The decision must be made daily. What to wear today? Factors to consider include the weather, scheduled activities, and the season. For Christians, the choice is straightforward. Paul instructs believers in Romans 13:14 (AMP) to clothe themselves with Jesus. The apostle’s direction seems simple, but how does a Christian clothe himself with Christ?
In the Beginning
Interestingly, when God created the world, He did not provide man with clothes. Gen. 2:25 Despite humans’ lack of clothing, He viewed His creation of humans as “very good.” Gen. 1:31. Of course, Adam and Eve were subsequently mortified when they disobediently ate the forbidden fruit and discovered they were naked. The two hastily fashioned together a covering of fig leaves before their next meeting with God. Gen. 3:7.
The Creator of the Universe, unimpressed with Adam and Eve’s fashion sense, made them garments of skin and clothed the two. His view of how humans should be clothed significantly involved a covering obtained from a living being. Ever since the beginning man and God haven’t seen eye to eye on clothing.
Do Clothes Make the Man?
From humble beginnings with fig leaves to fancy outfits made from various manmade materials today, man’s preoccupation with clothes has grown. Clothing quickly rose to such importance that writers and thinkers early embraced the idea that “clothes make the man.” Homer was the first to express this thought in his epic poem, The Odyssey. Others who came after him, such as Erasmus, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain, heartily endorsed that concept. https://nosweatshakespeare.com/quotes/famous/clothes-make-the-man/
In its simplest terms, the phrase “clothes make the man” connotes that what we wear influences how others perceive us. To obtain positive feedback, then, one should dress for success. Don’t people put on their best outfit for a job interview? A lack of attention to appearance can lead to a poor first impression.
Clothes Send a Message
Like it or not, people form an impression of someone based on what that person wears. This reality is nothing new. Evil biblical character Haman who had it in for Mordecai and Mordecai’s people, the Jews, grasped it. When King Xerxes asked Haman how to honor a man who pleased the king, Haman didn’t have to think long. Clothe the honoree in one of the king’s royal robes and parade him through the streets so all could see his importance. Esther 6:6-10. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+6%3A6-10&version=NIV How surprised Haman must have been to find out Mordecai was the intended honoree!
Even today the clothes someone sports convey a message. Taylor Swift clad in a Kansas City Chiefs’ jacket sends a clear signal she’s interested in a certain charming tight end playing for that NFL team. https://www.usmagazine.com/stylish/news/taylor-swift-wears-jacket-from-erin-andrews-line-at-chiefs-game/.
What Clothes Does Paul Mean Christians Should Wear?
The apostle who spent time in prison, shipwrecked on an island, and traveling about the biblical world surely didn’t give much thought to his wardrobe. So, when he urged the believers in Rome to “clothe” themselves with Jesus Christ, Paul did not refer literally to clothing.
One of the dictionary definitions of the verb “clothe” means to “cover as with clothing.” https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/clothe. Using this perspective, Paul instructed believers to array themselves with the essence of Jesus. He didn’t refer to fibers but to the fiber of our Savior’s being. Paul’s concern did not encompass the quality of apparel worn but the individual’s qualities on display. Their appearance should resemble that of Jesus’ actions and behavior.Colossians 3:12 fleshes out the gist of the apostle’s instructions. The clothing did not involve togas, robes, or loincloths—or, in today’s parlance, dresses, suits, or shorts. Instead, Paul meant for believers to cover themselves with the characteristics of Jesus. He explains: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+3%3A12&version=NIV
What’s the Point of Paul’s Directive?
Paul’s directive circles back to the long-held belief that clothes make the man. With the acceptance of Jesus, humans become new creatures. 2 Cor. 5:17 (KJV). Being clothed in Jesus makes a believer who he then is. Accepting Jesus truly makes the man. Further, Jesus, a living being, died to provide that covering for us like the animal whose skin God used to provide covering for Adam and Eve.
Believers convey a message by what they wear. They go into the world and display the good news by being clothed in Christ. Their humility, kindness, patience, and other such qualities are even more eye-catching than the latest fashion. Paul probably wouldn’t begrudge believers wearing a t-shirt with a Christian message, but actions resembling what Jesus speaks volumes more. What are YOU wearing today?