“Clothes make the man,” is the old saying. Mark Twain borrowed it from Shakespeare, paraphrasing his words – “For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” Like it or not, we form opinions about others based around their choice of rags, don’t we? A suit worn by a man headed to work is a fairly good indicator that the he is not employed as a laborer. A person in military fatigues is probably not a social worker. But, looks are sometimes deceiving. Anybody with a credit card can buy a look, make an impression, but underneath it all – the person is still the same.
Forget fashion and think about how your soul is clothed for a moment. In Judges, I read this line about one of Israel’s leaders, the famed Gideon. The enemies of God’s people were massing for war and the Bible says, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him.” (Judges 6:34, NIV) Digging a little deeper, I found that the English translation was weak. The verb, ‘came,’ translates Hebrew that indicates that Gideon was wrapped in the Spirit, clothed with God’s Presence! The people saw him differently when he was dressed up in the powerful Spirit of God.
How are you dressed as you head into life today? Are you wearing the rags of sin, your character stained, with the appearance of a slave to ungodly, self-centered habits? Or, are you ‘clothed with Spirit’ wearing the beautiful righteousness of Christ, a ‘royal priest’ in the service of the Lord?
Jesus, when He was ending His earthly mission, told the disciples that God would open the wardrobe of Heaven and send them out to change the world. Meditate on this – “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, NIV) Remember the awesome account of Pentecost (Acts 2) when these ordinary men from obscure origins became world-changers? They did not gain their abilities from a school or a motivational speaker! They were dressed in the Spirit and the Powerful Presence went down deep into their minds and hearts. They were given authority, wisdom, and influence that ripples through the centuries to us. My prayer today is not for smarter Christians, richer Christians, or better educated Christians. I pray that we will be newly clothed with the Spirit, marked by Him as the people of the Lord.
Paul uses the same metaphor to describe the holy calling of Christians. Our distinctions of class, race, even sex; he says, disappear when we ‘put on Christ.’ He writes to the Galatians, who had fallen for a Christianity based around religious effort, reminding them that the real power for transformation came from a gift: “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27, NIV) The result of those new clothes was something astonishing in a time when rigid class distinctions separated people. “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. … God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Galatians 3:28-29, NLT)
Let’s take a cue from those first disciples who were promised a new suit from the Spirit. They did not go buy it somewhere. They waited for the Lord to bring His Presence to them. Too often, we are pressed by the urgent demands of life, so that we rush into the day, having thrown on some clothing without much thought. A mis-matched suit is not a travesty, but a soul naked, without the clothes of the Spirit is vulnerable to temptation, without the ‘glory’ God intends for His children, and bereft of power. We must spend time in the Presence of the Father, letting Him clothe us with His Presence. We must learn to live in this day – asking Him where we can serve, what we need to know, and to show Himself through us by wrapping us in glorious robes of righteousness not of our own making.
John, in the amazing picture language of the Apocalypse, borrows the clothing metaphor to describe the eternal state of the people of God. Take this word from the Word with the prayer that God will dress you up, prepare you for His service, and make you as powerful as Gideon in building His kingdom in your world. “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.” (Revelation 7:9, NLT) “Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.” (Revelation 7:13-14, NLT)
Lord, clothe us in Your holy Presence. Amen!
The Solid Rock
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Edward Mote | William Batchelder Bradbury
© Words: Public Domain