I have developed a foot problem. I am losing the mobility in my big toe. Now to remedy this I have to wear orthodontics for awhile. My doctor put it nicely, “Your tennis shoes will be your new best friend for awhile.” I have another pair of shoes I can wear too, but they aren’t as pretty as my tennis shoes. I thought I was fine wearing my tennis shoes. I didn’t see a problem, until Sunday.
I was raised to believe you wore your best clothes and shoes to church. I know I am old. Over the years I have learned to accept that jeans and slacks are acceptable. Sandals easily remind me of Jesus sandals so they are okay too. Tennis shoes in church is not a problem on someone else. I have always been in the mindset if that is all you have then please come and feel welcomed in our church. God doesn’t look at what you are wearing. Good sound Christian doctrine right? Well, not so much.
God has been dealing with me a lot lately. This is just one more area. I do believe if you come in your best then okay. If your best is jeans, t shirt and tennis shoes then come. If you arrive dressed up; come. I really don’t care how you come dressed. I just want you to come and experience God’s love, grace and mercy.
So what does God do? He put me to the test to see how I would respond. Well, I failed miserably. I have been uncomfortable going to church in jeans and tennis shoes. We had Communion recently I refused to wear jeans so I put on a skirt and tennis shoes. I thought it looked horrible and I certainly did not like my mode of dress. What would others think of me? I looked great until you looked down on my shoes. A few made some comments; nothing derogatory; more of an observation.
As I sat and took Communion God began to deal with me. I realized at least one of my issues was a pride issue. Pride is arrogance, conceit and smugness. Ouch! Was I being arrogant when I was wearing what I thought I should wear? When I dress up and have on my finer clothes am I conceited and a little smug? Do I feel better than others because I am dressed finer? Ouch again. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” I realized as I sat there I did feel differently when I put on my finer clothes. It made me aware that I can wear those clothes, but I have to be careful about my attitude when I wear them. I have to make sure I am not arrogant or smug when I wear them.
As I sat in the pew I wondered what bothered me so much about wearing tennis shoes and a skirt. I didn’t like my thoughts. I have been afraid of what others might think. I have been afraid others would think less of me because I have tennis shoes on with a skirt; they might laugh at my mode of dress, or they might just think I need to dress better in church. The problem with my thinking is I am judging people for the thoughts they may or may not have. Even if people are thinking that way then I am judging them for thinking that way. Does that make sense? “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 Here as I sit I am judging people for judging me and the worse part of it is they may not be judging me at all. In my volunteer job I often judge others before I hear their story. Then I am remorseful for judging them. I am learning not to judge in my volunteer job, but at church it is a different story. Something else I need to work on, Lord.
1 Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Finally, this verse came to mind. While others may judge my outward appearance God judges my heart. If I believe that then why should I be so concerned about what others think of my dresses with tennis shoes, and skirts with tennis shoes? Why am I not comfortable wearing jeans and tennis shoes to church if I believe God looks at the heart? I need to look inward and see if my heart is in line with God’s teachings. I need to get back to, “the heart of worship” and stop worrying about what I am wearing. If I truly have a heart for God then neither one of us will care what I am wearing.
Why do I believe it is okay for others to wear what they want and not judge them but I have trouble putting myself in their shoes? God has taught me a lot about this. First I need to check my pride at the door and not be arrogant and smug when I decide to wear my finer clothes. I need to not judge others thoughts, because I can’t read other’s thoughts and by judging others God will judge me. I need not worry about my appearance and be more concerned about my heart and attitude while in worship. Also, I think I need to start walking more in other’s shoes. I had a friend a long time ago that was told by an elderly lady in our congregation she needed to wear more dresses and leave the jeans and pants for activities outside the church. It really got to my friend. It hurt her really bad. So maybe by walking in others shoes I can begin to experience the hurt others feel when people feel the need to put them down for the clothes they are wearing. Maybe I can lift them up and help them know it’s all about having the heart of God and not about the clothes you wear. Maybe by coming to worship in jeans and tennis shoes I will make others feel more comfortable in their jeans and tennis shoes and together we can begin to get back to the heart of worship instead of fretting about what others might be thinking.
Do you judge what others wear in worship? Do you try to walk in others shoes? Do you worry your clothes aren’t good enough? Let me remind you of this: 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” God looks at the heart and not your outward appearance.
As for me, I have some lessons to learn, but come Sunday I believe I will worry less about what others might be thinking and work harder on getting back to the heart of worship.
Dear Lord, I know you are dealing with me in so many areas right now. I wonder what is around the corner. I am so sorry for judging others, for the arrogance and smugness I feel every time I wear my finer clothes, and I know now it is a heart issue and not an outward appearance issue. You are teaching me to walk in other’s shoes and to experience what others experience in life. Help me to encourage and lift others up and not tear them down. Help me as I get back to the heart of worship change my heart O God. Amen