I was visiting Rachel Olsen's blog the other day and she had a post "Fashion Q&Z with an Expert". It was a great exchange and it was lovely reading all the advice and all the various experiences/dilemmas women have. And wonders of all wonders I won a copy of the expert's book (If Clothes Could Talk by Shari Braendal) by leaving a comment! Me! I won! I never win anything (or at least it feels that way). I'm so excited to get it -- learn how to identify my body shape (I know that one...round!) and learn about styles and what would suit me.
As I was basking in the glow of my contest win I noticed the verse today on the BibleGateway.com widget.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Clothe? Fashion? Hmmm....I see a blog post there I began to think. Don't you love it when God is talking to you?
So my friends while I look forward to receiving my copy of Shari's book let's look at some of God's "fashion advice".
Clothe yourself with...
Let's start with a definition. Compassion - a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
As I began looking for examples of Christ's compassion I discovered something. Here are a few of the verses I found, see if anything strikes you.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed in sick. Matthew 14:14
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way. Matthew 15:32
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:34
Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Mark 1:41
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34
Do you see?
Jesus's compassion moves him and he does something. He doesn't just feel for the people and move on. He feels for them...He steps into their circumstances with them and acts on it - healing, teaching, feeding. Whatever needs to be done where they are right now.
That brought me to another thought...the definition above says compassion is sympathy. What is sympathy? Well according to dictionary.com it is harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another. Hmmm... What is empathy? Again, back to dictionary.com - the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
Jesus didn't empathize with people. He didn't look at their circumstances and say yeah, I know how you feel. Nope. He met them in their circumstances where they felt what they felt and then He acted on it.
Now, a little self reflection, I hate to say it but I think my "compassion" for people is often not the Christ-like compassion (remember the kinds that acts on it), but more of the empathizing kind. I see people in need, I might even try to understand, but do I get up on my couch and act on it. Sadly, no. If it involves writing a check I could be moved, but is that really compassion? I don't know.
The dictionary definition - of a good or benevolent nature or disposition, as a person; indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane.
But what is it? What does it look like?
Mother Theresa holding the hand of a young woman as she faces death, making sure the forgotten heart feels love once more. That's "epic" (as my brother would. say
Delivering groceries to a housebound neighbor. Yeah, that qualifies for sure.
What's the Bible say?
Well, here's an interesting one. There weren't exact verses that said, "Jesus was kind...", however find one where Jesus's behavior was not the embodiment of kindness.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35
When I first read that, I thought, wow! God wants me to be nice to my enemies. Yeah, we've heard that and, yeah, I can work on that.
But read it again...he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. That's me. Not a day goes by that I don't fall short. That I am not ungrateful...that I forget to say thank you for all my circumstances (whether I like them or not). And yet, He chooses to be my benevolent Father. If we can clothe ourselves in the same good disposition, not only to those that are easy to love but to those that get our hair up we look like our Father! We reflect our Maker.
Let's talk about one more and then we'll save the rest for tomorrow...
Oooh...here's one, huh? Okay, again, let's start with a definition just so we're speaking the same language. The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc.
I'm excited to share with you what God revealed to me as I began to ponder this one. Track with me for a minute here.
The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12
Before I gave my life to Christ this is one of those concepts that was completely foreign to me.
The greatest...the servant. Humble will be exalted. Um, okay?
And then when Christ threw open the doors of my dark and musty heart He cleaned out my ego (oh no, not completely, it still sneaks back in and causes all sorts of ruckus now and then, but the good thing I try to keep it's mail forwarded now). And then He did something even more amazing for me, He allowed me to feel and taste what it is like to give of yourself for Him. To completely and totally give to others so that they look to Him! That gives me goose bumps and makes me tear up, even now as I write.
One of my absolute favorite comedians is Brian Regan. He has a bit that he does about the "me monster". We all know this person, the one that thumps their chest and tells you all about me, me, ME! It is funny and sad at the same time...because it is soooooooooo true. And I have been that person, was that person and now again I still am that person. And you know what happens...just what it says will happen in Matthew...I am humbled. And let me tell you when God decides it is time to get your attention, to let you taste a little "humble-pie" He doesn't do it half way. Does He?
Father, I ask you right now in the midst of my writing, please continue to humble me. When my chest thumping, me monster moments occur, knock my feet out from under me. On my knees let me remember who You are and let me only point to You with my life.
After, God brought me back to my knees -- in thanks and adoration this time!! He showed me something that kept me there as I was contemplating writing.
Jesus's greatest act of humility was the cross. To step down from Heaven -- someplace so wonderful that we can't even get a description that won't blow our minds! -- and walk among us is humble. But He went all the way...He chose to die for our sins. The God of the universe...the Truth...the Light...became sin so that He could keep us, the ungrateful and the wicked.
Wow! I am still looking forward to Shari's book, but let me tell you I know I have got some major, MAJOR spiritual fashion issues. And we're only halfway through the verse. I hope that every morning I can work as hard to put these clothes on (and keep them on) as I did trying to find something cute and green this morning for St. Patty's day. Tune back in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel and we'll sort out the rest of our fashion forward verse.