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

We often choose our clothes because we want to look good, but clothing serves specific functions, depending on the 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, clothing can serve as a means of identification, enabling easy recognition of roles; such as cook, doctor, policeman or prisoner, etc.
Various events and functions carry dress codes which are expected to be adhered to. People who attend black tie balls, for instance, go to great lengths to look beautiful and well presented. The dress for success dogma is very prevalent in business, and socially dressing to impress can sometimes become a competition of sorts, often costing a lot of money to match the level of our peers.
In our quest to appreciate beauty, we may consider how nice clothes help make us look better, enhance our image and add value to our status. The types of clothes we wear say a lot about who we are and create all kinds of impressions. 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.
The best virtues that a Christian can display are those that reflect the character of Jesus, and even the presence of the Holy Spirit. And since we are called to do the things that Jesus would do, our lives align to the Kingdom when both our inside motivations and our outside actions are consistent with certain ideals. Regardless of how we look on the outside, when our actions are based on patience, gentleness, humility, compassion and kindness; we begin to present to those around us a powerful image of the disposition of Christ Himself. These qualities, and those like empathy, love, mercy, justice, grace and forgiveness are the essence of godliness. If wearing a designer label comes with a degree of esteem and prominence, does the label of Christian carry any value at all these days?
These days many of the clothes we wear are influenced by the considerably powerful fashion industry. And attendance to 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 also dress up for the occasion.
All over the world, weddings are considered very 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 for the wedding feast. In Matthew chapter 22, Jesus tells a parable of a wedding feast as an allegory of the Kingdom of Heaven. In verses 11-13 of 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”; as if by emulating His spiritual qualities and virtuous life, we were putting on garments. A similar sentiment is that well-known verse, “Put on the full armor of God”, the belt, the breastplate, the helmet, etc. To better understand these analogies, one way is to explore the spiritual aspect of Christ’s sartorial elegance through a historical look at the types of attire worn by the Jews, and see how it compares to our attire.
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 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 put on the vestments that project inner beauty, such as: the tunic of humility, the sandals of service, the mantle of love and compassion, the prayer shawl of holiness, and the cloak of glory. To be fashioned in the image of Jesus’ character, is to be decorated with the soulful beauty of God’s unchanging eternal disposition.
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, not of outward adornment. 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 modeled, would embrace the attitude 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 implementing humility is that our ego constrains us. The ego has a great bias towards self-importance and is not able to realise its own perverseness. We need to undress and remove the garments of self-adoration in order to see ourselves for what we are really like, fallen and sinful to the core before God. As fallen beings, we are certainly no more deserving than anyone else, yet God graces us with certain beautiful gifts, such as His righteousness. The best way to counter our over-inflated ego is to over-compensate in our estimation of other people’s value, to put them first, so as to prevent us from ever coveting a position ahead of them, or in front of them in the queue of needs or importance. In this way we value the position that comes with righteousness with God, and not that which comes from trying to promote ourselves before others.
While intending to emulate Christ, we have to discern God’s incredible perfection given to us by grace, and to notice He is not conceited about it, so neither should we. The truth is we are very imperfect beings, and we surely should not entertain conceit or pride in ourselves, either within or without, as it is most unfitting and undeserved. A good understanding of the immeasurable greatness of God will have us regarding Him as the object of absolute adoration, not trying to self-promote ourselves above Him or anyone else. Let Christ be adorned in His cloak of glory, while we bear our tunics with humility.
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 so there would be no confusion, “I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Matthew 11:29 NIV) 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 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)
We understand that while He was on earth, the Lord befriended the “lowly” working class people including fishermen. He did not despise the tax collectors, but even called one of them to become His disciple. He talked with a Samaritan woman whose race was not only considered contemptible by the Jews, and whose personal reputation was questionable. (John 4:7-18) He touched lepers who were considered unclean. (Matthew 8:2-3) And yes, He performed the role of a lowly servant when He washed His disciple’s smelly dirty feet, to teach them that as their Lord He was setting an example of subservience for them to follow.
In relating to other people, Jesus wasn’t arrogant because of His own wisdom, or conceited because of His extraordinary abilities. This is surprising, that Jesus wasn’t puffed up with His own importance, because throughout the Bible the God is described like this. “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the 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 Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore.” (Jude 1:24-25 NIV) Jesus had every right to demand praise and be prideful, yet He didn’t.
Jesus’ humility was primarily evident in His transition from immortality to mortality. The omnipotent, almighty Son of God gave up Heaven’s glory, endless reign and the honor that goes with it, to become a helpless babe. He went from creating and ruling the universe to being totally dependent on human parents for His upbringing. Jesus relinquished His former power, position and place in Heaven to come to earth knowing that He would ultimately be unjustly accused, punished and executed. This seems to be an incomprehensible act of the greatest self-effacement. In comparable terms, it might be like a human deciding to become a lowly ant, live among them, and die for them, believing that would be the most gallant way for a human to help the plight of ants.
At the end of His ministry on Earth, because of His profound love, He allowed Himself to be beaten and humiliated by soldiers and put to death like a criminal at a 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 His willingness to submit to love’s demands, an act that is only possible when one is free of pride. Jesus demonstrated total surrender of self through obedience to God’s will, showing how His submission was the essence of true and total humility. If this was God's plan for Jesus; we too, must discard the stained rags of our own self-importance, in order to humbly follow Him without any form of personal pride, acknowledging that true glory is the Creator’s alone.
The next time you see someone dressed beautifully, imagine if they would be prepared to put an apron on over their fine clothes.  If it was God’s will for them to do so, would they strip down to their tunic and get their hands dirty to wash some feet, or serve some meals to the homeless in the un-glamorous streets of a poor neighborhood? Stepping down, or giving up the power of self, to be un-glamorous, to help in some less attractive but useful ways, requires a power and beauty of spirit not found with, and not possible with pride.
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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