Friday, May 12, 2017

Dressing for Success

Washington Irving describes a fellow–fisherman: “One of our party had equalled the Don (Quixote) in the fulness of his being attired capapie (head to foot) for the enterprise. He wore a broad–skirted fustian coat, perplexed with half a hundred pockets; a pair of stout shoes and leathern gaiters; a basket slung on one side for fish; a patent rod, a landing net, and a score of other inconveniences only to be found in the true angler’s armory. Thus harnessed for the field, he was as great a matter of stare and wonderment among the country folk, who had never seen a regular angler, as was the steel-clad hero of La Mancha among the goatherds of the Sierra Morena.”

You can almost always spot tourists fishing an Idaho trout stream: They look like they just stepped out of an Orvis summer catalogue. The locals, by comparison look downright prosaic, a quirky observation that set me to thinking.

I have to get dressed every morning; the Fall mandates it. I stare into my closet and ask myself, “What should I wear?” 

There are no biblical parameters to guide me, beyond being modest in one’s apparel, but it occurs to me that whatever I put on I shouldn't want to be an object of "stare and wonderment."

Advertisements entice us to be noticed, but we have a different motivation: to be “clothed with humility,” (1 Peter 5:5), one practical application of which is the desire to blend in and not attract attention to ourselves. Augustine counseled his students, “Do not attract attention by the way you dress. Endeavor to impress by your manner of life, not by the clothes you wear.”

One practical result of this idea is that we become less preoccupied with ourselves and how we look and thus may begin to think more highly of others than we do of ourselves (Philippians 2:3). George MacDonald put the same idea in his typically delightful way: “The wearer of Grandmother’s (Wisdom’s) clothes seldom thinks about how he or she looks, but thinks how handsome other people are” (The Golden Key).

David Roper

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