Have you picked out your halloween outfit? Every year at this time we have Trunk or Treat at the church building for the children and they come with parents in tow from all around. It is amazing to see both how the children are dressed and how the adults have clothed themselves for the occasion. It is seldom the case that you see anything scary. But there are tons of funny outfits all around. Every year I will get the question from Linda, “Are you going to dress up for tonight?” As is common, it isn’t something that has really crossed my mind until then and the thought of really preparing to dress in some odd way isn’t very appealing.
But it does bring to mind how many times in the New Testament we are challenged to dress or put on a particular kind of clothing and it has nothing to do with dressing up for either church or any other occasion. Paul even spoke of our becoming followers of Christ through faith by being baptized into Christ and PUTTING ON CHRIST in Galatians 3:26-27. He told the disciples in Colossae both to put off clothes like anger, wrath, malice, slander and obscene talk and to put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony “(Colossians 3:12-14).
But one of the strongest challenges about our clothing is found in I Peter 5:5-7. “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” How would a person look dressed up in humility? Let’s face it, humility has never been one of the virtues described in Scripture that most people see the need for or even consider as something they ought to be striving to gain more of in life. Far too often humility is seen as some kind of weakness and something to be avoided if we really long to be successful in life. It should cause us to step back and take a closer look at the whole theme when we consider the fact that Jesus described himself as lowly or humble of heart in the great invitation when he invited us to come unto him to find rest to our soul (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus certainly wasn’t weak in any way. He had authority over the demons, over sickness and death and over the waves and storms of the sea. He later declared that “All authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him.”
So, what does it really mean to be clothed with humility? Humility is the opposite of pride or arrogance where we tend to think of the whole universe as revolving around us. Humility doesn’t suffer from “I” disease. Remember the story of the rich farmer Jesus told of in Luke 12. His crops came in abundantly and he didn’t have enough space in his old barns to take care of all the harvest. Listen to his speech to himself. “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Did you notice how many times the rich farmer used the words “I” and “My”. Everything thing was about him and God called him a fool for his arrogant, prideful and egotistical attitude. What if he had thought instead of how blessed he was and have looked around to see what needs were obvious in the people all around him and declared how he would use some of the abundance God had given him to help others who hadn’t been so blessed? How would God have reacted to him then?
Humility isn’t about putting ourselves down or having a poor me spirit. Humility isn’t when we constantly think of all we can’t do. Instead humility is neither thinking too highly of ourselves or too lowly of ourselves. Humility is when we don’t think of ourselves but focus on the needs and hurts all around us and willingly risk to help the other person. Part of what made the Good Samaritan such a powerful example of loving his neighbor was his willingness to risk his own hurt in order to help the man who had been beaten and left for dead beside the road. When our worries about what could happen to us keep us from opening our hearts and hands to help the one in trouble it is pride that is acting rather than humility.
It is vital for each of us to take a long look into the mirror of our life to see how we are clothed. Be sure to look closely because we can think we have our humility on when it is actually our pride that is showing all over the place. It will always be the one dressed in humility that receives the BEST DRESSED AWARD from God.