Wearing my ‘Jesus Clothes’
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” –Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
I’m one of those people who picks out her outfits the night before. On one particular day, I’d planned to wear a sleek black tunic and gray dress pants to work. But one peek out the window that morning indicated the day would be a gloomy, wet, sopping mess. I also had a ton of tedious catch-up work to do—filing and organizing and getting financials straight for the year.
The last thing I wanted to do was wear black or gray and add to the gloom.
So I picked through my closet looking for a clean pink blouse or a bright yellow top, something cheerful I could wear to keep me motivated on such a dreary day.
It’s a simple thing, really—the notion that a bright color will knock down the blues, or a smile will make your day brighter. But even a little effort to change perspective does help. We do things all the time like that, don’t we? Fake it till you make it, the saying goes. Of course, studies now prove that the very effort you put into smiling does have a physiological effect. Somehow, pushing your mouth and cheek muscles into an upturned expression supposedly releases some sort of brain signal that really does make you happier.
But anyone who’s struggled with depression, burnout, grief, or long-term stress knows there’s no amount of smiling, no perfect shade of yellow, that can fix some things.
Still, we make the effort. We try to clothe ourselves in sunny outfits—or a winning personality, or that rote “totally fine!” when people ask how things are going. We try to shine the light even on dark days.
But reading Colossians 3 today, it’s clear that’s not the sort of clothing the apostle Paul is talking about in his letter to the early church. In Colossians 3:12-14, Paul urges, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (NIV).
These clothes Paul mentions, of course, aren’t actual garments. He’s talking about authentic, righteous living, living in the manner of someone who is filled with the love of Christ and the glory of the Holy Spirit, all pointing together to God in the highest. It’s the sort of clothing that permeates our soul, acts as a buffer against the forces of evil at work in the world, carries over into the way we express care and compassion for others around us.
We wear these clothes whether it is a rainy day or perfect sunshine, whether life is on an upswing or deep in a valley, whether we’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis or financial crisis or tremendous loneliness.
We are called to put on these garments because there are the garments of love, the garments worn by our savior Jesus Christ himself, and the garments that allow us to draw others to him and to the life-saving eternal truth of the gospel.
Life is hard sometimes. But whether it’s a rainy day or a poor night’s sleep or a tough season, it doesn’t mean we get a pass and get to succumb to doubt or disillusionment. Our hope in Christ, our hope in the gospel, is never dependent on our present circumstances. We hope in spite of our circumstances, good or bad.
Today, I challenge you to check your clothing. Are you wearing the garments of Christ? Are you cloaked in love and care for other people?
I’d love to hear, either in the comments below or in a private email, how you are doing in life right now. How are you challenging life circumstances? How are you keeping your faith today?
Let’s Pray: Lord, help me put on the clothes of Christ—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience—today and every day. Help me shine Your light so others know You and know Your love through me. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.
Jessica has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.