Day 281

New Clothes

Wisdom Proverbs 24:15-22
New Testament Colossians 3:1-4:1
Old Testament Jeremiah 14:1-15:21

Introduction

I tend to wear very similar clothes every day. I cannot claim to have much ‘dress sense’. Yet, believe it or not, before Pippa and I got married it was even worse.

When I got married, my flared trousers, misshapen sweaters with holes, string vests, ties (inherited from an uncle) and dilapidated trousers had to go. I hate getting rid of things – especially clothes to which I am attached. They feel like old friends. But alas, the time had come to be re-clothed.

As well as the outer clothing, our hearts and minds have an inner clothing. When you come into a relationship with God through Jesus, the old clothes have to go and you need a new set of clothes for your heart and mind.

Wisdom

Proverbs 24:15-22

Saying 27

15 Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous,
   do not plunder their dwelling place;
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
   but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

Saying 28

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
   when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
   and turn his wrath away from them.

Saying 29

19 Do not fret because of evildoers
   or be envious of the wicked,
20 for the evildoer has no future hope,
   and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Saying 30

21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son,
   and do not join with rebellious officials,
22 for those two will send sudden destruction on them,
   and who knows what calamities they can bring?

Commentary

Control your heart and mind about other people

Have you been wronged or hurt in some way by someone and then found out that they got into trouble?

This passage warns us against thinking that they are getting what they deserve and rejoicing over their problems: ‘Do not gloat when your enemies fall; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove’ (vv.17–18a).

It is so easy to gloat when those who have been causing us problems and opposing us mess up and fall. It is rather tempting to enjoy the moment. But this is the wrong response. Watch your heart and resist these thoughts.

As Joyce Meyer writes, ‘It takes a lot of “heart work” for us not to be at least a little bit glad to see that person get what is coming to \[them\]... We should always remember that “hurting people hurt people”. Those who hurt us are usually hurting within themselves, and their pain may be so strong that they are not even aware they are hurting us.’

Prayer

Lord, forgive us for the times when we have gloated, and help us to resist the temptation to do so. Help me to control my heart and my mind with the help of your Holy Spirit.

New Testament

Colossians 3:1-4:1

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Instructions for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism.

4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

Commentary

Clothe your heart and mind with love

As a Christian, you are ‘in Christ’. You are united with him in his death and resurrection. Therefore, Paul can write that ‘you died’ (3:3). And he can also write, ‘you have been raised with Christ… your life is now hidden with Christ in God’ (vv.1,3). In the future, ‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ (v.4).

Because of all that Jesus has done for you and made possible, you need to re-clothe your heart and mind.

  1. Change what you think about (vv.1–12)

    Right action begins with right thinking. You can now live this resurrection life, made possible by Jesus, Paul writes: ‘Set your hearts on things above… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (vv.1–2).

    This is not easy because you are surrounded by ‘earthly things’ (v.2) and temptations. Take radical action. Paul writes, ‘That means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy’ (v.5, MSG). This is what we used to do before we were Christians.

    ‘Strip off’ the old clothes (v.9, AMP). You must ‘rid yourselves’ (v.8) of the bad stuff: ‘anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on \[‘clothed yourselves with’, AMP\] the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator’ (vv.8–10).

    Put on the new clothes. You are one of God’s chosen people and therefore, you are called to live as such. This means a radical change of your position in the world. Don’t be passive; be active. Instead of the bad stuff, you are called to clothe yourself with ‘compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience’ (v.12).

  2. Change your reaction to others (vv.13–15)

    Jesus lives in every Christian, regardless of background. In Christ there is no racial barrier (‘no Greek or Jew’), no religious barrier (‘circumcised or uncircumcised’), no national barrier (‘barbarian, Scythian’) and no class barrier (‘slave or free’) but ‘Christ is all, and in all’ (v.11).

    Paul goes on, ‘bear with each other’ (v.13). In the world, if someone lets you down, that is often the end of the relationship. But you are to ‘forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (v.13).

    This kind of forgiveness is a uniquely Christian virtue. Others may forgive, but only Christians have such a solid basis for forgiveness. As C.S. Lewis says, ‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’

    One word sums up your new set of clothes: ‘love’. Paul writes, ‘And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity’ (v.14). Love is not just an emotion; it is an action. It is something you ‘put on’. As you put on your physical clothes, so you are to put on love.

    This is the beauty of the Christian community – Christ brings about a radical change in your relationships. The way Christians relate is very different from the world and should be so attractive.

    How is it possible? You must set your heart and mind in the right place and, as Paul goes on to write, ‘Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace’ (v.15).

    God’s peace acts like a referee in your heart – telling you what is in and what is out. One of the questions you should ask about any decision is: ‘Do I sense God’s peace about what I am about to do?’

  3. Change your attitude to Jesus (vv.16–17)

    Be constantly guided by ‘the word of Christ’ (v.16). Paul says, ‘Let the word of Christ – the message – have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God!’ (v.16, MSG).

    This kind of community will be centred on the worship of God and listening to the word of Christ in the Scriptures. It will be a community of love, ‘sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord’ (v.22).

    It will also be one of hard work. Whether you are an employer or an employee, a student or a volunteer, you are serving Christ. Do your job well and with a good attitude in your heart and mind: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… It is the Lord Christ you are serving’ (vv.23–24).

Prayer

Lord, help me today to live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Help me to forgive as you have forgiven me. May your peace rule in my heart.

Old Testament

Jeremiah 14:1-15:21

Drought, Famine, Sword

14 This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

2 “Judah mourns,
   her cities languish;
they wail for the land,
   and a cry goes up from Jerusalem.
3 The nobles send their servants for water;
   they go to the cisterns
   but find no water.
They return with their jars unfilled;
   dismayed and despairing,
   they cover their heads.
4 The ground is cracked
   because there is no rain in the land;
the farmers are dismayed
   and cover their heads.
5 Even the doe in the field
   deserts her newborn fawn
   because there is no grass.
6 Wild donkeys stand on the barren heights
   and pant like jackals;
their eyes fail
   for lack of food.”

7 Although our sins testify against us,
   do something, Lord, for the sake of your name.
For we have often rebelled;
   we have sinned against you.
8 You who are the hope of Israel,
   its Saviour in times of distress,
why are you like a stranger in the land,
   like a traveler who stays only a night?
9 Why are you like a man taken by surprise,
   like a warrior powerless to save?
You are among us, Lord,
   and we bear your name;
   do not forsake us!

10 This is what the Lord says about this people:

“They greatly love to wander;
   they do not restrain their feet.
So the Lord does not accept them;
   he will now remember their wickedness
   and punish them for their sins.”

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12 Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”

13 But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’”

14 Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. 15 Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. 16 And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.

17 “Speak this word to them:

“‘Let my eyes overflow with tears
   night and day without ceasing;
for the Virgin Daughter, my people,
   has suffered a grievous wound,
   a crushing blow.
18 If I go into the country,
   I see those slain by the sword;
if I go into the city,
   I see the ravages of famine.
Both prophet and priest
   have gone to a land they know not. ’”

19 Have you rejected Judah completely?
   Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us
   so that we cannot be healed?
We hoped for peace
   but no good has come,
for a time of healing
   but there is only terror.
20 We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord,
   and the guilt of our ancestors;
   we have indeed sinned against you.
21 For the sake of your name do not despise us;
   do not dishonour your glorious throne.
Remember your covenant with us
   and do not break it.
22 Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
   Do the skies themselves send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God.
   Therefore our hope is in you,
   for you are the one who does all this.

15 Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! 2 And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Lord says:

   “‘Those destined for death, to death;
those for the sword, to the sword;
those for starvation, to starvation;
those for captivity, to captivity.’

3 “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” declares the Lord, “the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds and the wild animals to devour and destroy. 4 I will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh son of Hezekiah king of Judah did in Jerusalem.

5 “Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem?
   Who will mourn for you?
   Who will stop to ask how you are?
6 You have rejected me,” declares the Lord.
   “You keep on backsliding.
So I will reach out and destroy you;
   I am tired of holding back.
7 I will winnow them with a winnowing fork
   at the city gates of the land.
I will bring bereavement and destruction on my people,
   for they have not changed their ways.
8 I will make their widows more numerous
   than the sand of the sea.
At midday I will bring a destroyer
   against the mothers of their young men;
suddenly I will bring down on them
   anguish and terror.
9 The mother of seven will grow faint
   and breathe her last.
Her sun will set while it is still day;
   she will be disgraced and humiliated.
I will put the survivors to the sword
   before their enemies,”
   declares the Lord.

10 Alas, my mother, that you gave me birth,
   a man with whom the whole land strives and contends!
I have neither lent nor borrowed,
   yet everyone curses me.

11 The Lord said,

“Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose;
   surely I will make your enemies plead with you
   in times of disaster and times of distress.

12 “Can a man break iron—
   iron from the north —or bronze?

13 “Your wealth and your treasures
   I will give as plunder, without charge,
because of all your sins
   throughout your country.
14 I will enslave you to your enemies
   in a land you do not know,
for my anger will kindle a fire
   that will burn against you.”

15 Lord, you understand;
   remember me and care for me.
   Avenge me on my persecutors.
You are long-suffering —do not take me away;
   think of how I suffer reproach for your sake.
16 When your words came, I ate them;
   they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
   Lord God Almighty.
17 I never sat in the company of revelers,
   never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me
   and you had filled me with indignation.
18 Why is my pain unending
   and my wound grievous and incurable?
You are to me like a deceptive brook,
   like a spring that fails.

19 Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“If you repent, I will restore you
   that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
   you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
   but you must not turn to them.
20 I will make you a wall to this people,
   a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you
   but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
   to rescue and save you,”
   declares the Lord.
21 “I will save you from the hands of the wicked
   and deliver you from the grasp of the cruel.”

Commentary

Change the direction of your heart and mind towards God

The book of Jeremiah is a call to repentance that begins with Jeremiah’s own heart: ‘Therefore, this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman…”’ (15:19). Repentance means changing your heart and mind and turning back to God.

Jeremiah was God’s spokesperson. He turned his heart and mind to listening to the word of the Lord. This was in stark contrast to the false prophets of the day. The Lord says about them, ‘These preachers are liars, and they use my name to cover their lies. I never sent them, I never commanded them, and I don’t talk with them. The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark’ (14:14, MSG).

On the other hand, Jeremiah’s heart and mind was set on listening to the Lord: ‘This is the word of the Lord to Jeremiah’ (v.1); ‘Then the Lord said to me…’ (15:1). He knew how amazing it was to hear the words of the Lord: ‘When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight’ (v.16). Ultimately, this is the only thing that will satisfy the deepest longings of your heart and mind.

Resolve to continue to read God’s words every day and to meditate on them in your heart and mind. Once you have heard the word of the Lord, pass on the life-changing message unchanged: ‘Let your words change them. Don’t change your words to suit them’ (v.19, MSG).

Prayer

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in my eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at my end, and at my departing (Sarum Missal).*

Pippa adds

Colossians 3:12-17

We had these amazing words read at our wedding. And it would suggest that you could have 'perfect unity' if we do these things. So we need to, each day, 'put on' compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and do lots of forgiving in every way - forgive as the Lord forgave us: total forgiveness. And then put on love over the top of all that. It is worth a go!

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References

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Williams Collins, 2013).

Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible (Faithwords, 2018) p.1002.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

  • INTRODUCTION
  • WISDOM BIBLE
  • WISDOM COMMENTARY
  • NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • PIPPA ADDS

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