Have you ever heard someone say, “Dressed to the nines”?
I first heard my mother say it when reflecting on a dress or outfit someone had worn for a special event. The colors were beautiful, and the style complemented her figure marvelously. Her hairstyle was magnificent, and her shoes matched her outfit exactly. She would finish her exclamations of appreciation by saying, “She was dressed to the nines!”
I picked up this saying and have said it many times regarding my admiration for someone’s appearance. Here’s the exact meaning and origin:
“To the nines” is an English idiom meaning “to perfection” or “to the highest degree.” In modern English usage, the phrase most commonly appears as “dressed to the nines” or “dressed up to the nines.”
It is truly wonderful to think of receiving words that denote perfection and the highest degree. However, some of us may never have that statement directed our way. In my experience, with life being so busy, I’m just happy my shoes match! I’m overjoyed when I find extra hairpins in my purse to catch those errant strands trailing down my back and reattach them to the glob of hair that’s supposed to look like a fan but looks more like a bird’s nest. (I think the pair of swallows following me around must totally agree with my hair assessment.) I’m thrilled my skirt and blouse at least somewhat match. Or, as I like to tell my girls, they are in the “same color family.” They roll their eyes, make the sound of a police siren, and say, “Pull over! The fashion police are here to give you a fashion ticket.” So, nope, I won’t be hearing “You’re dressed to the nines” anytime soon.
Galatians 5:22-23 says: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (KJV). I also like the New Living Translation: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
- Love (agape love) is God’s love for humanity, our love for God, and our brother or sister in Christ.
- Joy is cheerfulness, calm delight.
- Peace is rest; quietness.
- Longsuffering is fortitude: courage in pain or adversity.
- Gentleness is meekness (not weakness), humility, thankfulness toward God, and polite, restrained behavior toward others.
- Goodness is holiness, purity, and righteousness.
- Faith is persuasion, moral conviction, and reliance upon Christ for salvation and assurance.
- Meekness is humility.
- Temperance is self-control.
In the natural world, I sometimes go to the closet and look at the clothes hanging there. I am overwhelmed, not by how many clothes there are, but with questions like: “What should I wear? Does this top match that skirt? (My girls are shaking their heads and saying, “no.”) What shoes do I wear with that outfit? Should I wear a layered look and add a flyaway cardigan or sweater?”
Isaiah 61:10 says, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (KJV).
God has shown us the way of salvation. We have repented, been baptized in Jesus’ name, and filled with His Spirit. He has clothed us! We now wear the robe of righteousness. (Not our righteousness, but His righteousness.) Now that is what I call dressed!
And did I read two words in Isaiah 61:10 that are also part of the nine fruit of the Spirit? Yes, I did! Joy and righteousness (goodness).
In the natural, we may not arrive at perfection with our clothes; but spiritually, when we are clothed with salvation and have on the coat (robe) of righteousness, we step out in Jesus’ name. At that level of perfection—the highest degree, we are dressed to the nines!