It was 1980. Our children were ages 7, 4, and 1. One morning the 4-year-old was pestering the other two terribly. Finally, I’d had enough. I grabbed him firmly by the shoulders, looked him in the eyes, and sternly said, “Look at your shirt!” (He was wearing his Superman shirt.) “See Superman? You wanted to wear that and be like Superman today, didn’t you? Well, Superman doesn’t hurt little babies and sisters. Now that’s about enough!”
Do you think he straightened up after that? No. He went and changed shirts!
Possibly he was experiencing a bit of guilt and didn’t see himself as worthy of continuing to wear his hero’s shirt. But in the moment, it seemed more like he wanted to go on pestering but needed clothing better suited to that kind of behavior!
OK, the child was 4. Let’s not be too hard on him. But when I was reminded of that event these many years later, I couldn’t help evaluating myself (after cracking up, of course!). Do I sometimes “change shirts” in order to behave badly? Do I sometimes lay aside what the Lord wants—even though by now I surely know that his way is THE way? Might not hurt us all to stop and remind ourselves of the relationship between our “clothing” and our behavior:
- “I delight greatly in the LORD. … He has … arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10)
- “Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11)
- “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 13:14)
- “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith … [and] have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)
- “You were taught … to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22, 24)
- In the messages to the churches in Revelation, the church in Sardis was described as having “a few people … who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me [the Lord], dressed in white, for they are worthy.” (Revelation 3:4)