Cleaning the Closet

Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, forgiving one another…. But above all these things put on love. Colossians 3:1213, 14 (NKJV)

I’ve got closet full of clothes I hesitate to throw away. There are my “fat” clothes and my “skinny” clothes, outdated clothes and classic clothes that never go out of style, casual clothes and dressy clothes, comfy clothes and those that aren’t so comfortable, clothes with missing buttons, broken zippers, and holes in the fabric with some use left in them.

Every spring and fall I go through my closet, sorting and organizing, weeding out those I don’t fit into anymore and will probably never fit into again, those that just aren’t my style any longer and those I’ve grown tired of.

I make four piles: pitch, give away, keep, and I don’t know. Clothes that are threadbare or torn (I don’t sew) go on the pitch pile, destined for the rag bin or garbage. The giveaway pile is for clothes I haven’t worn in a year and probably won’t wear even if I slimmed down enough to fit into them, yet they still have enough wear in them for someone else. The clothes I keep are the ones I wear frequently, the ones I’ll need for special occasions, and the ones that don’t go out of style. Clothes that I can’t decide whether to keep or to toss go on the I-don’t-know-pile.

I confess: More goes back into the closet than out the door, but I figure if I could get rid of at least one item that has lost its usefulness, I’m ahead.

I need to have a regular cleaning session with my spiritual closet, too. But for those items I need only two piles: pitch and keep.

Onto the pitch pile go resentment, anger, gossip, envy, deceit, lies, greed, pride, selfishness—all those things that came with my sinful nature. Like old clothes that no longer fit, we must put off that old nature—a nature we were slaves to before we received Jesus as Savior and Lord—a nature that no longer has power over us because it is no longer in us.

“If anyone is in Christ,” Scripture says, “he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“Put off the old self, which is corrupted by its deceitful desires,” wrote St. Paul to the Ephesians. “Instead put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).

Too often I push those old attitudes and emotions back in the closet where I can’t see them, but still they take up room, crowding and wrinkling the ones I need to put on often.

And what are the clothes I should put on?

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and love. Love is the one item I must not be without. It is the one that, like a jacket, coat, or shawl, covers all the others.

Cleaning out the closet is never a fun thing to do, but when it’s done—and done right—we have all the wardrobe we’ll ever need. A wardrobe that will never wear out or go out of style. A wardrobe that fits better and becomes more comfortable the more we put it on.

 Help me, Lord, to clean out my closet regularly. Give me the wisdom to see those items that I must put off and those I must put on. Amen.

Read and reflect on Colossians 3:1–17.

© 2015, 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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