You Are What You Wear – Kinda


We’ve all seen them – those hilarious T-shirts people wear with funny slogans – I always go away thinking how clever and creative they are. Here are just a few that have recently caught my eye: “Sorry I‘m late – I didn’t want to come.” “Sometimes I talk to myself and we both laugh.” “A fun thing to do in the morning is not talk to me.” “Patience at 1%.” And one I often wear: “To save time let’s assume I know everything!” It’s also my husbands favorite when we are out together. Not!!

These shirts say a lot about the people who wear them – often intentional. In the 1880’s Mark Twain coined the phrase, “The clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” The idea is that what you wear says a lot about you, namely what’s important to you and often your social or work status, etc. For sure, the world we live in today makes a lot of evaluations based on our external appearances!

Strange as it sounds, it’s actually very Biblical. 1 Samuel 16:7 gives us a fascinating revelation, both of people and God. God had sent Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel, which ended up being King David. Samuel had checked out seven of Jesse’s sons but none of them was “the one.” Then – here’s what the Lord told Samuel: “Don’t judge by his appearance or height…the Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Such true words!

There’s something in our society known as “representative bias” – this is what causes us to make conclusions with very little information. Basically, representative bias can be defined as “the tendency not to treat every person as an individual, but to make assumptions based on traits we observe.” So, if you take notice of a cute, blond gal in tight-fitting yoga pants climbing into a minivan, you are going to come to certain conclusions about her. Or, if you see a sneaky-looking guy in a pinstriped suit, slicked-back hair, with a cigar and a violin case, you are probably going to assume he’s not your bus driver. Probably a good deduction!

Miuccia Prada made this astute observation: “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” She could not be more right – again; people look on the outside. There’s an old idiom that’s been around forever: “Dress for the job you want.” If you want to make a good first impression, think about what you are putting on your earth-suit. What’s your objective for the day? Someone once observed, When a woman says, “I have nothing to wear!” what she really means is, “There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”

That’s funny but kinda true – and we can continue that observation with this question: what about the clothes we can’t see? Colossians 3:12-14 advises us to “dress in the wardrobe God picked out for us: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline…and regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” The context here is one of dressing ourselves. God may provide the clothes through His Holy Spirit, but we are the ones to put them on – or not. And that last item – love – is said to be Christianity with its work clothes on! The “don’t leave home without it” item! As Christ-followers, if we are indeed to “dress for the job” we must remember that we are Ambassadors for Christ every day, in every encounter, and every time we step foot outside our homes.

Yousuf Karsh photographed famous people and included 96 of them in his book, Portraits of Greatness. What’s fascinating about these faces is that so many were not attractive – of these 96 people, 35 had moles or warts; 13 had noticeable freckles or liver spots; 20 had obvious traces of acne or other pimples; 2 had highly visible scars. In a world where external visuals can be everything, these “flaws” could be devastating. But that is so superficial, isn’t it?!

My husband is always telling our congregation, “We are bigger on the inside then on the outside.” Bring your best inside-person to the table and dress in God’s best because, again, as Mark Twain said: “Naked people have little or no influence on society.” And by the way – this is a one-size fits all tee.

Bob and Susan Beckett pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA. For more information, you can contact them at

Susan Beckett | The Dwelling Place City Church

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