Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sunday Clothes


For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” – James 2:2-4

Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of clothes, which may be one reason I’m such a clothes collector now!  At one time, I remember having three pairs of pants that I wore to school – just three pair.  I had a red pair, a white pair, and a rust orange pair.  We just didn’t have money enough to buy a lot of clothes.  But come Sunday….we put on our “Sunday Clothes”.

Sunday clothes were the finest in the closet.  They were always dresses for me, since that’s what girls were allowed to wear to church.  I mean, God could see me in pants the rest of the week, but come Sunday, for some reason, He wanted me in a dress, or so I was told.  So I would dress in my finest, hair nice and neat, shoes clean, and go to church and sit like a little doll in a display case trying not to mess it up by scratching the scabs on my knees from bike wrecks!  And come special occasions like Easter, where clothes were made the focus of the day, it was hard to concentrate on anything the preacher said because you were consumed with what you had on.    

Yes, church had a dress code.  It wasn’t written, or communicated in any certain way.  But should you show up in anything less than your Sunday best, it was obvious the rules had been broken.  You would either feel the stares and have to figure it out on your own, or in one particular case I remember, you would be told, “and next time, don’t wear jeans to church.”  That young man never made it for a “next time” because he didn’t own anything but jeans.

Sadly, there are still people who practice this quiet discipline of Sunday Clothes.  When you enter the doors of places where people comply to a dress code, you can feel it.  It’s a sizing up with a quick scan of the eyes, which read either acceptable, or unacceptable.  But James says that if you pay honor to the persons wearing fine clothes over the persons that don’t, you’ve become “judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:2-4).  Consider that for a second.  Are you really sitting in a pew trying to worship God while having evil thoughts?  Are you really holding people accountable to your standards in the House of God?  Would it not be best to discard the dress code so that no one feels judged for what they wear, and all can feel welcome in His House?  Would it not be best for you to wear even your very oldest, worn out clothes, so that those who cannot afford better don’t feel as if they are less?

There will be a dress code in Heaven, and only one dress code.  You will be required to wear a borrowed robe, a robe of righteousness.  Isaiah 61:9-11 speaks of the robe and says that God “has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  These are the only Sunday Clothes you need to wear.  They don’t cost you a thing, and yet make you presentable to the One you should be worshipping in church.  All the clothes on the racks of the best designer stores won’t do that!

If God is looking at your heart, and He is (1 Samuel 16:7), then your Sunday Clothes are not what He’s seeing.  He’s looking at your robe of righteousness. 

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