I have been working a lot recently, hence my lack of postings. It has been an intense month of editing, which has been quite different as I usually edit and write in tandem. While it has been quite a struggle to fit the work round my parenting responsibilities, I have certainly been stretched and challenged by the subject matter of the books I have been editing. And my Bible study notes this morning seemed to build on a few of the issues raised – so I thought it was about time I spent some quality time thinking about them. This blog is the result of my initial ponderings on one…
Like many other women (I hate that I can generalise like that), I can struggle with my self-image. Post-kids I can feel self-conscious about what my daughter calls my ‘wobbly bits’ (!), and look wistfully at my younger friends’ figures. I can take a lot of time (okay not on school run mornings but any other morning, or if I’m going out!) choosing outfits that hide the bits I don’t want people to see, and make me look as presentable as possible. And yet I was really drawn up short this morning when I read about clothing my spirit.
The obvious passage about spiritual clothing is the one on the armour of God, found in Ephesians 6. And we certainly need to be intentional about putting that on, as we face daily battles. But I was also reminded of Colossians 3, in which we are exhorted to ‘wear’ another type of spiritual clothing. Here are verses 12–14 in two different versions:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
So, 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)
Now it is quite obvious, reading the passage through, that we are being instructed to ‘clothe’ our spirits – to ensure our attitudes are godly. Imagine what the world would look like if we each spent time focusing on dressing ourselves with these virtues… I have to be honest here. I know that I can be impatient – when I’m stressed and tired (hello – welcome to the world of the working parent! 😉 ) it doesn’t take long for me to get harassed. I am also ‘blessed’ with a fiery temper, which I can often just accept rather than deal with – and am certainly not gentle that often. Embarrassingly, when I was part of my great church youth group, all those years ago, a visiting speaker asked us to each take it in turns to sit in the middle of the room, encircled by our friends and then we had to speak out words of encouragement over the one in the centre. I was asked to go first, and my friends were pretty shy about speaking up so the guy tried to start the ball rolling by saying, ‘Well, is she gentle?’ No one replied – they didn’t need to as the roars of laughter said it all. I didn’t feel that encouraged to be honest… But here, in scripture, we are being told to be ‘even-tempered’, gentle and kind. That is the ‘wardrobe God picked out for you’ – and yes, for me too. I think I fall short quite often…
So, why don’t I spend time ensuring my attitudes and actions line up with scripture each morning? I’m going to challenge myself to think about this every day when I’m getting dressed. To consciously ‘dress’ my spirit as well as my body. How about it? How well dressed is your spirit today? Or do you think you need to take up this challenge too?