Day 281

New Clothes

Wisdom Proverbs 24:17-18
New Testament Colossians 3:1-17
Old Testament Jeremiah 15:19-20

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 24:17-18

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

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 3:1-17

1 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.

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 15:19-20

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.

20 ...for I am with you
   to rescue and save you,”
   declares the Lord.

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!

Thought for the Day

‘To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.’ – C. S. Lewis

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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

  • HOST'S INTRO
  • INTRODUCTION
  • WISDOM BIBLE
  • WISDOM COMMENTARY
  • NEW TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • OLD TESTAMENT BIBLE
  • OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARY
  • PIPPA ADDS
  • HOST'S OUTRO

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