Several years ago as a new college graduate, I began to realize that I enjoyed nice clothing and that I had easy access to a fabulous outlet mall! Hmm…where do you think this story is going? Growing up in a large family with several sisters and female cousins, I was quite accustomed to second-hand clothing, so having new clothes for every season was not a regular occurrence for me. Most of my extra cash during college went towards books (science books are not especially affordable), but now I found myself with a new budgeting (read: heart) dilemma. I had yet to discover thrift-shopping and clearance racks, or the beauty of holiness.
One morning, I stumbled upon this passage in Colossians 3: 12-15: “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” I knew this was God speaking directly to me, and I quickly posted these verses in my closet as a reminder to put on these lovely qualities daily, hoping to find more joy in these virtues than in donning a new outfit. We see this reminder in 1 Peter 3 as well, and in Proverbs 11:22. Notice that these verses do not reject the cultivation of physical beauty, but rather emphasize spiritual beauty more so than physical.
As we move into the holiday season, it is easy to become distracted with appearances, whether it is finding that cute party dress, the perfectly wrapped gift, or a family photo that will impress. Do you find yourself struggling to be grateful in this season? I know I do. Someone else will always have more or look better. The very time of year when we are ‘supposed’ to be overflowing with the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience in the passage above, many of us find it extremely difficult to do so. You are not alone in this sister! The crowds at the mall, grocery store, and post office don’t help us a bit, and it seems impossible to get everything done, while also getting reasonable sleep, nutrition, and exercise. There is absolutely no white space on the calendar, and cultivating a quiet heart? Forget it, you might be saying! But our gracious and compassionate Jesus comes quietly, with the answer. Are you listening?
Jesus comes to us this Thanksgiving as he always has, in perfect humility. In Philippians 2, we are reminded of the example of Christ as he laid down his life for us in every possible way. The Gospel is again the answer, and not just at the Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve services. The Gospel is the answer when you are stressed and running late in the grocery line, when most of your Christmas cards were returned with wrong addresses, when your child forgets their lines in the play, when the cookies burn. When we humble ourselves and embrace our great need for a Savior in these small, daily moments; when we accept His lavish grace in our imperfections, we find ourselves robed in His exquisite righteousness. Talk about a makeover, ladies! Who needs a reality show when this grace can be your daily reality? That’s what I want. Take special note of the reminder in verse 12… our motivation to put on holiness is found in the knowledge of God’s love for us! Pretty powerful, I think! No guilt trips or legalism here.
Join me in putting off the vices listed earlier in Colossians 3, and seeking the face of God for grace to put on humility, thankfulness, compassion, gentleness, patience, kindness, love, forgiveness, and the peace of the Messiah this holiday season. We’re not going to do this perfectly, but the first step is always repentance, followed by grace that empowers us for holy living. Might I encourage you to post these verses in your closet, by your bursting calendar, or next to your bathroom mirror? Let’s all take a deep breath; let go of the unreasonable expectations we have during the holidays, and find grace to truly embrace these gifts. Sister, you are already looking gorgeous!
Glowing in Grace,