Room to Grow
“Dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires.” – Romans 13:14
As a boy, when I went shopping for clothes with my mother, she would always ask me to try on items that were about a size too large to fit me perfectly. If the jeans I tried on were a bit long, she considered them just right because they left me “room to grow.” Until I grew into them, I could fold the pant legs at the bottom—not much of a fashion statement, to be sure, but at least that way I wouldn’t need another pair of jeans quite so soon.
Wearing clothes that don’t fit perfectly can make you look and feel foolish at times, but it is also a statement to the world that you intend and expect to continue growing. It is not a fashion statement. It is an aspirational statement.
That is how I understand the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Romans: “Dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is asking the Romans to assume some of the qualities of Christ, to wear them as they would a new set of clothes.
That’s quite a charge. When I dress myself with Jesus, I can feel like that boy who is trying to wear an outfit that is at least a size too large. Not only do I feel awkward, I can even look a bit silly.
Then I remember my mother insisting that it is important to leave “room to grow.” What causes me to trip all over myself today allows for the possibility for growth. I put on Jesus as I would a new and ill-fitting outfit—in order that someday it might fit and be a fitting expression of whom I have become.
Thank you, Jesus, for leaving me room to grow. Now, please, provide the growth. Amen.
Martin B. Copenhaver is President of Andover Newton Theological School. His newest book is Room to Grow: Meditations on Trying to Live as a Christian.