Monday, 30 March 2015

Dressing for the weather {putting on spiritual clothing}

It's spring.

The clocks have changed, and the nights are getting lighter.  Beautiful bulbs and blossoms are flowering.  Birds are building nests.

Oh, and it's perishing cold.

Yup.  It's "spring" in the UK.  Unpredictable, often wet, windy, and yet, sometimes warm and bright. The joys of a temperate climate.

Totally unpredictable.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have to check the weather before deciding what I will wear.  If I wear socks and it gets warmer, I hate it.  If I DON'T wear socks, and it's cold, I equally hate it.  Hoodie, or no hoodie? Long-sleeved top, or short? all these questions.  All just to dress right.  Working out what I need to put on.

This morning I was reading in Galatians.

"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Galatians 3:27  

It was a lovely reminder of the significance of baptism. Our baptism is a sign of "putting on" Christ.  We have accepted the robes of HIS righteous, and are clothed by Him.  It's a precious consideration - a reminder that our sins are covered by the shedding of His blood, and we then want to show others of our change within.

At the dawning of  new week, my mind was drawn to a different "put on".  It was one that is a challenge to my day to day life.  It's a putting on - a clothing of myself, in a figurative sense - of something vital.

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."
Colossians 3:12-15

As a mother, and as a wife, I am challenged each day by situations various and many.  They challenge my sanctification, and I need to make sure that I am suitably clothed to deal with them.  This passage sums up a great little "wardrobe" that will "cover" all situations.

We need to clothe ourselves in mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering  (patience), forbearance (putting up with people), forgiveness, and love.

Well now, if I ever wanted to "look my best" spiritually, and be dressed for the day ahead, this is the "wardrobe" I need! That list just about sums up the daily challenges I face. It sums up the buttons my children push, that make parenting less than a bed of roses.  Unless you mean roses with thorns. It's just not a walk in the park.


Parenting is HARD!

And, of course, children aren't the only people in my life.  There are others. All challenge my sanctification at various points, as I am certain I challenge THEIRS!

If I get dressed with all of these qualities, life will be easier.

Also fact.

The truth is, if we are intentional about having a life filled with these attributes, by "putting them on" each day, we will be able to handle those tricky situations that life throws up. We'll be dressed for the right "weather", because we've put on the right thing in the morning.

And, of course, if you know the weather is going to get pretty wild, you put on as many layers as you can.  You don't want to just put on one thing, you want to get entirely kitted out to deal with the crazy. Hat, gloves, scarf, jumper, coat, thermals - you get the drift.  That's what we need every morning. Putting on the layers that our spiritual wardrobe provides us with - ready for anything.

Are you dealing with children who err and sin, or who do the same things over and over?  If you are clothed with mercy, you'll deal with things in a more gracious way.

Do you have people who tend to be unkind?  If you are dressed with kindness, you can show them the best way to deal with others, even when they don't deserve it.

Sometimes we don't get things right. We don't handle situations in the best way, or we do or say things in a less than ideal manner.  Are we adorned with humility, ready to say "I was wrong", and smooth over problems, or avoid them altogether?

Certain situations make me prone to losing my temper.  Sad, but true.  If I am dressed in meekness I will, instead, show gentleness, when I am tempted to be less than gentle in my spirit.

Patience.  Now, there's a doozy. If anyone can test our patience, it's our children.  Putting on longsuffering, at the start of each new day - gracious, each HOUR - we will become more patient with those around us.

Forbearance is another challenging one.  That's all about putting up with people. As I have herd others say "I love my children, but I don't always like them". That applies to ANYONE we know, who is close to us.  We don't always LIKE the behaviour we see in them, although we love them unconditionally.  That's when we need that forbearance.  We need to put up with others, DESPITE their failings.

Being able to forgive others is another biggie.  It can be our husband, our children, or many others we know and love. We mustn't allow things to get in the way of our relationships.  We need to be big enough to say "I forgive you", and move on.  Putting forgiveness on, at the start of each new day, will help us in the right direction.

The last one basically sums it all up.

Above all else, we need to put on love.

The particular "brand" of love, here, is "agape".  It's that love shown by affection, and benevolence. It's literally a "love feast".  Showering others in love, so that they can soak it up and take their fill.  It's love in a close, and tender way.  Love that SHOWS.

When we go out on a rainy, spring day, we first get dressed in the basics, but then we need to put a coat on that covers up as much as we can, to keep it dry and protected.  Love is like that raincoat.  It goes right over the top of everything else, and protects it all.  Love. Always the most important thing.

How do we DO all this, though?  How do we keep "covered up", day, after day, after day?

Verse 10 tells  us

"put on the new man"

It's that life we have, because of Christ.  His blood has cleansed us from all sin, and the Holy Spirit reigns within  our hearts.  That new man is what we need to put on EVERY day.  Putting off the old man of sin, and being covered afresh by Christ's righteousness, which is sufficient.

"for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness"
Isaiah 61:10

THAT'S the ultimate clothing, that we need to be thankful for EVERY day.  His salvation.  His righteousness.  When we remember how Christ has forgiven us, we are clothed, ready to deal with anything that comes our way.

Go on - stretch into your spiritual closet, and get dressed, ready for whatever challenges come your way.

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