By: Keith Olbricht
This past Sunday coming home from CYC, I wore my customary khakis and a polo. When we got back here to the building at about 5:00, I realized I was not going to have time to go home and change before our evening worship here. It would be highly unusual for me to preach without a jacket and tie, but I wasn’t too worried about it on this occasion. However, one of our young people made a comment to the effect that dressed as I was, I looked more beachy than preachy. I know she was not criticizing, but based on her comment, I managed to find time to change into a dress shirt and tie before time for worship.
You have heard the statement many times that the clothes make the man. And while I ask you to understand that I am not advocating putting on airs and dressing fashionably in any effort whatsoever to appear to be superior to anyone else, you have to admit that there is a lot to that statement. I have heard horror stories over the years of people showing up for job interviews, etc., in clothing that was inappropriate for the position. If you are applying for a job at a bank, it would probably not be to your advantage to show up unbathed, wearing a torn t-shirt, dirty jeans, and flip flops. Likewise, if you were to interview for a job as a ditch digger, a coat and cummerbund might be viewed just as unfavorably, albeit in a different way. Not everyone wears a coat and tie while preaching (and that’s ok, just to be clear), that’s just not been my thing (although I wouldn’t mind changing that up a bit).
But do the clothes make the Christian? Although the point I want to make isn’t necessarily about the physical garments we wear, let’s take a moment to say “yes” to that. The Bible does not specify a particular style, color, fabric, or fashion with which Christians should adorn themselves, but always, always, always makes the plea toward modesty, appropriateness, and honorableness. Whether we are dressing for worship, work, school, or even the beach, those principles are to guide our decisions. If it is not modest, it is not appropriate, or it is not honoring God or ourselves, why would we wear it?
Now to the point. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14 NKJV). “Put on” in the exact same sense we would put clothing on. When we ask, “Do the clothes make the Christian?” the answer is again, “Yes!” If these are not the things we are putting on, others will undoubtedly see and notice. Just as important, YOU will see and notice that these things are missing from your life. Most important of all, Jesus will see and notice what you have put on and what you have not. Yes, the clothes indeed do make the Christian!