You might be familiar with the phrase, “Clothes make the man.” Many attribute the saying to Mark Twain, who, in addition to his writing, was known for his trademark white suits. But Mr. Twain was not the first to identify the natural human tendency to judge a book by its cover. During the Middle Ages, Erasmus, a Catholic priest and theologian said the very same thing—in Latin. Erasmus was quoting Quintilian, who in turn was quoting Homer’s Odyssey.
So . . . what is the most valuable outfit in your closet? Is it some new article of clothing? Perhaps something that has been handed down to you? Today I’d like to share a word of encouragement about the eternal truth that clothes really do make the Christian.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness . . . (Isaiah 61:10)
Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:14)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
The world tells us something quite different, doesn’t it? Armani, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Prada, and countless other brands shower us with messages that clothes define the man or woman.
But this is not for you! God’s Word tells us that our identity is in Christ alone. The clothes this world offers us are quite costly; they are available only to those who have enough money to buy them. The clothes that make the Christian are priceless . . . and yet they are available to anyone and everyone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation.
Then [the angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” (Zechariah 3:1-4)
Satan hoped to hurl his fiery accusations at Joshua and disqualify him from serving as God’s high priest. But God rebuked Satan, because it was God who chose Joshua, in spite of his lack of qualifications. God removed Joshua’s filthy clothes and gave him rich garments, qualifying him to be His servant.
The same is true for you and me and every other child of God. Our sin clings to us just like filthy clothes. Do you remember the “Pig Pen” character from the Peanuts cartoons, who walked around with a cloud of dirt surrounding him? You and I are just like that! Scripture tells us that we are so far removed from the righteousness of God that even our righteous acts, by comparison, are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
By nature, none of us is qualified to serve God—not even fit to come into His presence! But God comes to us in Christ, removes the foul, filthy, sinful rags of our sin and clothes us in the spotless righteousness of Christ. And now, clothed in this rich robe, we are invited to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Rejoice in that thought, Christian believer!
And now, wrapped in this incomparably rich garment, we are to go out and tell others of this glorious exchange that is freely offered to them. We are to be the fragrance and the aroma of Christ to a lost and dying world (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). We are, as Colossians 3:12 commands, to model the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience of Christ to everyone we meet.
So, Christian, let me ask you: What would those around you say about the clothes you’ve been wearing lately? Do they make God attractive? Do they speak of His amazing grace? We must remember that for many people in this world, we will be the only Bible they ever read. May the clothes we wear encourage them to want to read more!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!