Message of the Week: Get it right
I walked by a yard the other day that reminded me of my past. Does anyone remember when everyone hung clothes out on the line to dry?
I remember being taught how to hang out clothes. My aunt taught me that first you have to wipe down the clothes line! What a waste, now you have another item dirty! Then, you had to hang them so others in the neighborhood wouldn't drive by and find you lazy or disorganized. My mother was less concerned about this, but for my aunt how the clothes were hung was a source of pride. I learned you hung socks, shirts and pants by the toes, the tails and the cuffs. You never wasted clothespins; you hung clothes just close enough together that one clothespin held opposite ends of two items. It also mattered when you completed this task, if you hung them on a Sunday people would know you weren't sick if you had missed church. You hung personal items between other items so no one could see them. Clothespins were neatly gathered together and placed in a special bag that hung on the clothesline for use, but was never left there for the "critters" to get into on days that weren't a wash day. There were rules and you had better get it right.
Back then, and in some neighborhoods today, you can tell a lot about people by what is hanging on the line. Not just the neatness and organization factor, but also what is happening in their lives. A new baby, guests visiting, vacation times or illness were easily recognized without ever knocking on the door, just by watching the changing laundry.
Paul talked about our lives as if they were that kind of laundry. He suggested that living the Christian life is like changing clothes and your life was a witness like a clothesline. It was all about what you chose to wear for the day; the old self or the new self. Just like you look in your dresser or closet, you decide each day what you will wear spiritually.
Perhaps it's garage sale time for your spiritual wardrobe. Don't worry, that empty closet never stays empty for long. God wants to clothe you in his image, with righteousness and holiness. It's time to shop for a new spiritual wardrobe! But first, let's sort through the closet.
If we were choosing what to wear, Paul suggests it's all about what we put off and what we put on. Let's start with a box for the garage sale and a shopping list for an all new wardrobe. Scripture gives us a great list to check, starting with integrity. Falsehood goes in the garage sale box and speaking truthfully goes on the shopping list. Don't lie, even to yourself.
The next has to do with how we increase our value in wealth. Put stealing in the garage sale box and put doing something useful with your own hands so you can help others in need on the shopping list. Take greed out of the closet and replace it with generosity.
Next we address our communication. The garage sale box gets unwholesome talk and talking for your own benefit. The shopping list gets speaking to build others up and talking for the benefit of your listener.
Then there is the relationship section. Garage sale bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander and every intent to do harm. The shopping list gets compassion, forgiveness, and healthy short-lived anger.
Now that we have all the garage sale stuff set aside, maybe it isn't good enough to pass on to others after all. Perhaps we change the name on the box to burn pile. But where do you shop for these new clothes and how are you going to afford them? Some you may have found already hanging in your closet. Many of them you will recognize as gifts from the one who created you; the one who knows you best and loves you most. It is really his closet where you find what you need. He just lets you wear the clothes he has purchased with you in mind. You are a steward of the closet he has provided for you.
Remember that God has an outfit for you chosen with the challenges this day will bring already in mind. You know whose you are, now it's time to choose who to be. Will you be that person you were in the past or put on a new life? Which life will you choose? Will you choose the life of the old self that is being corrupted by its deceitful desires or the new life you chose by the attitude of your mind?
It's your choice, but it's important to get it right.