Thursday, August 7, 2008

Garments of Grace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galations 5:22-23


Some weeks ago I joined some sisters for a time of prayer and fellowship. This was no ordinary meeting but one of which we hope will be the start of many praying for our city and nation. In the meeting one sister shared the vision of going into something new and taking off our old grubby garments we so often wear, and replacing them in faith with the new garments already purchased for us which we so often fail to put on. I'm not talking about physical items of clothing but the beautiful garments of grace as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. It was quite an emotional time as we "put off" much of what would be classed as the old man's garments and in faith "put on" our new clothes (see Ephesians 4:22-24) I decided to commemorate that time by choosing a symbolic design to stitch on a Bible cover I am making for myself. It is a a beautiful yet simple design of the outline of an angel but with different patches of colours and patterns on it. I saw this as a perfect symbol of the different garments of grace.

I would also like to share something that happened to my friend the week she shared with us about putting on our garments of grace. Earlier in the week she was contemplating on the bus the fruits of the spirit as garments of many colours. The moment she was thinking this she looked up and saw a poster of a dove (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) with feathers of different colours!Unfortunately, too often our motives are self-centered rather than God-centered.

Encouraged by all of this, I bought Jerry Bridges' book The Fruitful Life to help in my study of these graces. As I began to read the first chapter I was so humbled! Before we even consider these aspects of godly character the reader is taken through a set of principles, one of which makes us question our motives. The author, Jerry Bridges, mentions that;

"Unfortunately, too often our motives are self-centered rather than God-centered. We want to maintain our reputation before others, or we want to feel good about ourselves. Or we may even seek to live a decent moral life or to do good deeds because such an ethics has been instilled in us from childhood. But that motivation is never related to God and thus is not acceptable to Him."

That just as we can dress outwardly to feel good about ourselves or look good (which in itself is not wrong) we can do the same with the graces. I was so completely humbled by this. You can read chapter one of the book here.

Also later in the chapter we see that just as "the power for Christlike character comes from Christ, the responsibility for developing and displaying that character is ours." Again, as with our outer garments which are readily available to us it is our responsibility to put them on. When we are obedient and do our part God does His in the most amazing and beautiful way. The power for Christlike character comes from Christ, the responsibility for developing and displaying that character is ours.

We are blessed to have garments provided for us for every situation. Some of us wear one better than the other. For example, as a mother, I may at times become flustered and frustrated with the children and need to change into my garment of long-suffering. Others though may be more comfortable in long-suffering than me but perhaps they feel a little uncomfortable in joy?

It's quite exciting to think that we as Christians are provided with the most beautiful wardrobe imaginable! Yet all too often we can neglect this wardrobe by talking of putting off and stopping there. We fail to bring in the balance by replacing what we have taken off (such as bitterness, rage, slander and so on) with the fruits of the Spirit, our garments. Put them on by faith and rejoice in the Lord even when we don't feel like it!

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Geraldine, How uncanny that you would post this! It suddenly dawned on me that after I posted twice about how the human body is made in the image of God, it seems only appropriate to now address the garments we are to put on that body. If our physical bodies are made in God's image (patterned after the Bible), then it only makes sense to rid ourselves of the old rotten garments of self-centeredness and instead wrap ourselves in garments of grace. Thanks for posting this!

Sammybunny said...

Wonderful post, ladies! How true it is!