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Like most men, I didn’t think much about what style of clothing I wore until I became interested in girls, which was sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Then, I became very concerned. Thankfully, I avoided the parachute pants and Members Only jacket craze of that era and went straight to preppy. I’ve been wearing button-down shirts and khaki pants ever since. Fortunately, I married a woman who thinks I dress just fine.
I tell you that in order to tell you this: Most people choose clothes in order to gain the esteem of other people. Dressing fashionably is really an attempt to be popular or well liked. And attempting to be popular can induce a great amount of anxiety in the attempter. If you don’t believe me, try telling your teenage daughter that she can’t wear the latest fashion and see what emotional reaction that produces in her.
In Matthew 6.28–30, Jesus had this to say about our clothing: “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Have you ever thought about the connection between fashion and faith? Jesus did, and he drew three conclusions: (1) The lilies of the field are more beautiful than Solomon’s splendid clothing. (2) The lilies don’t exert effort to be beautiful. And (3) God will clothe you more beautifully than the lilies. Please don’t think Jesus is promising Tommy Bahama shirts for all Christian men and Ann Taylor dresses for all Christian women. I think, instead, Jesus is promising to provide us with something better than mere outward adornment. What he is promising is true character and inward beauty—that our little faith would grow up and become great—the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3.4)
Pay particular attention to that last phrase. True character or inward beauty is of “great worth in God’s sight.” I wrote earlier that most people choose clothes in order to get the esteem of other people. Since fashions change, most people must constantly change fashions in order to remain popular. What the Bible teaches us is first that what really matters is God’s esteem, not that of people. And second, what people esteem most is not what a person wears but how a person acts. True character and inward beauty never change. People always seek out friendships with those whose lives are characterized by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5.22, 23).
If through God’s grace we clothe ourselves with those virtues, we will never lack for friendship, regardless of how fashionable our clothes may be.