A few years ago, my goal in life was to fit in with the world. I didn’t want to look different or be dubbed “weird” by society. I fought against my parents’ wishes and desires for me … not always outwardly, but inwardly I very often resented the restrictions they placed upon me. Was I happy? No.
The Lord began working in my heart little by little. After months of cutting and pruning away the dross in my life, He brought me to the place where I purposed I was going to honor Him in every area of my life — no matter what. From that point forward, my life changed dramatically. No longer did my heart desire to follow the ways of the world. I wanted more than anything to please the Lord.
I spent much time in God’s Word and in prayer. In doing so, the Lord convicted me of my need to examine every area of my life and hold it up against the penetrating light of Scripture. I realized there were many areas of my life in which I was walking contrary to Scripture. One of those areas was the way I dressed.
About this time, I was listening to a Bible tape while vacuuming the house. As I ran the vacuum back and forth over the carpet, I heard a familiar phrase from 1 Timothy,
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing Godliness) with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
Although I had heard this passage numerous times before, I was struck with it in a new light. The phrase, “… that women adorn themselves in modest apparel …” kept ringing through my ears. In studying the original Greek meaning of this word, I found it meant, “orderly, decent, a citizen who is quiet in the land.”
Thus, I concluded that adorning ourselves in modest apparel would be apparel that does not draw great attention to one’s self. I am not saying we are to dress in black all the time (that could draw great attention to ourselves too, you know!), but that we not dress like we are going to a fashion show. Rather, we should dress in a quiet, neat and inconspicuous manner.
As Timothy Titcomb so poignantly expressed in his book, Titcomb’s Letters (©1858), “A woman was made for something higher than a convenient figure for displaying dry goods.” In reality, clothes are only a reminder of our sin (Genesis 3), so we don’t have anything to be proud about in wearing them.
On the flipside, I believe Christians are ambassadors of the Most High King to the world. Would you expect someone who represented the highest-ranking official of a country to come dressed as a ragged pauper? No, they would be dressed in a neat, orderly and professional manner. In the same way, our outward appearance is a reflection of Christ to the world.
I do not believe there is anything wrong or ungodly in taking the time to “beautify” ourselves in order to be a God-honoring representation of Christ to the world. But beautifying the outward appearance must never, ever become one’s focus or chief end in life. We must seek first the Kingdom of God … not seek first how we can become outwardly attractive. 1 Samuel 16:7 drives this point home:
… For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
We need to always cultivate first beautiful inner character before we seek to improve our outward man. God is much more concerned with the heart.
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Ask yourself, “Why am I wearing this? Does this outfit glorify God and honor my authority’s wishes for me?” If you do not know what pleases your authority, ASK THEM! You may be surprised to discover there are many things in your wardrobe that are not their first choice.
In further investigating the roots of the word “modest” I found it meant being sensible and self- controlled and voluntarily placing limits on one’s freedom. That hit me. How often, in all areas, am I pushing the limits of my freedom, instead of setting a higher standard so as not to be a stumbling block?
My wonderful husband, Jesse, told me after we started courting how much he appreciated the way that I dressed and how that actually was one thing that attracted him to me. He said he realized I was different, and he appreciated my willingness to stand alone. Then he looked at me and said, “Crystal, a girl can never dress too modestly.” I want to encourage you girls with that. You can actually earn a young man’s respect by your modesty.
I am not going to come out and condemn or condone any clothing in particular in this article. I don’t feel that God has called me to do that. Rather, I challenge you to question yourself, “Is the way that I am dressing in accordance with the Biblical mandate that women are to be adorned in modest apparel?”
We are so influenced by society in this day and age. We nonchalantly accept what our forefathers would have blatantly protested against as “wicked”. Let us not measure our lives by the world’s standards. Let us be willing to measure our lives by the standards set in God’s Word. If we do that, we will usually always come out all right. In eternity, we won’t regret it.