“Dress For Success” was a 1975 bestseller by John T. Molloy about the importance and impact of clothing in a person’s personal and business life. It was followed in 1977 by “The Women’s Dress for Success Book.” These two books popularized the concept of “power dressing.”
Based on scientific data, Molloy not only discussed wearing the right clothes for the right occasion but how one’s attire has a subconscious impact on others who judge you by the clothes you’re wearing. His works were so widely received that Time magazine called Molloy “America’s first wardrobe engineer.’
In 1988 Molly updated both books into one volume reflecting societal changes and attitudes about the way we dress. The last chapter offered advice on dressing appropriately for the occasion.
The Bible speaks of the importance of proper attire, but from a spiritual standpoint, not a material or physical viewpoint. However, this post is not about our physical clothing, but our spiritual clothing. Using the metaphor of our attire, Paul offers this counsel in Colossians 3:12-14.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
After having urged his readers to put off the filthy garments of sin identified as sexual immorality and impurity, lust, greed, idolatry, anger, rage, malice. Lying, slander, and filthy language, Paul then urges them (and us) to be clothed with these 8 virtues.
#1 Compassion. Translated “tender mercy,” this word speaks to a deep-seated emotion of care and concern we ought to truly feel for others. The English word means to bear with. Suffer with. Sympathize with.
Compassion involves sympathy. Empathy. Understanding. It really does feel the pain of another. It is a quality often used to describe Jesus’ feeling about those hurting, scattered, and lost in sin. It’s the underlying emotion that motivated the Good Samaritan to help the hurting stranger.
#2 Kindness. Identified as the fruit of the Spirit and one of the Christian graces listed by Peter, kindness is one of the traits that almost needs no definition. We have an innate understanding what it means to be kind to others. Kindness is being thoughtful. Considerate. Gracious. Kindness is good, mild, and pleasant, as opposed to harsh, sharp, and bitter.
#3 Humility. The ancient world, much like today’s culture did not admire humility. We often elevate a person who’s bold, brash, self-confident, even cocky, and arrogant. Humility is the very opposite. It’s others-oriented.
Humility, however, is not self-depreciation. As R.C. Trench observed, humility, “does not demand undue self-depreciation but rather lowliness of self-estimation and freedom from vanity.”
#4 Gentleness. The trait is often misunderstood as it’s translated “meekness in most versions. However, as Wiersbe wrote, “Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control.” The ancient Athenian philosopher, Xenophon, used “meek” to describe a wild horse that had been tamed, but whose spirit had never been broken. The horse was still lively, vigorous, and energetic, but under control and useful. So, it is with the Christian clothed with gentleness.
#5 Patience. Literally, this word means “long tempered.” A person with a “short-fuse” or “short temper” reacts impulsively, often with hotheaded anger and irrational recklessness. Patience involves restraint, fortitude and endurance.
#6 Forbearance. Closely akin to patience, this word literally means “to hold up” or “to hold back.” Just like the Lord exercises forbearance toward sinners, so we should bear with the foibles and weaknesses of others. The wardrobe of gentleness, patience, and forbearance go together and complement one another.
#7 Forgiveness. This takes our Christian attire to the next level. More than suffering slights, enduring insults, or expressing empathy and refusing to retaliate, is the ability to forgive others of their trespasses against us. It is truly the spirit of Christ to say, “Father, forgive them.” It’s often hard. But is needful. And commanded.
#8 Love. This final garment binds and blends them all together and in perfect harmony and beautiful symmetry. The bond of love draws us closer to God. And one another. It unites our fellowship. Fortifies our families. Strengthens our relationships. And even motivates us to love the unlovable.
These are the true garments of a successful life. It’s a wardrobe that’s never outdated or goes out of style. They will wear well throughout your life. And have you dressed appropriately for your heavenly destination.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman