Someone approached me the other day to talk about my recent Heartlight article about “Dressing Down For God.” They skipped over the main points of the article, wanting instead to talk about what we wear when we go to church. The main argument was that people dress up on Sunday to give God their best.
I don’t buy it. That’s a line, not a true motivation. There was a time when people saved their best clothes for Sunday, but it’s not true any more. Those who dress up on Sunday typically dress up on other days as well. The suit they wear for God is the same one they wear to request a loan at the bank. (And if they really want to dress up, men rent a tux and women wear evening gowns)
If we were really trying to give God our best, we would have “Sunday go to meetin'” clothes that we don’t wear anywhere else. They would be by far our best, much nicer than what we wear to meetings, even with heads of state.
Most Jewish families have special plates for the Sabbath. The nicest plates they have. Only for the Sabbath. If you do that, then I’ll listen to your “give God my best” argument. Otherwise, please save it for someone a little more naive.
You don’t have to rent a tuxedo. If you normally wear J.C. Penney’s suits (Sorry women… it’s hard for me to be conversant in terms of your clothing), go buy one at Brooks Brothers. Only for Sunday. Only for church. Only for God. And you can honestly say that you are trying to give your best to God by the way you dress.
Then, of course, we run the risk of following afoul of the instructions which the New Testament gives about how to dress for church: simply. Avoiding ostentation and show. Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for fancy clothes. James warns against showing deference to those who are finely dressed. Women are exhorted to dress simply; is there any reason to think that men would be exempted from that?
Now, just to be sure I annoy everyone, let me say a word about those who think that sloppiness equals godliness. I thoroughly disagree. I think you should be acceptably dressed, acceptable being a key word. It is as wrong to dress to offend as it is to dress to impress. I think our goal should be to dress so that no one notices our clothes!
Wear clean, simple clothes. And be sure to wear the following:
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14)
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)