You were taught with regard to the former way of life to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
For centuries the aristocracy of Europe showed off their wealth in pretentious ways. Not only did they live in mansions and travel in ornate coaches, but upper-class women spent lavish amounts of money to have small dogs bred. They were referred to as “lap dogs” and became as much a part of the fashion of the day as the expensive gowns worn by the elite. Over time, it became a trademark of the wealthy for a woman to have her portrait painted with a little dog nestled in her lap. Cynical observers took notice of this practice and coined the phrase, “putting on the dog”—a phrase meaning ostentatious activity by someone who is attempting to show off his/her wealth or position in society.
Unfortunately, this same principle is carried over into our churches. Consider these examples: faking a pious attitude when our hearts are far from sincere; flaunting our clothing or accessories in an unseemly way; or using spiritual vocabulary to make people think better of us than we deserve. Pretentiousness takes many different forms, and we all struggle with it in our lives. Frankly, it’s a lot more comfortable to put on the dog than it is to expose who we really are.
While everyone else might be fooled into thinking that we have it all fluffed up and under control, God sees past the makeup, the expensive suit, and the bleached smile. God sees our hearts and knows exactly who we are. God sees past the gimmicks and the props. So, let’s stop putting on the dog and get real. Develop the habit of genuine, transparent conversation. Let’s admit to one another our failures and ask for prayer for specific needs. Let’s make the church a place without pretense and show. Instead, let there be honest expressions of both praise and pain—needs as well as niceties.