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New Clothes

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

One thing I notice at the beginning of each year is new clothes. Christmas has just ended, and all those gifts, once packaged under the tree, are on display. We get a fresh, refurbished look, like a house that has just been put up on the market.

But clothes wear when they’re worn. Next Christmas we’ll be looking to replace them, and we’ll repeat the whole thing all over again in 2009.

New clothes can be deceiving. They can give the appearance of a changed man, when in reality the same old person is burrowed beneath. A person has to change more than his wardrobe if he wants to overcome the regret and bitterness of the past.

Pride makes things worse. I remember a story about an emperor who had been swindled by a couple of tailors who told him they had invented a fabric so delicate, so fine that it looked invisible. In fact, they told him that is was invisible to those who were too stupid to appreciate its quality. When they presented the emperor with his new clothes, he saw nothing but air. He dared not protest, fearing that the others could see them and he would be revealed as a dolt. So he played along, strutting his stuff, too proud to see that he was being duped.

The way to truly change is to dress the heart. Paul writes, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:12-14).

This year, dress yourself with something substantial. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a procession and suddenly realizing that you’re naked.