I don't live in a wet climate, so my umbrella seldom gets used. As a matter of fact, they can predict rain for days and days, but we will never see a drop, so my umbrella is kind of "superfluous" to my required "wardrobe" items. I don't really have a "necessity" for it - at least the majority of the time. I cannot say the same thing about shoes. Since the sun beats down so intensely on our Arizona pavement and sidewalks, even a short distance to the end of the drive to pick up the newspaper can turn you into a long jump champion! Let me just stop for a moment to tell you how much it can actually rain when it does rain around here. The washes fill up in a matter of minutes - not hours. So, even though I don't really "need" to use my umbrella the biggest part of the year, the couple of times we get the 'gully-washer' rains certainly make me glad I actually own a couple of them! Some of us consider the "spiritual" wardrobe God picks out for us a little "superfluous" - it really isn't a necessity for us. We don't see ourselves actually "using" it much, or "needing" it frequently, but when we do, isn't it good to know it has already been provided?
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14 MSG)
Most of us would think we should not go out of the house without being clothed in something, but do we really give a lot of consideration to how we are "really" clothed? As we examine this list of "spiritual clothing" in our passage today, we see some articles which seem kind of "redundant". Compassion and kindness seem like they might be "matching shoes" - one goes with the other and wearing just one will make for a pretty gimpy walk. Humility and contentment with second place seem like they might be "matching socks" - one compliments the other, but socks are seldom noticed because they just are "under" the other stuff. If they don't match, they stand out, don't they?
Even-tempered and quiet strength seem like them might just be "matching earrings" - they really adorn a person well, but one missing will make for an awkward appearance indeed - almost calling attention to something missing in the picture of one's life. Two "garments" kind of stand alone - discipline and forgiveness. Maybe we cold refer to these are our "foundation" garments. Discipline is like a good girdle - it really holds us firm. Forgiveness is like a silky full slip - it glides over our frame, smoothing out the appearance of all which is put forward. You don't always have to wear the girdle or the slip, but when either is worn, it changes the appearance of the entire outfit.
One garment is considered to be our "everyday" or "all-purpose" garment. In other words, we just need to wear it all the time. It is the garment of love. Some may argue that all of these garments are important to "don" each and everyday, but our scripture plainly tells us we need to never be without the garment of love - it is our basic, all-purpose garment. One thing I know for sure, I don't want to run around "naked"! So, I better "get dressed" the way God planned for me to dress or I might just be found to have mis-matched socks, a gimpy gait, or a lopsided appearance!
One of these garments is often misunderstood - it would be the garment of kindness. Sometimes we think kindness means we show some kind of favor, or nice action toward another and this is kindness. I beg to differ, for sometimes kindness might even look a little different - such as when we need to speak the truth in love to another. Let me just say this - go looking for goodness in another and you will often find it. Kindness is something we must put on along with compassion. Kindness is the ability to take "steps" which are gentle, helpful and considerate. Compassion is the ability to take "steps" which are merciful and heartfelt. Leave home without either of these "shoes" and you will indeed have a very lopsided gait!
If you have ever noticed how people react to how another is "attired", you will probably have observed some making "snap judgments" about another based on what it is they are wearing. Short shorts at the pool often is overlooked because it is the 'appropriate' attire for the pool. Short shorts at a business meeting may not work so well - it may draw a few stares and make for a rather uncomfortable meeting. God put much thought into the "clothing" he provides in our wardrobe - because he knows how we "attire" ourselves matters to those who will see us in our everyday activities. They will make judgments about him based on what they see in us. Perhaps this is why he focuses so much on giving us things which when worn together actually provide protection, balance, firmness, and "fitness". Just sayin!