Last year, my husband and I participated in an ugly sweater contest. He won. 😀 Not sure if it was because the sweater was that ugly or because so many people said it seemed scary. The truth? He borrowed it from our son, who proudly wore the sweater. And no. I’m not going to show you a picture. 😉
A quick Google search reveals over 20 million sites for the ugly sweater phenomenon.
I had to dig a little to find out what started this craziness. According to thoughtco.com, the ugly sweater concept began in the 1980s when situation comedies featured button-down cardigans in Christmas themes. To qualify as an ugly sweater, most people say the more dangly things, gaudy colors, and embellishments, the better.
Basically, most of these sweaters probably started as fashionable items. However, since styles change quickly, they fall out of favor. It’s truly one man’s idea of fashion versus another’s.
While we laugh at this fun new tradition, we all have ill-fitted (ugly) clothing we continue to wear.
Are you proudly wearing one of these ugly sweaters?
1. Pigpen, threadbare, and full of holes.
In Isaiah 64, God tells us our idea of righteous living dresses us in filthy rags. We think we’re dressed to the nines, but we look like a drunken bum and not fashionable or modest.
2. Worried and frayed.
Have the last couple of years rocked your sense of security? Do you struggle to make it to the end of the month or wonder whether God sees what you need? This passage in Matthew 6 tells us that God cares about everyday things. He’s got you, right down to the clothes you wear—time to quit fraying the hem.
3. Disobedient denial.
We come from a long line of truth-avoiders—all of us. In Genesis 3, when the first man and woman were probably a few days old, we see the first instance of disobedience, he said/she said, denial, and consequences. First, they disobeyed the one command not to do something—Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden. Simple, right? Guess not. They ate from it, by choice. They hid when they heard God, which is a sign both knew they’d disobeyed. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. But neither Adam nor Eve took responsibility for their actions. Note the result of their disobedience: “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Something died that day, and life was never the same—the consequences of this ugly sweater cost eternity.
4. Discontent and boredom.
King David, a man after God’s heart, a warrior, and zealous to follow God, got bored. And when he did, he became a murderer, adulterer, and liar. The man had everything he wanted or needed. Except David wandered around his castle not knowing what to do with himself when his army went off to war without him. And boredom is the perfect setup for sin’s ugliness to drape itself around our shoulders. While this ugly sweater should have been thrown off and never tried on, the scriptural account of David and God’s forgiveness brings hope to all.
5. Deceptive colors.
One of the hallmarks of an ugly sweater is gaudy colors. The problem with this definition is who decides what’s gaudy? In Romans 13, God tells us what He considers outlandish clothing: darkness of wild parties, drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, immoral living, quarreling, and jealousy. He encourages us to contrast this gaudiness with clothing ourselves in Jesus Christ. In another passage in 1 Peter 2, God describes what it’s like to be clothed in Christ—light, honorable, virtuous, respectful. A contrast in color schemes for sure.
God’s clothing never becomes an ugly sweater.
Ephesians 6 tells us how to dress God’s way. Each piece mentioned in Ephesians 6 has a specific purpose of protecting your vital organs from an enemy’s up-close-and-personal attack. And isn’t that what the enemy of our souls does?
- Sexual enticement
- Whispered lies about your true identity
- Tempt you to protect your ego at all costs
But God says His clothing allows you to stand strong and tall because you wear the
- Belt of truth—God is truth
- Body armor of God’s righteousness
- Shoes of God’s peace, the Good News about Jesus
- Shield of faith, you know God’s got you and all circumstances
- Helmet of salvation—you are covered by Jesus, your Redeemer, and Savior
Which type of clothing would you prefer?
When Dave and I visited several castles in Europe, we examined many armor pieces. Our guides taught us about the purposes of each piece. You and I may not put on a coat of mail every day, but maybe we should. God’s coat of armor that is. His armor provides strength, wisdom, joy, and peace.
As you attend your Christmas parties and giggle over the many ugly sweaters you see, think about how God’s clothing never goes out of style.
When we armor up, God promises that He’ll provide wisdom, strength, and righteousness. No longer are you and I dressed in filthy rags. We’re clothed like princesses because we are God’s daughters.
Not sure how to ditch your ugly sweater? Reach out for help. You aren’t meant to wear the filthy, threadbare rags the enemy wants to wrap around you because of your husband’s porn addiction. Shame and embarrassment aren’t your outer garment. God says you are His forever. He wants to exchange your gaudy fashions trying to hide your pain for His beauty, grace, and righteousness. You get to choose.