The Discipline of Living in the Spirit

 By Blake Coffee 

I  have never actually sat down and watched “What Not To Wear” on The Learning Channel. It is, I believe, one of a hundred or so “fashion reality shows” which have captured the TV-watching world’s attention. Silly Man with Taped Glasses

My very limited understanding of it is that the hosts and fashion consultants on the show invade the home of a poor, unsuspecting person whose friends have sold him or her out and throw away all the old clothes in his or her closet which constitute clear fashion risks. When you think about it, it is a pretty humiliating process to have your friends hate your clothes so much that they put you on national television to get you to change. Come to think of it, I suspect my teenage daughters would love a shot at my own closet for this very purpose (dads can be so very uncool).

But the truth is, we all have worn things in the past which we would be thoroughly embarrassed to wear today (e.g., take a look at the wedding pictures of anyone married in the 70s or 80s). To put those things on today and be seen in them would be, well, pretty horrible. This, I believe, is a near-perfect illustration for the discipline of living “in the Spirit.”

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:8-10).

Paul talks about this discipline of living in the Spirit. In this passage, He takes a stroll through our Spiritual closets filled with “old stuff” and says, “throw this away,” “get rid of that,” and “never wear that again.” Paul recognizes that there are some old ways about us, some things that fit our old nature just fine but that look completely ridiculous on us now, and we need to just get rid of them. In their place, we need to don the clothes that fit our new nature. We need to “wear” things that allow the Spirit Who lives in us to shine through. It is not changing our behavior in order to be a Christian, it is changing our behavior because we are a Christian. It is simply putting away our old ways and taking on the look that the Spirit of God portrays through us.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:12-14).

As embarrassing as the process can be sometimes, you have to admit, the new look is worth pursuing. It suits you. It is a great look for you  – and for Christians everywhere.

Blake Coffee is a church mediator and lawyer living in San coffee for webAntonio. His ministry is Christian Unity Ministries.  Learn about it at www.christianunityministries. Follow Blake’s blog at

This article appeared in the Spring/Summer 2013 edition of Reflections magazine where it was reprinted with permission from Church Whisperer.  To read the entire issue, click here.

for your reflectionFor your own reflection:

What are some of the habits, thoughts, ways of treating ourselves and others that have got to go?

Invite yourself to a “spiritual closet cleaning” day and have at it.


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From The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

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