Wear your heart on your sleeve — it’s an expression we hear often, but with a complex meaning: to show your emotions, to be vulnerable, sometimes too much so, but also be bold. Is this really something we commonly do? As Christians, do we wear our hearts on our sleeve? Do we expose ourselves and allow others to feel our pain when we hurt? To feel our joy when we rejoice? To mourn openly and receive that comforting arm around the shoulders? As Christians, do we wear Christ’s heart on our sleeve? His heart that wept for the hurting and the lost. The heart of the Father that cares so deeply for you, for I and for all of humanity that he would send His only Son to bear the weight of the world on His shoulders, endure the most tortuous circumstances imaginable, die and rise again to preserve a relationship between the Creator and the created. Do we wear this heart for others on our sleeve? Does our clothing and our behavior match what we profess to champion? So often Christian Apparel can be filled with vaguely funny images, or trendy references, or even just vacuous writing alluding to a pastime I, the wearer, don’t actually pursue. Do I play rugby? No. Do I have a ‘rugby style’ shirt that doesn’t say much about me? I absolutely do. In fact, I have three of those and wear them rather unconvincingly about town feeling tougher than I ought to. But I digress. I also have apparel filled with Scripture that often starts conversations–and these are my favorites–not only because they encourage me to be bold in living out my faith, but because it strikes true to who I really am, rather than being a generic design meant to sell well.
At Slingshot Christian Products we are passionate about many things. We enjoy the funny quip and the humorous anecdote. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. We also are passionate about the gospel and understanding our Father God, the Creator of Heaven and earth. We believe that this is an enjoyable pursuit, not a somber one. This is a pursuit that opens our eyes to see His glory and wonder in ways we could not anticipate! Why not put the two together? Why not be thought provoking and light-hearted all at the same time? Sometimes we are so persistently serious that we lose the joy of His salvation that David spoke of in Psalms. And remember for a minute when he wrote that verse! He wrote:
10Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
- Psalm 51:10-12
Do you remember why? This was moments after Nathan the prophet came to him and rebuked him for his adultery with Bathsheba and his murderous acts towards Uriah. This was not in the midst of his rejoicing moments. This is David, with his heart on his sleeve, crying out to God for mercy. The first line of his Psalm is “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.” (Psalm 51:1) This was arguably the hardest moment of David’s life. This lesson cost David a child. He had spears thrown at him, a giant try to kill him, his King attempt to hunt him down in the wilderness to kill him, outcast and rejected. But I imagine this was the hardest of them all. This was more introspective than every lesson he had encountered because this was as close and as personal as it could get. In a season of supreme selfishness, the King took life and love from those who were not offering it. He stole away something that was not his to take. And in the moment of rebuke, in the time of reflection his prayer is ‘Restore to me the joy of your salvation.’ I’ve often wondered why that is. I wonder if it is because he recognized that he had lost that joy long before the treachery was committed. Maybe it was lost before he was ever on that roof, gazing out across his lands, across his cities. Maybe it was even before he decided to stay home during the times “when the kings go off to war” (1 Sam. 11:1). Maybe his joy had been lost for a long time and in this moment it all came flooding back to him. The story of how he ended up a king in the first place. The numerous times that God had been his salvation and had been his sustenance.
Maybe in those moments following the prophet Nathan’s visit David remembered how to wear his heart on his sleeve. He remembered that doing life together, alongside your brother, alongside your friend and confidant is far more safe than alone on a roof. Maybe David remembered that some levity in a situation brings blessing.
We have a piece of apparel that I enjoy that shows a little shrimp and has the words “Don’t be shellfish” on it. It references James 3:14 that says; “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.” There are some good reminders in there. Selfish ambition costs us dearly, many times much more than we are willing to pay. Do not harbor these things in your heart. Instead, wear your heart on your sleeve. This is where those who love and care for you can see it and be the one to pull you out of your selfishness before it costs you.
So I challenge you, wear your heart on your sleeve. Doesn’t it make you more true to yourself, if you find a shirt you love that also expresses Christ’s love, and God’s power in your life? It’s incredible to see individuals who carry themselves well in what they wear because they love it.