There is an old saying, “Clothes don’t make the man”. This is true. Just because you dress like a king, doesn’t make you a king.
Years ago I did hear a small extension to this saying and it goes like this: “Clothes don’t make the man, but it sure introduces him”.
A while back I was dropping into a cafe at the Knox Ozone. As I was driving there I noticed a lot of groups of people standing out on the grass areas on Burwood Highway. Being from a mining town – strong Union town – this was not an unusual scene to me. Union meetings were often held just off the premises during industrial disputes.
As I parked I saw a large media frenzy. Again I thought it to be tied to industrial action at the shopping centre. There were some Police around. Again not that unusual. I passed right by this crowd, not really my business and I headed for the cafe.
I was deeply engrossed in my own thoughts as I was preparing mentally for the meeting I had to attend.
As I walked swiftly and with intent towards the Knox Ozone I became increasingly aware that something was different. And as I passed a usually busy cafe I saw it was empty…this struck me strange. Immediately I began to pay attention to my surroundings only to discover, in an instant that I had crossed Police lines and had entered into a no-go zone or crime scene (I found out later it was due to a bomb scare).
As I was in full stride still, I then looked up at 2 plain cloth detectives discussing something with each other as they looked at a clipboard. They both looked up at me. Now I was dressed in a suit just like them. It flashed through my mind at that instant that if I faltered my step they would have stopped me and I would have been in big trouble. So, I gave them a confident nod as I walked toward them and they just nodded back and I passed right by them. I proceeded to the corner at the Coffee Club, turned, walked right through Knox Ozone and out of the now cordened-off area and nodded to several uniformed Police Officers along the way – all who just nodded back and none challenged me.
The Clothes and confident stride had ‘introduced me’ as probably another plain clothed detective.
It was no different to Paul who need to capture the attention of the Centurian who had arrested him.
As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the commander, “May I say something to you?” “Do you speak Greek?” he replied.
“Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?” Paul answered, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people.” Acts 21:37-39
Paul ,metophorically speaking, ‘dressed’ himself in respectability to gain the permission to speak to the crowd. And then he proceeded to do the same to the crowd.
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Acts 22:2
There was Paul, dressed in respectability – he sure was introduced to the crowd.
But as we can see, the crowd listened intently to him until he broke their illusion of what they thought was respectability.
“Then the Lord said to me, “Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'” The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!” Act 22:21,22
What a mistake. Isn’t it amazing the assumptions we humans make of one another. Maybe we should consider it foolishness to make such quick or rash decisions on whether we accept a person, or not, based purely on the way they dress or are introduced. e.g. He’s in a suit, must be respected; He’s in wornout dirty jeans, don’t give him the time of day. He’s a Doctor, “Hi!” or he’s a garbage collector, “Um..”.
Jesus says to us,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Joh 13:34,35
As disciples, we must be “loving on the outside” to introduce us and “loving on the inside” – that makes the man!
Prayer: Lord, help me to look past the outward appearance of a person and see them as You see them. Then help me to love them as You love them. In Jesus Name I ask it. Amen.