tempered.
Paul takes it one step further and tells us to make allowance for others’ faults and forgive. I refrain from showing my annoyance, choosing to love the one who has offended or hurt me. And just in case I think this is more than I can do, Paul reminds me that Jesus did all this and more for me.
If I am not purposeful in how I dress each day, I am like the Emperor in Hans Christian Anderson’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes, who thought he was dressed in all his finery, but was really parading around in his boxers. I am only fooling myself. Everyone around me will clearly see where my priorities lie and whom I am living for.
What are you wearing today?
About the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.
Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.
Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.
Join the conversation: Which of Paul’s “garments” seem to you the most important to wear?