Dressed for success
In reading about Joseph, a story I’ve read before, heard a lot about, and have even watched a movie on, it was fun to see what jumped out this time. We all know Joseph for his coat of many colors. It was given to him by his father Jacob, because Jacob loved Joseph dearly. It was an outward sign of his father’s favor.
But that robe would later be a sign of his brother’s treachery, as they take his robe and give it to Jacob indicating Joseph had been killed by an animal. Joseph goes from being loved in his father’s house, to being stripped of his fine clothes, sold into slavery, and he ends up working in Potiphar’s house.
But God was still with him as he prospered in all he did and found favor in Potiphar’s eyes. Unfortunately again Joseph’s dress was used in a plot for his harm. After rejecting advances from Potiphar’s wife and in the process leaving his cloak behind as he fled, Potiphar’s wife takes out her anger against Joseph by presenting the cloak as though it were proof of his misdeeds.
Joseph is again upended and goes to prison, where again he prospers and finds favor with those around him. Joseph ends up, through the work of God in giving him interpretations of dreams, leaving prison to be the highest ranking man in Egypt, except for Pharaoh himself. He had been robbed of his life by his brothers when they stripped him of his robe, but now he is restored by Pharaoh who, in chapter 41, “took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.” Again we have an outward sign of Joseph’s status. He is dressed in such a way by Pharaoh for he is valued and given great responsibility in the land.
We see clothing play a part in another story that will be read in the coming weeks from Luke. The prodigal son leaves his father’s house and upon his long-awaited return is dressed in a ring and given shoes and the household is told to make preparation for a great celebration. The clothing signifies the father’s joy and acceptance of his son.
We might not give such thought to how we are dressed or how we see others dressed, but how we are clothed matters greatly in another sense. In 1 Peter 5 we are told to clothe ourselves not in literal attire, but in humility, for God opposes the proud. The dress of a Christian is to have certain characteristics like humility, but none as important as what we see in Romans 13:14. In the NIV is says:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…
Whatever status is afforded to us by the way that we dress in this life cannot compare to the status that comes by our being clothed with Christ. Our clothes represent much of who we are when we are clothed in him. For when that is the case, we who are sinners gain instead the appearance of Christ’s righteousness. When our God sees us, he does not see our sin, instead he sees the perfection of his Son.
As we close out Genesis and John, the contrast is clear. So many figures of old are just ordinary like you and me. The only extraordinary one is seen in the gospels, and that is Jesus Christ. We do not boast in Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, nor can we boast in ourselves. We only boast in Christ. If not for our being clothed in him, boasting in his appearance, we would be nothing.