Back when I was a college student I believe I possessed a fairly well developed sense of style. I was certainly no clothes horse. However, whether motivated by trying to fit in with my peers or perhaps hoping to look appealing to young ladies, I was always careful to dress in a way that was tasteful and in fashion.
I no longer possess any such sense of style.
Some time ago, while watching a football game on television, I was captivated by the way the halftime announcers were dressed. One had mixed polka dots with plaid. Another was wearing a gray suit that looked as if it had been tailored for his little brother. And worse, he was wearing brown shoes. Brown shoes with a gray suit! To my outdated fashion sense acquired early in the Ronald Reagan 1980’s, there could not be a more egregious fashion faux pas. The colors clashed. They simply did not match.
Of course, styles change and tastes vary. What matches in clothing and colors differs between cultures and over decades.
I Peter 1:6 speaks of “manifold temptations.” The word translated “manifold” means diverse, or variegated. The original Greek word, poikilois, means literally, “many colored.” In ancient literature the word was used to describe an embroidered robe, the veins running through polished marble, or the skin of leopard. In referring to “many colored temptations,” Peter reminds us that there is no single variety of suffering. In a figurative sense, trials appear in many shades and hues. In our lives we experience a broad color spectrum of difficulties. Have you ever been tempted to be green with envy? Our hearts are stained at times with the red of sinful passions such as wrath or lust. The azure blue of depression and despondency is very familiar to many. There is the dull gray of doubt. There is the stark black of grief.
You may have never realized it, but the Bible tells of something that always matches perfectly. I Peter 1:6 speaks of “manifold temptations.” The word translated “manifold” means diverse, or variegated. The original Greek word, poikilois, means literally, “many colored.” In ancient literature the word was used to describe an embroidered robe, the veins running through polished marble, or the skin of leopard. In referring to “many colored temptations,” Peter reminds us that there is no single variety of suffering. In a figurative sense, trials appear in many shades and hues.
The word “manifold” or “many colored” appears a second time in the apostle’s first epistle. In this other instance it does not describe temptations. I Peter 4:10 speaks of “the manifold grace of God.” Like temptation, God’s grace is not all one variety. For every tone of trial; for every color of temptation, there is matching grace from God. Comfort, forgiveness, strength, guidance, peace – all this and more is in the endless spectrum of grace God provides to His people. One Bible commentator wrote, “There is no color in the human situation which the grace of God cannot match.” What encouragement for the suffering saint!
When my wife and I were considering painting our living room, we went to the hardware store to look at color samples. We wanted something that suited our taste, and that that matched our furniture and our carpet. The store’s display had catalogues and paint swatches that illustrated literally thousands of colors from which to choose. The clerk assured us that if we did not find the exact color we wanted, she had a computer program that enabled her produce or match any color we wished.
So it is with our Lord. He provides any color of grace necessary to match our trials, however rare or difficult.
In II Corinthians 12, when Paul prayed for help with suffering, God responded with the assurance, “My grace is sufficient for you.” God promised a matching color of grace for Paul’s trials. Whatever color of suffering you experience, be assured the Lord can provide matching grace for you as well. Whatever your problem, God’s grace is always the fashion.