Relationships & Garments

What does garments and our daily roles in life have in common with our relationships? Ray C. Stedman explains this below:

‘All of us are involved in certain roles in life. Most of us are citizens of this country, and that fact makes certain demands upon us. We act differently as a public citizen than we do in private at home. At home we have various roles. Some of us are fathers, some are mothers, some are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We relate to each other in different ways in these various roles. In our jobs some of us are carpenters, some are teachers, some are lawyers, some are housewives.

All these occupations make various demands on us. Oftentimes we associate particular garments with these roles.

Garments, therefore, as used in Scripture, are a beautiful symbol of our relationships with others — our friendships, our associations, our contacts with the ones with whom we have to do — and of the roles which we play in life, and the character and attitudes we bring to those associations, particularly as regards our behavior.

Now, what this Scripture (Leviticus 13:47-49) is teaching us is the possibility that this area of our life can be infected with leprous disease. Certain practices and attitudes, certain aspects of our relationships with one another can have spots in them which are dangerous. Certain practices or habits we may fall into with another person can be destructive.

A relationship may be beautiful except for one area, one attitude that we hold — perhaps some dangerous, lurking, hidden resentment that we bear toward an individual and which comes out in our relationship. God wants us to deal with these leprosies that appear in our relationships. He sets forth for us in this passage how to do it. They require the same sort of treatment as did leprosy in our individual lives. For instance, we read in Verse 50:

“And the priest shall examine the disease, and shut up that which has the disease for seven days; then he shall examine the disease on the seventh day.” (Leviticus 13:50-51 a RSV)

Notice that the same patient investigation is required as in the case of a spot in the individual himself. There is to be no hasty, impulsive judgment. How many times we offend this way! We see a person in a relationship with someone else and we are prone to be so critical and to leap to unwarranted conclusions. We don’t take time to examine the relationship awhile, to think it through, to investigate before we come to a judgment. On the other hand, how frequently we err in the opposite direction in our own relationships, because of our emotional involvement. We enjoy a relationship that we have with somebody so much that we are defensive if anybody questions anything about it. We don’t want to examine it and are immediately offended if anybody else does, and we won’t listen to them at all. But the Word of God calls for an investigation when something is brought to our attention which is possibly hurtful or dangerous in a relationship. It is to be shut up for seven days (the number of perfection). That is, it is to be examined until you understand it thoroughly and know what you’re doing. That is the first step.

Second, if the disease spreads, the garment must be destroyed, Verse 52:

“If the disease has spread in the garment, in warp or woof, or in the skin, whatever be the use of the skin, the disease is a malignant leprosy; it is unclean. And he shall burn the garment, whether diseased in warp or woof, woolen or linen, or anything of skin, for it is a malignant leprosy; it shall be burned in the fire.” (Leviticus-13:51 b-52 RSV)

If a relationship has something harmful about it which is beginning to spread to and infect others, or if it is taking over such great areas of our life and is getting us so involved that we neglect our responsibilities in our other relationships, then drastic action must be taken. We all know how this can come about. We can get inordinately tied up with someone so that they begin to occupy all our time, and other people with legitimate demands upon us are slighted. If this is the situation, the relationship is dangerous and needs to be ended. A garment infected in this way must be destroyed, must be burned. This passage teaches us that it is better that this be done than that our life become totally unbalanced.’

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Pr. Paddick van Zyl


Source: Ray C. Stedman Expository Studies via


Published by Coram Deo

Coram Deo means that which takes place in the presence of, or living before the face of, God. Worship, prayer, the Christian life being lived to God's glory...

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