Jill's self talk
"I can become a much more beautiful person by being what God wants me to be."
Beauty of Christ ... 1

Clothe yourself with the beauty of Christ

Often we choose clothes because we want to look good, but clothing serves specific functions, depending on culture and fashion. It serves as a covering, affording either privacy or protection from the elements. Clothing also serves symbolically, assigning meaning (as with bridal attire), or ascribing status (as with military uniforms). Furthermore, different types of clothing can serve as a means of identification; enabling easy recognition of roles, such as cook, surgeon, policeman or prisoner; or allegience, like the colours worn by fans showing the football team they support.
As Christians, we may feel there are no fashion mandates applying to the Kingdom of God, however there are certain expectations to show our conformity to be Christ-like. To find the meaning, status and identity of being a true believer, we must focus on the unseen work that God has begun in us, and is continuing to do in us.
The best virtues that a Christian can display are those that reflect the character of Jesus Christ through good works and the inner influence of the Holy Spirit. Our lives align with His when both our internal motivations and our outside actions are consistently godly. For example, when our actions are based on patience, gentleness, humility, compassion and kindness; we can begin to present a powerful image of the disposition of Christ Himself to those around us. These qualities, and those like empathy, love, mercy, justice, grace and forgiveness are the essence of godliness.
These days, many of the clothes we wear are influenced by the considerably powerful fashion industry. You may have heard the saying, 'clothes maketh the man', and it's certainly true for a woman's appearance too. We often dress to impress, and attendance at special events means conforming to the expected codes of attire. For instance, brides are not the only ones who are expected to wear special clothes to a wedding. Many of the guests are also expected to dress up for the occasion. All over the world, weddings are considered special occasions, and this is reflected in special clothing designed for the bride and groom and their attendants. The same was true in Jesus' time. Wedding guests often received special robes to wear to the wedding feast. In Matthew Chapter 22, Jesus tells a parable of a wedding feast as an allegory of the Kingdom of Heaven. In the parable, the king who hosts the wedding party, finds a man without the required wedding garment and has him thrown out.
Christians learn that their invitation to the wedding feast in the Kingdom of Heaven, comes with required clothing provided by Jesus Christ. We're expected to come "clothed in Christ". We're expected to become a faithful representation of Him in this world, adorned with His spiritual qualities and adept in His virtuous ways.
One way to understand this analogy of being clothed in Christ, is to explore the spiritual aspects of Jesus' sartorial elegance, through a historical look at the types of attire worn by the Jews. In Biblical Palestine, a typical Jewish male might wear several layers of clothing, depending on the weather and the purpose. In addition to undergarments, what today are called underwear, there were also inner garments and outer garments. Jesus would have worn the typical garments of a Jewish man of that era, conforming externally to the fashion of that culture. Fortunately Christians today don't have to dress like that, but instead the Apostle Paul urges believers to:
"Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh". (Romans 13:14 NIV)
To be clothed with Christ is to be fashioned in the image of Jesus' character, and decorated with the soulful beauty of God's own unchanging, glorious, eternal nature. It means to put on clothes like the tunic of humility, the sandals of service, the mantle of love and compassion, the prayer shawl of holiness, and the cloak of glory.
Jill's self talk
"As a believer in God, a born again Christian, and a beautiful babe in Christ, I want to embrace this new identity I have been given, and let Christ shine through me, as the dominant force in my life."

The tunic of humility

The tunic was considered an inner garment. Men frequently wore their tunics at knee length, even though ankle length tunics were also acceptable. It was not uncommon for men to strip down to their tunics for labor. John 13:4 tells that Jesus "laid aside His garments" to wash the disciples' feet. He probably took off the outer garments and retained His tunic. The action of washing the feet of His followers, signified both humility and service. A believer who wishes to clothe himself in the humility that Christ modelled, might imagine himself wearing the tunic of humility. "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5 NIV)
The problem for most of us in putting on the tunic of humility is that our ego prevents us. It has a great bias towards self-importance and is incapable of realising our own perverseness. We need to undress and remove the garments of self-adoration in order to see ourselves for what we are really like. The Bible says we are all fallen and sinful to the core before God, and no more deserving than anyone else, because we all lack righteousness with God. Thankfully God's grace is offered to all, and His mercy is not based on our merit.
The best way to counter our over-inflated ego is to over-compensate in our estimation of other people's value. Despite God's incredible perfection, we get a fair indication from the Bible that He is not conceited, and is still determined to value people highly. Therefore, as very imperfect beings, we should all the more emulate God's humility, and repent of conceit or pride, either within or without, as it is unfitting and undeserved. A good understanding of the immeasurable greatness of God will have us holding Him as the object of absolute adoration, and halt us from trying to self-promote ourselves above Him or anyone else. Contrary to popular opinion, self-pride is not from above, but from below; ego will not raise you up, it will find many ways to drag you down.
Humility was one of the most important attributes that Jesus taught and demonstrated to His followers, both in action and in word, even describing Himself as humble, so there would be no confusion. "I am gentle and humble in heart." (Matthew 11:29 NIV) He used children as another example. Jesus emphasized in His teaching that children were not to be overlooked just because they are young and immature, and He rebuked the disciples for not allowing the children to be allowed to come close and listen to Him. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them  for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14 NIV)  Earlier He had said, "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4 NIV)
It's evident that Jesus wasn't an arrogant person, despite His level of wisdom and ability to teach. He wasn't conceited because of His supernatural powers. We read that He befriended all manner of people, including the working class people like fishermen, and others like the tax collector, and He called them to be His disciples. He, Himself, was the son of a carpenter. He talked with a Samaritan woman whose race was not only considered contemptible by the Jews, but the woman's personal reputation was questionable. (John 4:7-18) He touched lepers who were considered unclean. (Matthew 8:2-3) And He performed the role of a lowly servant when He washed His disciple's feet to teach them that as their Lord, He was setting an example of subservience that they should follow. Servants were often considered second class citizens, but Jesus expected leaders to be like servants. Serving others as more important would not have been possible if the Lord was arrogant or conceited, or allowed us to be.
Jesus' humility was demonstrated in His transition from immortality to mortality. The omnipotent, almighty Son of God gave up His place in Heaven's glory, and the endless reign and honor that goes with it; to become a helpless babe, very dependent on human parents for His upbringing. Jesus relinquished His power, position and place in Heaven to come to earth knowing that He would ultimately be unjustly punished and painfully executed. For God's Son to have come to earth as a mortal human seems to be an incomprehensible act of the greatest humility. In comparable terms it might be like a human deciding it would be noble to give up his humanity to become a lowly ant in order to help the plight of ants, knowing that some of those ants would unjustly kill him. At the end of His ministry on Earth, because of His profound love, Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten and humiliated by soldiers and put to death like a criminal at public execution, because it was part of God's plan for Him to suffer much indignity for us.
As we reflect on this, we can appreciate Jesus' willingness to submit to love's demands; often uncomfortable and demeaning demands. An act of sacrifice is only possible when one is free of pride. Jesus demonstrated total surrender of self for obedience to God's will, which is a sign of true and total humility. Like the disciples, we too, must discard our stained rags of self-importance in order to humbly follow Him without pride, acknowledging that the greatest glory, that which is eternal, is derived from the Creator alone. There are some lovely humble people in the world, but it's a specific type of humility that is shown to God, the surrender of our will and our lives to His will, that is of much eternal value. Showing God that you understand His sovereignty, by obedience to His commands and a desire to please Him, is proof of your humility.
"Yours, Lord, is the greatness and power and glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, You are exalted as head over all." (1 Chronicles 29:11 NIV)
"To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more." (Jude 1:24-25 NIV)
Jill's self talk
"I owe my redemption to God's plan. Through it I receive glory from the victory of Jesus. To partake of that glory, it's only fair that I humbly obey the plan that God has for me. Like Jesus, I too will be humble, and put aside all notions of self-importance and selfishness. For only in humility and obedience, through living to please God, can I expect God's beauty to become mine."
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