“Likewise I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.”
-1 Timothy 2:9-10
This simple little scripture certainly covers a lot of ground if we look at it closely. It especially becomes clearer when we consider the dictionary definitions of some of the key words that Paul uses. How many of us can say we are really living up to the light of this passage in 1 Timothy? The purpose of this article is to put a searchlight on our hearts and our motives for the way we choose to dress- and why. This is a subject that is greatly talked about both in Christian circles and in the world- “my dress my choice.” It is a very delicate subject… but that’s all the more reason to talk about it openly and honestly.
Modest- having a regard for decencies for behavior or dress; quiet and humble in appearance, style, etc.; not displaying one’s body; not boastful or vain; unassuming; virtuous; shy or reserved; chaste.
Proper- specially adapted or suitable; appropriate; conforming to an accepted standard; correct; fitting; right; decent.
Discreet– lacking ostentation or pretension; “showing good judgment”; prudent; cautious; careful about what one says or does.
ARE YOU MAKING A CLAIM TO GODLINESS?
Essentially, the scripture in 1 Timothy says that it’s alright to dress however you want unless you are making a claim to godliness. In that case, the way you dress (along with the rest of your life) must be subject to the guidelines of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are precious because they are a gift from God. They are attractive because God made us in his image for His pleasure. God never intended us to flaunt ourselves or exhibit our bodies in an immodest way. He wants our bodies consecrated to him. We can see this in Romans 12:1:
“I urge you therefore brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
It surely must grieve the Lord to see the thoughtless way so many “modern” Christians dress. It’s true that their bodies may be a living sacrifice- but to which god?
TRANSFORMED NOT CONFORMED
The following is a passage I came along during my reading that I thought I should share for I found it very insightful. It is an excerpt from an article written by Melody Green– the president of Last Days Ministries:
It might seem to many of us that modesty is a thing of the past. I know before I became a Christian I didn’t have the slightest idea of what it meant to dress properly. Looking back it’s hard to believe I even left the house in some of the things I used to wear (and not wear!), let alone that I wore them without a blush! (Jeremiah 6:15)
The Bible in very clear terms tells us not to be conformed to the world, but instead, to be transformed. (Romans 12:2). Webster’s dictionary tells us that to be transformed means a change of outward appearance or inner nature. I guess that’s why it amazes me to see young Christian girls (and even more mature women) in church or at outdoor gatherings, hands uplifted in praise to God, while dressed in clothes that do not definitely give Him the glory.
In the summertime (HOT SEASON) especially, we have our biggest opportunity to test our consecration to Jesus. Sheer blouses, halter-tops, “short” shorts, crop-tops and skimpy bathing-suits are the norm for many careless Christian women. They use the rationalization that “it’s hot” or “I’m swimming” to excuse their lack of modesty. Clothes that fit too tightly, tops that are cut too low, and skirts that are cut too short are not only a distraction to those around us- but the wearers show an unloving lack of concern for the responsibility as a representative of Jesus.
Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are lost in their own selfish little world- either oblivious or uncaring about the affect they have on others. They may even appear to have a real excitement and love for the Lord- however, their body is sending out a totally different message. I know, because as I said before, I have done it- partly in ignorance, but mostly in rebellion. I can remember thinking, “Well, it’s not my fault if they can’t keep their eyes off of me and on the Lord. They just aren’t spiritual enough. Why should I have to change just because they are weak?”(Romans 15:1)
But the Lord showed me that it was my fault. I was responsible for causing my brother to stumble and it had to change (Rm 14:13). Once I really saw the damage my selfishness was doing to others and to the Lord, I was really ashamed of myself and embarrassed that I had been representing Jesus in such an unbecoming way.
“It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung on his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.” (Luke 17:1-2)
THE FASHION QUEEN
Worldly dress is quite revealing. First and foremost it reveals a worldly heart. It also reveals wrong priorities and areas that are not yielded to God. Being dressed in a worldly manner does not always mean that you are dressed immodestly. It may simply mean that your style is flashy or overdone- generally speaking, just “too much.” If your perfume arrives at church five minutes before you do, who are you trying to kid? Did you put it on for Jesus? If you are drawing attention from yourself, then you are drawing attention away from God and stealing His glory.
Here are some simple questions. Are you considered a trendsetter- usually the first to buy the latest style? Do you spend a lot of time and money shopping for new clothes? Are you always thinking about what you’re going to wear? Do heads turn to see your newest outfit- and do you enjoy turning heads? If you can answer yes to even one of those questions, it’s quite possible you are seeking a man’s attention instead of God’s. As a famous evangelist once said, “Be honest about it, would you take all this pain about your looks if every person were blind?”
THE FASHION KING
Modesty is an issue that men should consider as well. I would also like to include a brief word to the fellows in this article, for you are not always exempt from the sin of vanity and the desire to be noticed. Sadly enough, I have seen many of my Christian brothers drawing attention to themselves by wearing immodestly tight clothing and looking “just like the world.” Many thoughtless Christian men unbutton their shirts halfway down their chest, surround themselves in a potent cloud of aftershave- and really don’t care that they may be causing others to take their eyes off of Jesus. You too must be sensitive to others and give the Holy Spirit control of your life. You are responsible to surrender this whole area to Jesus and make sure that you are not causing those around you to stumble and fall.
PERFUME, POWDER, AND PRAYER (A CHALLENGE)
The world teaches us that in order to be loved we must be beautiful, sensual, and alluring. We are assaulted daily by billboards, books, television programs, movies, advertisements and magazines that teach us “a different gospel.” Sure, everyone wants to be loved… but why and by whom? All that is supposed to change when we meet Jesus.
God tells us to redeem time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16), but may will spend more time in the morning preparing their “outward selves” than they do preparing themselves inwardly for the warfare of the day by seeking God in prayer and His word. Sometimes we can spend so much time fixing up the outer man that the Spirit inside shrivels up and dies.
I want to present my brothers and sisters in the Lord with a challenge. Measure the time you spend “fixing yourself up” on a daily basis. Then give at least equal time to God in prayer and Bible reading every day. We all know he deserves so much more, but if you start there, you can let it grow as you do.
I think we will all agree that God is most concerned with the inner man… the heart. But I don’t think we can say, “Well, I may look worldly, but Jesus knows in my heart I’m not.” It is true that Jesus knows our heart, but I believe in most instances our outward appearance reflects our inward condition.
End of quote…
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
I believe that the subject of modesty goes far beyond how and why we dress the way we do. It goes deeper than what is considered modest and what is not. It is a matter that stems from the heart and greatly has to do with the walk of purity in our lives. If we desire purity, we have to fight for it. This means adjusting our attitudes and changing our lifestyles. In the book Worldliness: Resisting the seduction of a Fallen World, C.J Mahaney states that: “modesty is humility expressed in dressing.”
It boils down to a humility issue when it comes to dressing. Are you humble enough to admit that your dressing can make others stumble, or is your pride transfixed on your liberties and rights? A woman is a beautiful creature when covered up. The men around you may say things that will make you blush when you wear that low-cut blouse, but believe me, they would not want you for a wife; they only see you as a trophy.
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”
Lust is also not very far when it comes to immodesty. In the book Lust and the City, Ernest Wamboye states that: women who are overtaken by lust use their dressing to manipulate men. They are under the power of lust. Lust promises them power and authority over men. Do you use your dressing in order to get men to do what you want? Maybe you want to feel in control by using your dressing because you want heads to turn and you want men to be all over you and at your beck and call. If you use your sexuality (through your words, your body, your dressing, your hints etc.) to lead on a man so you can feel a sense of power over him, you qualify to be an adulteress. Maybe knowing you are wanted, desired and pursued gives you a kick of a feeling. It makes you feel great and feel a sense of power. The Bible calls such a woman an adulteress and it warns the Christian man to stay away from her because she is under the influence of lust (Proverbs: 6:20-7:1-27).
MAKE THE PURITY OF OTHERS A PRIORITY
As we pursue purity we need to think of one another as the body of Christ as we “consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) and this includes how we dress; considering our brothers and sisters and making their purity our priority. We all (both gents and ladies) have a role to play when it comes to purity and this pursuit would be so much easier if we make the decision to die to self and put on humility knowing that we are also responsible for our brothers’ and sisters’ purity through the way we dress. We are our brother’s keeper. This means that we should look out for each other and if you see that your brother or sister is immodestly dressed, don’t judge them but kindly correct them in love and gentleness. One of the best ways to maintain a pure life is to watch out for the purity of others. It’s time to start seeing other people’s purity as our priority.
True beauty is Jesus and Him alone. Letting that love flow through us to others is the beauty that is pleasing to God. Paul says we are to adorn ourselves with good works… as servants of the Lord, vessels through which others can feel His touch on their lives why would we want to substitute the world’s counterfeit with the real thing?
True beauty radiates from the face of a godly man or woman. You won’t notice much what they really look like because you are too busy noticing Jesus in them. Shouldn’t that be our goal? Let’s allow Jesus to so fully indwell in us that we would never do or say anything that would bring shame to His name… yielding our whole lives to Him and serving Him in the inner courts of His Holiness. Let’s not forget that we are His Bride-and so dress accordingly as we fully divorce ourselves from the world and clothe ourselves with the righteousness of God! (Isaiah 61:10).
May God bless you as you seek Him about what all this might mean to you personally? Please take the whole matter to heart (and prayer) and then be obedient to change the things in your life that that you find are displeasing to God.
“Give unto the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
(1 Corinthians 16:29)