All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:5–6, NIV 1984).
“It is very foolish to shut one-self into any wardrobe. “―C.S. Lewis.
My Musings – A wardrobe is typically a tall cupboard or cabinet where one hangs their clothes. Quite common in days gone by, but not so much nowadays where closets keep getting bigger and bigger. A collection of clothes or costumes is also called a wardrobe. Thus, a wardrobe contains a wardrobe. Isn’t the English language fun?
A fairly famous advertising tagline asks, “what’s in your wallet?” A question we might ask ourselves is “what’s in our closet?” I work in an office when traditional business attire is still required. As a result, my “wardrobe” is full of suits. slacks, sportscoats, and dress shirts. All quite conservative, I might add. But when I ask “what’s in our closet?” I am not not talking about clothes.
Peter instructed us to “clothe [ourselves] with humility toward one another.” He was using methaphor to describe not just how we should appear on the outside, but who we are on the inside. Unfortunately, many of us clothe ourselves in such a way as to hide who we are underneath. “So what’s in your closet?” Does it contain a “wardrobe” that reveals who you are, or does it contain “costumes” to hide who you really are? Are you masquerading as something you are not.
Sometimes our costumes are so good at disguising the truth that we might even fool ourselves. We begin to think we are who we masquerade as? Then, we begin to see others as who we are under the disguise. “If you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?” (Romans 2:19–23, NIV 1984).
My brother, a Psychologist, would call this “projecting,” the process of displacing one’s feelings onto a different person. The term is most commonly used to describe defensive projection—attributing one’s own unacceptable urges, behavior or character, to another. In today’s highly charged society, Paul might add “you who call others racists, are you a racist? You who accuse others or hatred, do you hate? You who accuse others of bigotry, are you a bigot?” Unfortunately, as time marches on the list keeps getting longer and longer. “Methinks we doth project too much,” with apologies to Shakespeare.
To be fair, not all accusations are projections. But neither are all accusations fair. And sometimes, even when the accusation is fair, it is made with too much drama, vitriol, incivility. Rarely is an accusation made with the appropriate mix of righteous indignation.
My Advice – We would all do well, before accusing others, to take a long hard look in the mirror. Do we see there that we are accusing others of? What “wardrobe” have you shur yourself into? What is it covering up? It may well be worse than what we see in others. What really is in our closet? Does it need to be cleaned out?
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. (John 8:2–9, NIV 1984).
Now I do not mean to claim that those rightly accused should be lightly excused. Neither did Jesus. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:9–11, NIV 1984).
What’s in you closet? “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, [race] and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes.” (Revelation 7:9, NIV 1984). Much better look, don’t you think?
If you missed them, you might want to go back to my prior two-days’ musings on the Lion and on the Witch.