“Who are you wearing?” Does that not sound like an odd question? It is, unless you are a celebrity walking the so-called “red carpet” prior to a major entertainment event, such as the Academy Awards for motion pictures or the Grammy Awards for music. Then we understand the question to mean, “Who designed the gown (or outfit) you are wearing?” In response, we receive a list of wonderful costume designers who excel at making people look good by covering their faults and flaws with beautiful costumes.
This is not a recent phenomenon. During the Renaissance Era, for instance, lavish costume balls were staged with dignitaries showing up in elaborate masks and even more elaborate suits and dresses. Most people share a common desire to cover themselves with costumes to conceal their true identity. Even fictional superheroes of comic books, like Superman, Ironman, Spiderman and Batman, wear costumes.
Putting on outfits of disguise seems deeply entrenched in our collective psyche. Children find it liberating to play “dress up.” We find it enjoyable when people we know do not know who we are because of our attire. I remember working for a company years ago where part of my job was dressing up in a cow costume and attending public events. Since no one knew who I was, I felt empowered to act zany and feel totally free.
In the workplace, “costumes” can support our need to succeed. Years ago the book Dress for Success became a big seller, advising business and professional people how to select and wear clothing that would enhance how their colleagues and clients would respond to them. Standards for proper attire have changed greatly, but we still have the tendency to evaluate people according to how they look on the outside.
Even the Bible affirms this. In 1 Samuel 16:7 it states, “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
That simple passage makes two important points. One is that we can be fooled by the way people appear externally, unable to see their inner motives or hear their secret thoughts. As the adage tells us, “Looks can be deceiving.” The other is that although we might be able to disguise ourselves to other people, God can see through our “costumes” and understand who we really are. That is why Proverbs 16:2 declares, “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
But there is another aspect to the question, “Who are you wearing?” most of us never consider. According to the Scriptures, after we die we will face a judgment day in which we will hear a question similar to “Who are you wearing.” If we answer that we are wearing “good works” or “well-meaning efforts,” the Bible says that will not be sufficient. Only one “costume” will be accepted on that day. Let me explain.
One passage, Galatians 3:26-28, states, “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Another verse tells us, “put off the old self…and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-2). There are many similar passages, but each reaffirms when we stand before God for our individual day of judgment, only the covering of Jesus Christ – the “robes” He has made for us – will receive divine approval. On that very special day, who will you be wearing?
Len M. Allen lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., U.S.A. and is a veteran of more than 35 years in the corporate worlds of retail, television, radio, newspapers and advertising. He is the author of Unemployed: Life in the Wilderness.
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1. Have you ever observed celebrities on the “red carpet” prior to special events like awards shows or film premieres? What do you think of the question they often hear, “Who are you wearing?”
2. How important is it for you to look right, whether you are going to work, spending an evening out, or attending a social event? Explain your answer.
3. What would be your definition for “dressing for success,” whether in the workplace or life in general?
4. When carrying out your responsibilities in the workplace, when people meet you or even watch when you’re not aware, who do they see? Are you covered with Jesus?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 21:2; Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23,13:12-14; Ephesians 6:11-15; Revelation 7:9-15