Get Dressed: 6 Things Christians Should Be Wearing

Normally, packing for a weekend at my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving is fairly cut and dry: jeans or shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. Due to unseasonably cooler weather for her location plus plans to eat out, this time our clothing choices ran the gamut, from short sleeves and shorts, to sweaters and jackets, to dress shirts and slacks, to skirts and heels. While my husband and I can typically fit our clothing for the weekend into a shared overnight bag, this time we each had a separate piece of luggage. I even brought along a shoe bag to accommodate three choices of footwear.

This got me thinking about how the New Testament lists several items with which we, as followers of Christ, should clothe ourselves. It even includes things we should set aside and put away permanently. Take a look:

Colossians 3:9 instructs, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:12 continues, urging us to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

1 Peter 3:3-4 emphasizes what is truly attractive as we ready ourselves for each day. “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Additionally, 1 Peter 5:5b admonishes each of us to Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Ephesians 4:21b-24 advises followers of Christ, “…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Matthew 11:28-30 contains a special instruction given by Christ Himself to His disciples (meaning all who would seek to follow Him—including us). Here, Jesus tells us to “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

While this list is not exhaustive by any means, (Ephesians Chapter 6 includes adding the entire Armor of God) let’s take a concentrated look at what’s listed here:

  • Our new nature: this is the new spiritual nature which we receive when we accept Christ as Savior. While we don’t often radically change all at once, as we learn more about His nature and as we spend time in His presence, we become more like Him. This process is known as sanctification.

  • Compassionate hearts: I confess that before forming a relationship with Christ, I was not a very compassionate person. Over the years I have learned compassion from observing dear friends who model it well. Additionally, as I’ve gotten older, lived through more, and become closer to Jesus, He is opening my capacity for compassion in ways I never thought possible.

  • Kindness: Followers of Christ are to be kind, and not just to those who treat us well. Putting on the spirit of our heavenly Father (Col.3:9) empowers us to be kind and demonstrate kindness in a way that is not possible in our carnal selves. It truly is as if we are clothing ourselves with this feature.

  • Humility and Meekness: Matthew Henry, a late-17th and early 18th-century author and minister, wrote that “Meekness is calm confidence, settled assurance, and rest of the soul. It is the tranquil stillness of a soul that is at rest in Christ. It is the place of peace. Meekness springs from a heart of humility, radiating the fragrance of Christ.”. Rather than equated with weakness, meekness holds a position of strength.

  • Patience: Also called forbearance, patience is the quality of being willing to endure. Whether it is health problems, financial insecurity, or dealing with difficult people, patience is a tangible virtue, attainable when we connect with the Holy Spirit regularly.

  • Gentleness and a Quiet Spirit: Like meekness, gentleness is not akin to weakness or being a doormat; rather, it is a quality of being in control of one’s emotions and choosing to act in tenderness. Strength isn’t equated with ferocity, hot-temperedness, or bullying. Quiet strength comes from the confidence of knowing that the God of the universe loves you and has your back.

  • Righteousness and Holiness: Take note here, that this is not a call to self-righteousness or holier-than-thou-ness. Romans 3:10 reminds us that in our own ability, “None is righteous, no, not one.”; however, upon reading a little further, Romans 3:21-22 expounds on this by explaining, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” In other words, through our faith in Jesus, God imparts His righteousness to us.

  • The yoke of Jesus: A yoke would have been very familiar to the Jesus’s audience, but it is less familiar to us now. Briefly, it is usually a wooden crossbeam that is fastened over the necks of two animals. It is attached to a plow being pulled behind the animals. If a farmer had a smaller, weaker, or less experienced ox or other beast of burden, he would yoke the weaker animal to the stronger one; in this way, the stronger ox would shoulder the majority of the burden, while the smaller one learned. That animal would have the easy, light burden while he learned. Jesus intends to shoulder our difficult burdens while we learn from him and grow to be like Him.

Just like packing for a trip requiring several outfits, there are many items with which we should prepare to clothe ourselves as disciples of Christ. Each piece is beneficial to us and to others. Each piece comes to fit us better and better as we cooperate with the sanctification process; that is, as we grow in our relationship with Christ, spending time with Him through prayer and meditation on His words. It is in this time and closeness to Him that these items with which we clothe ourselves become as comfortable to us as our favorite shirt.