This month we have been delving into the soiree element of dress code. The topic is a fairly important one. After all, who wants to attend any social gathering and discover that they are over- or under-dressed? The prospect can be embarrassing at best and could be a downright joy-robber! We have uncovered some tips and tricks for both deciding (as a host) and discerning (as a guest) the proper dress for various occasions, in an effort to help all of us feel less anxious about our wardrobes. But wouldn’t it be glorious if we never had to worry about dress code? It would save so much waste, literally.
In America and really in many parts of the world, fashion is a major employer and expenditure. Currently, the fashion industry is valued at $1.7 trillion worldwide and makes up 2% of the global Gross Domestic Product. Unfortunately, the clothing industry also adds up to a lot of unused surplus. Nearly 60 percent of all discarded clothes eventually make their way to a landfill. That is the equivalent of one garbage truck filled with clothes being either dumped in a landfill or burned every second.[i] Yet, to anyone who ever receives and accepts God’s invitation to everlasting fellowship with Him, He provides not one but two perfectly sized wardrobes that never wear out or lose their usefulness. One collection equips us to be knights and the other to be royal ambassadors. We read about them in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3.
Knights in Shining Armor
As the apostle Paul was writing his letter to the church in Ephesus, he reminded them of a truth we all need to keep in mind.
For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)
Have you ever thought about that? We are not just flesh and blood, but also spirit, and this world is populated not just by physical beings, but spiritual. We read about it all through the Bible. With that in mind, Paul continues his encouragement to the church, sharing with them a wardrobe gift straight from God. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Did you ever think of yourself as a knight in shining armor? God says you are, and He led Paul to outline exactly what that armor includes. Each piece of armor has a distinct purpose and gives us defense against evil and our daily temptations.
First, it says to stand firm and put on the belt of truth. Just as a belt encircles our waist, upholding our clothing, God encourages us to encircle and uphold ourselves in His truth. He knew we would need to be covered with truth. If something is true, it cannot fall victim to a lie. We need truth in every area of our lives. And God has designed His full armor so that every other piece of it is attached to the belt of truth. It’s foundational and integral to our spiritual wardrobe. When we don’t wrap ourselves in His truth every day it is difficult to navigate life’s circumstances. God’s word is truth, and we need it to know truth and what is not. We can belt ourselves in it by studying His word, praying it, using it as our guideline and memorizing it.
Next, we cover our hearts with the breastplate- of righteousness. Righteousness, basically means being made right. In our daily battles we need God’s complete righteousness. His righteousness is a gift straight from Himself through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. The enemy will try to tempt us and even say that God’s burdens are bumping into our happy, but the knowledge that we belong to God through Christ protects our hearts. It reminds us that we are children of and ambassadors for the King of kings. If you are struggling with that fact, ask a mentor, pastor or friend to pray. We were not meant to be alone.
Covered by our breastplate of righteousness, we can walk forward in the shoes of the gospel of peace. Peace is an attribute of the Lord. The gospel, which means good news, is the forgiveness of sins and that only comes through faith in God through His Son Jesus. Peace means wholeness and when we carry anxiety and worry with us, we are robbed of peace. So, each day I ask the Lord to give me peace and work it out in me. My security and identity are in Him not my work, situation and life.
The next piece of armor we can grab is the shield of faith. A shield does just what it says, it shields us from enemy fire. For the Christian, that means the fiery darts of Satan. We need the shield of God’s word so we can be confident and walk in the way He has called us, not matter how many lies are hurled our way. We find confidence in God’s righteousness and truth, not ours. And as our final piece of protective covering, we put on the helmet of salvation. What is salvation? It is what occurs the moment we trust in Jesus’s death and resurrection as a payment for our sin and we put our trust for life in Him. Salvation is being worked out through a process of sanctification. As the breastplate of righteousness is for our hearts, the helmet of salvation does for our minds. It rests solely on the work of Jesus Christ but it involves us as we walk with the Lord and ask Him to change us. The battle for the Christian is often in the mind. So, we must surrender our thoughts as it says in Colossians 3. We are to remember who the Lord is and how faithful he is, and renew our minds daily. Pastor Craig Groeschel says, “Our minds go in the direction of our thoughts.” By asking Him to transform us and change us not to look like the world but like Him. We want to look like Him.
Finally, we are ready to take up our one and only offensive piece of armor, the Sword of the Spirit. A sword is used to protect a soldier, and it is both offensive and defensive. The sword in scripture is the word of God. The written scriptures were written by men through the inspiration and direction of Holy Spirit. We read and memorize scripture to know God, His word and to combat our adversary’s lies and the evil of this world. In Hebrews 4:12 we learn that the word of God is active and sharper than a double-edged sword. The purpose of the Bible is to know God and by that withstand evil and redirect our minds to what is true. The more we know, the more we hide His word in our hearts, memorize, and pray it, the more prepared we will be to overcome evil with the goodness of God. And speaking of God’s goodness, let us delve into His second complimentary wardrobe.
Robed as Royal Ambassadors
Colossians 3:12 says, So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper], bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. 14 Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. That, friends, is the wardrobe of a royal ambassador.
We have the ability to robe ourselves this way, because we have been chosen by God and created in His image, and these are the attributes of His character. And wouldn’t it be far more life-giving to wear these items than the clothing so much of the world wears?
Pastor David Jeremiah says that as long as there is earthly breath in our lungs, we can live in such a way that we “put into practice what we already are in position. And Colossians tells us that we are positioned as God’s chosen family members, holy (set apart for royal service) and dearly loved. What a beautiful identity to have. By His grace, we wear the seal of His Spirit, the robes of His righteousness, and according to Colossians 3, the garments of His character.
This month we introduced to you the Winter Closet Outfit Planner by Style by Color. As we go about our everyday living, the Planner is a wonderful tool for helping us easily determine our earthly outfits. But for all of us who have accepted God’s invitation into forever fellowship, we have access to two amazing wardrobes that not only keep us well-appointed for any life circumstance, but also strengthen us for every situation, as well. Have you
— Sue Lindsey and Linda Maynard (c) January 2023