Saturday, August 20, 2011

THE ALL-PURPOSE GARMENT

"Do everything in love." ~1 Corinthians 16:14

I think you can tell a lot about a person by how they dress. Someone who typically spends his days in a suit followed by a polo shirt for leisure is creating a professional look. A person who likes to wear faded, worn-out jeans and a tye-dye t-shirt with a giant peace sign projects the "hippie" persona. A woman who loves to wear very low cut, clingy tops and short skirts is probably an attention-seeker. The preppy look implies prosperity and the good life. The ultimate garment of self-denial and service is the nun's habit. I am not suggesting that we look at how people dress and make judgment calls based on their attire. But let's face it; there's a reason why we dress the way we do.
I am a pretty casual dresser, but every once in a while, I love to get dressed up. On these rare occasions, I enjoy the whole process of finding the right dress and shoes. When I have the outfit in place, I give my hair and make-up more than the usual few minutes. I cannot ignore this last and most important final step. If I were to put on a really nice dress, but ignore my hair and my face, I wouldn't look complete. I would look in the mirror and see that something critical was missing.
It's the same thing with love in today's section on God's garments. "And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." I can be wearing all the other pieces of clothing mentioned in the past few days...but if I'm not wearing love, I am incomplete in my attire. My presentation to the world will be lacking. It's what pulls the whole look together. 
Again, I need to look to the One who has chosen my clothing. Just like compassion, I need His help in putting on the garment of love. This lesson has been a very slow one for me to learn. I consider myself to be a loving person. The list of people I genuinely love is long. But the type of love that is woven into this garment is a whole different quality of fabric than what I am used to wearing. It's the type of love that is referred to in the passage that says, "God is love." This isn't a warm, fuzzy love. This is a gut-wrenching, selfless, unconditional, extravagant love that always looks out for the interests of others. By this definition of love, I fall so short. And try as I might, I will never be able to squeeze into this type of fabric on my own. Again, only God can complete the process of preparing me for such a rich garment. It won't happen overnight. God has been working on my makeover for over twenty-five years. But that's because He's getting the fit just right. And in the process, I am learning what not to wear.

"There are many things God calls us to do, but loving well always comes first." ~John and Stasi Eldredge       

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