Most of us like some new threads from time to time – or in my case, new to me! I’ve always enjoyed a hunt round the clothes rails of charity shops. I have a weakness for good quality shirts, but can never justify the price of them new – so I look for pre-loved versions instead.
Whatever your fancy is, the idea of putting on new clothes is the central image in today’s passage. Only this time, Paul applies it to our new life in Christ – you’ve taken off your old self (v9), he says in yesterday’s passage, that shabby old shirt with stains, the sort of grubby ways of living Paul describes in the preceding verses… and you’ve put on the new self (v10), ‘which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.’
And Paul doesn’t stop there – he actually goes on to list the new ‘clothes’ of our life in Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience (v12) and forgiveness (v13). These are the clothes we wear now – understated but of real quality. Last of all, the big overcoat which we can put over all of them is love (v14).
It’s a great way of looking at it. When we come to Christ we are born again spiritually – so we are already a new person. The great change has taken place, as Christ’s Spirit fills us and lives in us. But it takes time for us to grow into the new life – we put on the new clothes bit by bit. It’s a lovely way of thinking about how we develop virtues – slowly dressing ourselves with kindness, humility, and so on.
It’s also helpful to think of our new selves as being clean – or as Paul puts it ‘holy and dearly loved’ – just as we’d never get out of the bath or shower and put on the dirty, sweaty clothes we’d just put in the washing basket, so our new clean selves can’t go back to the old ways of vv5-9. We need clean clothes, befitting a holy and dearly loved child of God.
As we wrap up this week, what clothing do you need to put on today? Pray for grace to wear it well – after all, Jesus has bought it for you!