Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kelly Minter's book, The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ, (David C. Cook, 2011).
Whenever your decisions are guided by selfishness rather than love for Christ, it’s as if you’re walking around in ugly clothes and not even realizing how distasteful you seem to other people. But when you take off selfish attitudes and put on Christian virtues, others can see incredible beauty when they encounter you.
Here’s how you can put on spiritual clothes that reflect Christ’s character:
Recognize that God has chosen you to wear these clothes. God has chosen you to go on this spiritual journey of developing Christ’s character. You don’t need to be overwhelmed at the thought of how much you need to grow as a person to develop holy virtues to wear, because God knows exactly what kind of help you need, and He will empower you every step of the way.
Invite God to fit you for these clothes. Fitting into spiritual clothes doesn’t happen just by trying to manage your behavior; it becomes possible when you invite God to transform you from the inside out, making you holy. When you cooperate with God’s work in your life to change your soul for the better, you’ll naturally be able to fit into the spiritual clothes that He wants you to wear.
Discover the secret to wearing these clothes well. Fill your mind with thoughts about the reality of God’s deep, unconditional love for you. The knowledge of God’s love is the secret to wearing spiritual clothes well, because it gives you the confidence and freedom you need to develop Christian virtues. Rather than being afraid of failing in your own efforts to modify your behavior, you’re free to enjoy the process of God working in your life, trusting that His work won’t fail.
Take off your old clothes. Take a hard look at yourself in a spiritual mirror to notice what kinds of clothes you’re currently wearing that God doesn’t want you to wear. Ask family members and friends who know you well to be honest with you about ways God may want you to change your character. Strip off ugly garments such as pride, anger, bitterness, lust, greed, lying, worry, and impatience by confessing them and repenting of them in prayer to God.
Put on forgiveness. Accept the forgiveness that God offers you when you repent, and let your gratitude for His forgiveness motivate you obey His command to forgive other people who have hurt you. Keep in mind that, even when you don’t feel like forgiving someone, you can always make the choice to start the forgiveness process despite your feelings, and then rely on God’s help to forgive every step of the way. Accepting God’s forgiveness for your own sins that you’ve repented of will free you from guilt and shame, and forgiving others who have sinned against you will clear the poison of bitterness out of your soul – which all will make it possible for you to grow closer to God.
Put on peace. Start by making sure that you’ve begun a relationship with Christ as your Lord and Savior, placing all of your trust in Him. You can experience peace only when you’re in right relationship with God through Christ – one that’s unbroken by sin, because Christ has paid the price of sin for you. Whenever the stress of life in this fallen world disrupts your sense of peace, pray for peace, and Christ will faithfully give you a fresh dose of the peace that only He can give. Since God Himself is your peace, ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of His constant presence with you, and let that awareness give you peace strong enough to overcome any stressful feelings you go through. Do your best to faithfully live the way God calls you to live in every part of your life, since faithful choices naturally lead to life that’s free of unnecessary stress.
Put on kindness. Rather than looking out just for your own interests, look out for the interests of other people. Ask God to help you notice when people need encouragement, comfort, and help, and take advantage of every opportunity that God brings your way to respond to their needs with kind words and actions. Keep in mind that God showed kindness to you by having mercy on you and sending Christ to die for your sins so you could be saved.
Put on humility. Just as Christ humbled Himself to leave heaven and come to Earth to serve people, you should follow His example by relinquishing your rights when doing so will help you serve others. Ask God to reveal pride that is preventing you from developing humility; then confess and repent of that pride. Abandon your selfish ambitions so you can join God in the humble yet powerful work of helping others.
Put on compassion. Ask God to help you notice the needs of the people He wants you to help, and to give you a desire to help them so you can reach out in love instead of just a sense of duty. Reflect on all the ways you’ve personally suffered in the past, and ask God to show you how you can help other people who are currently suffering in similar ways. Learn about the needs of the people around you; listen to their stories. Don’t hesitate to take action whenever you sense God leading you to help people in need.
Put on patience. Reflect on your life to consider the many ways in which God has been patient with you, and let your gratitude for His patience motivate you answer His call to be patient with other people. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to invest in the lives of the people around you and develop patience as you make sacrifices to build stronger relationships.
Put on joy. Worldly pursuits can bring you clothes of happiness that you can temporarily wear, but they’ll inevitably fade away, leaving you feeling naked and desperately searching for the next new thing that can cover you with a sense of happiness for a while again. But the joy that God will clothe you with has the power to last, no matter how your circumstances change. You can put on joy when you’ve responded to God’s love by putting on the other virtues. Once you experience the many ways those virtues make your life beautiful, you’ll enjoy your life.
Adapted from The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ, copyright 2011 by Kelly Minter. Published by David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, Co., www.davidccook.com.
Kelly Minter is an accomplished author, songwriter and performer. She leads worship across the country, taking part in LifeWay conferences and their annual Women’s Forum. Kelly resides in Nashville, Tennessee. You can contact Kelly at: firstname.lastname@example.org visit her website at: www.kellyminter.com.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Whitney also blogs about writing and editing on her website: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/. You can contact Whitney at: email@example.com send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience.