Thursday, February 6, 2020

Two Purposes for Clothing: Usefulness and Honor

In my most recent sermon, "Trusting God for Your Daily Bread," I took a moment to comment on the two main purposes for the covering that clothing provides and how these purposes should guide us in our choice of clothing.
By the way, we see here [in Matthew 6:25-34], and elsewhere in the Bible, two main purposes for clothing: first, it is a necessity of life to protect you from the elements, and second, it is adornment to give honor. The entrance of sin has made both things more necessary, by the curse making conditions harsher and by introducing shame among humanity (Gen. 3). These two purposes also should guide us in the clothing we choose. As Peter Martyr Vermigli, one of the 16th century Reformers, said, "since clothes were invented for usefulness and honor in this present life, those [clothes] that lack these two properties deserve censure" ("Theses on Genesis," 1543). Some people only pay attention to one of these purposes, while others today throw out both purposes and choose clothing that is both impractical and shameless. But we are humans, and especially in this age, we need clothing to protect us and dignify us. 
I could refine the point further and say that in some situations one of these purposes may be more important than the other (e.g. usefulness is more important when weeding the garden and honor is more important at a wedding), although both should always be kept in mind. Also, I will add that John Calvin has a similar remark on clothing in his commentary on 1 Peter 3:3, "Two things are to be regarded in clothing, usefulness and decency; and what decency requires is moderation and modesty."

In the sermon, I then go on to reconnect this point with the main point, which is that God cares for the needs of his children.
Sometimes good clothing is hard to come by, and we are reminded in the epistle from James to not show partiality based on whether someone has clothing which is fine or shabby (James 2:1-13). But even if you don’t always have the clothing you want, God knows that you need it and he will clothe his children. If he gives protection and adornment to the grass of the field which lasts for a day, will he not also sufficiently provide for you?

No comments: