When we visit my grandmother, she occasionally likes to take us shopping for new clothes. I used to protest because we always go to more expensive stores than I normally shop at, but I’ve realized it pleases her to spoil us a little. When I open my closet back home, it is a treat to choose the new things that are prettier and more well made than what I normally purchase for myself.
But I also notice that after a few weeks, I begin choosing my old clothes more often. Even though they look a little drab compared to the new, they’re comfortable because I’ve worn them so often. I know just how they fit, I know just how to mix and match them, I just know them. As pretty as the new things always are, they’re a little stiff since they’re new. And sometimes it’s just easier to go with what I know and what’re more comfortable in the moment, especially when I’m tired or busy.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12
God tells us in Colossians that He has chosen us out of love to be new creations in Him. We are to put off our old selves — for me, my easily irritated, impatient, perfectionist, anxious, sarcastic self — and clothe ourselves with things that look more like Jesus. As Isaiah 61:10 says, Jesus is literally giving us His robes of righteousness. This is expensive. These new clothes came at a cost I could never afford myself, in that Christ died to give them to me.
Just like the clothes my grandmother gives us, I should revel in these new traits. I should be throwing off my old self to slip into the more radiant, more beautiful clothes of Christ.
But just like with my actual clothes, my heart begins to fall back into what I know. What’s comfortable. What is my go-to when I’m too tired, too busy, too stressed to make a better choice. I leave His beautiful clothes untouched sometimes because it’s just easier to do what I know.
But God is not going to dress me Himself. Sometimes I wish He would. I pray to be more patient, more loving, more content as if I think He will magically transform my heart with no effort on my part.
But what I see in Colossians is the truth that these things come as the result of my choosing them. Jesus gives them to me freely, but I have to choose to put them on.
Even when I’m tired, even when I’m stressed, I have to choose to wear the new clothes and not slip into the old. Because let’s face it: the old clothes are ugly. They’re worn thin and aren’t attractive to anybody. The new clothes will never wear out. They’re beautiful and attractive to people looking for kindness, mercy, love and forgiveness.
So my prayer is no longer for God to dress me. He’s already provided new clothes of righteousness. My prayer now is for the strength and presence of heart to choose not to think and act in the comfortable, old ways, but to choose to put on the new things of Christ every moment, trusting that they will become more and more comfortable with daily wear.
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10