Dressing for Success: Putting Off and Putting On

“clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”

Romans 13:14, NIV

Ever stand in front of the closet trying to figure out what to wear? I think most of us have at some time. Though, at least in my husband’s case, it only happens on special occasions and usually involves trying to decide which tie goes with the shirt he’s picked out.

Some choices are easy, right? What’s clean? What suits the occasion: sweats or a suit or . . .? What’s the weather supposed to be like today? Having narrowed the options, I still have some choices to make. And that often takes me way too long. I should have learned by now how much easier the morning routine goes if I’ve planned ahead.

Funny, though. I didn’t have any trouble with the taking-off part. Just take off the items that are now soiled or are no longer appropriate. After all, I’m not going to wear that dress or my gym shoes to bed.

It seems that in the spiritual realm we also have less trouble with the putting off. Paul tells us, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22, NIV). And in Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, Paul details some of those old, dirty rags we’re to put off.

Dirty clothes
  • Lying
  • Anger
  • Stealing
  • Unwholesome talk
  • Bitterness
  • Rage
  • Malice
  • Sexual Immorality
  • Greed
  • Foolish talk
  • Filthy language

I suspect that most of us have managed to rid ourselves of these—or most of these. Though they may pop up from time to time—after all, none of us are perfect—they are no longer part of our daily lives. (If one or more of these is, it’s time for some reflection, repentance, and recommitment.)

But we can’t stop with the undressing, with the putting off. What about that putting-on part that Paul talks about in Colossians chapter 3? After all, we don’t want to end up like that misguided emperor from the children’s story—the one clothed only in his own head (“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen). Before heading out—to work, to school, to the grocery store—let’s make sure that we’re properly clothed. We want people to be able to see Jesus, right? Then let’s make sure we are clothed with Jesus.

Thankfully, Paul describes what that would look like. He lists some of the “garments” we are to put on:

  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Gentlenss
  • Patience
  • Forbearance
  • Forgiveness
  • Love–Not just any love. Agape love. And that deserves its own study.
  • Peace
  • Thankfulness

Do you ever think about whether people see these things in your life? How would our world change if this was how we clothed ourselves? How would the lives of those around us change if we brought peace and patience and compassion and all the rest into their lives? The thought challenges me. But it also excites me thinking about the effect I can have on others when I’m properly dressed, clothed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I confess it’s not been something I’ve normally considered. But it is something I’m going to start focusing on. What about you?

Soul Refreshers for your week:

  • I’ve only one suggestion for you this week. Think of how you can add these things to your wardrobe. While it’s true that as Christians we should be displaying all of these, but you may want to focus on one thing at a time. Most of us aren’t good at tackling too many things together. So, choose one or two for the week and gradually add others to your wardrobe. How will you keep this in mind?
    • You could add to your closet the list of items we’re to put on. Then, as you select your physical clothing for the day, you can also choose the spiritual items you’ll be putting on.
    • Or maybe you’ll put the list next to your mirror or on your mirror.
    • Do you check yourself on the way out the door? If so, why not add a note about the item of spiritual clothing you want to put on that day?
    • What about laying out your wardrobe ahead of time? Plan for what you’ll be putting on this week and make it a focus of your daily prayers.
  • Do you have other suggestions for making sure we’re properly dressed? Let us know in the comments your thoughts on the matter.


  1. I was just sitting down to do my devotions this morning when I thought of a way you might teach this concept to children. What about using a magnetic paper doll set, the kind where you get to dress up the doll? You could lable each piece of clothing with one of the things we are to put on, then let the child choose what they’d like to put on for the day: love, kindness, forgiveness…

  2. Such a good reminder to consciously to take off the yuck and put on what God has called us to be. I forget to even look at these things. I love the plan to pick a few and stick them on my mirror.
    In addition to these, I make a point to put on the armor that God has for us in Ephesians 6. It’s part of my morning prayers and sometimes as I get dressed after my shower I’m asking God to put on each piece of armor to make me ready for this particular day.

    1. Love your morning routine, Lisa! You are so right about also putting on the armor of God. I’m grateful God has already stocked our closets with what we need. We just have to remember to pull it out and put it on.

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