By Ruth Mendoza
Do you get to wear jeans on Fridays? I look forward to Fridays, not because it indicates that the weekend has arrived, but because I get to wear jeans to work. This is quite the treat because Lord knows, I am not the organized one who lays out her clothes on Sunday night; I am the one who anxiously visualizes the outfit of the day as I brush my teeth. It would be so much easier to wear a t-shirt and jeans every day. Inevitably, the dress code must be followed no matter how uncomfortable it is because how we dress can positively impress students, clients, and colleagues.
In their article, Research Shows that the Clothes You Wear Actually Change the Way You Perform, Inc.com, a magazine that advocates for private-owned businesses, explains how clothing impacts the message we send to others about ourselves and the company we represent. They advise that when we are dressing, we should consider the message we want to communicate. Not only does it impact our presentation, but it also impacts our thinking and productivity. In conclusion, when we dress to impress, we will more than likely have success.
I know you’re probably thinking that the previous statement is a bit mundane for a believer in Christ. And you are right as we can easily fall into vanity’s trap of stylish competition and such.
But thinking about dress codes led me to ask myself: Am I clothed in a way that communicates who I am in Christ? Does my resemblance to Christ impress on the heart of others?
In Colossians 3, the apostle Paul reminds us that our freedom in Christ is meant to glorify God. Because we were raised in Christ to a new life and now secured in Him, we are to lay to rest our old self and represent Him as we are His chosen people. In other words, if we once clothed ourselves with anger, rude bluntness, ill-intentions, slanderous conversations, and obscene language and they still linger in our hearts, we need to change wardrobes. This wardrobe is to exalt our Almighty God, the King of kings, who is worthy of ALL praise.
Therefore, this new wardrobe we are to put on must impress on the heart of others. The same biblical chapter describes a list of garments that every believer in Christ should be wearing: tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love (Colossians 3:12-14, NLT). If we wear these consistently, there is a high probability of producing in others the desire to be raised and dressed in Christ as well.
To be dressed in tenderhearted mercy is to show compassion for others. Compassion is being sensitive to and hurting for the spiritual and physical needs of others. The workplace is such a rigorous environment where compassion is rare. However, a Christian leader must wear compassion as Christ did in Matthew 9:35-38, when he noticed their “distress and dejection, like sheep without a shepherd” and asked the disciples to pray that more workers joined in the harvest. Later, in Matthew 14:14 he felt compassion over a large crowd and healed their sick. Compassion leads us to act in favor of those who are suffering and in great need.
Kindness pours out of a compassionate heart and is key in describing God’s character. Luke 6:35 reminds us that God is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. We may encounter malice where we stand, but we must remember that kindness is loving our enemies, and the best way to do that is by prayer and doing them good (Romans 12:21).
When we are placed in a position of leadership, it is so easy to give in to pride and putting our needs and wants before others. Christian leaders must dress themselves with humility to overcome this desire. To be humble is to value others above ourselves (Philippians 4:3-4). Serving others through our leadership is also humbling ourselves before the Lord.
Christ is the epitome of gentleness. When we think about clothing ourselves in gentleness, we cannot dismiss the fact that He, quietly, like a lamb to the slaughter, withstood suffering and pain, taking on the punishment that we deserved (Isaiah 53:4). And yet, it was that punishment that brought us peace and healing. Gentleness is helping others, working for the benefit of others, even if we have been wronged.
Do you find that the work environment can easily engage us in conversations that nitpick each other’s idiosyncrasies? We are flawed human beings with habits and behaviors that are not always in sync with each individual’s righteous judgment. No wonder the apostle Paul tells us to put on patience. Patience is tolerating the persona and its flawed nature and covering it with grace.
Another garment, that is rarely fashioned in this world is forgiveness. Many consider it unstylish in this dog-eat-dog world. However, those of us in Christ must forgive everyone of everything; we are commanded to forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13). Sure, the hurt caused can be severe that it is too difficult to forgive. However, we must be reminded that we have a God who delights in showing mercy and hurls our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19). He will not flaunt our transgressions in our face. He forgives them, so we are very well capable of forgiveness.
Lastly, if we are to be dressed in Christ, we cannot leave love in a drawer or closet. Love binds all of the virtues mentioned above in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14). Loving others is the greatest sign of our salvation. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12). It does not matter how fancy we dress; it means nothing if we don’t have love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
We must clothe ourselves with Christ in mind. These virtues are more than a believer’s check-off list of righteous living. These are virtues that can impact the kingdom greatly if we wear them daily. We cannot hang these on the coat rack. We cannot set them aside while we update our social status or comment on social media. Our identity in Christ is a royal inheritance that allows us to pour God’s love into others. What impression do people have of Christ when they interact with you?
Ruth Mendoza, BSIS, M. Ed, has been an educator for 20 years, she also serves as the Hispanic Ministries contractor for WMU of TX. Being born into a pastoral family, she continues to serve faithfully in ministry in East Texas. Ruth is also a previous CLLI student.