What is modesty? This question is one that I have asked myself many times. Is modesty dressing to cover up? Is it something that is expected of us or is it something foreign to our day and age? Is it a set of rules about the clothes we wear? Or is it something much deeper? There is a lot of confusion about modesty and the way we should dress, but there are also answers.
I believe that modesty starts at the heart. So often we, as girls, think too much about our appearance. Everything is telling us that we need this outfit to be fashionable or that hair product to be beautiful and if we just use this kind of makeup we will become gorgeous. When these are the messages that we are hearing, it seems impossible to ever be content with what we wear and how we look. But God’s word sheds light on true beauty and how it can be achieved.
In 2Timothy 2:9-10, Paul expresses his desire that “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness-with good works.” Here are guidelines for us to live by.
First of all, we must dress respectably. Through our clothes, we show if we respect others and are willing to dress in a manner that is tidy and pleasant. In return, they will respect us for our decent dress and the courtesy we show.
We are called to dress with modesty. In the few definitions of modesty that I found, “humility”, “simplicity” and the “lowly temper which accompanies a moderate estimate of one’s own worth and importance” were all mentioned, as well as “purity of thought and manners”. I really like the way Encarta dictionary described modesty when it explains it as, “Humility: unwillingness to draw attention to your own achievements or abilities.” We must be humble if we are to be pleasing in our behaviour.
Paul also mentions self-control, as a necessary part of our dress. It takes a huge amount of self-control to be humble and respectable in the way we dress. Conquering our desire to wear that dress even if it is a little too low in the neck or to buy the pair of shoes that would prove our trendiness (and leave a large hole in our wallet), requires that we have self-control that the Spirit gives.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to look nice – we should dress nicely. The problem occurs when we think more about fashion than about faith. The trouble comes when we are more concerned about the way we look than the way we behave.
One of the most surprising things I discovered in Paul’s exhortation was how much it didn’t talk about clothes. We are not given instructions on how to dress, but the clear message of these verses is, “Ladies, dress decently, but please don’t think so much about what you look like, but about what your attitude and actions are like.”
The key to being modest is to not always worry about it. Sure we must think about the way we dress and especially the way it affects others, but I have come to realise that the more we fuss over our clothes and worry about that hemline being too high or that neckline too low, the more we become prideful. It is so easy to rate people by our “modesty standards” and when that happens we fall into the dangerous trap of pride.
True beauty comes when the only Being we are striving to please with our fashion taste is God. When we are performing for the audience of One, we will not worry about whether others think of us as trendy or old-fashioned. When God is our ultimate Judge, it does not matter how people view us. When we are beautiful in our Creator’s eyes, the opinions of others cease to mean so much and we can be completely content in Him.
Do not let your adorning be external … but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. – 1 Peter 3:3-4
(This article was originally published in Volume1 Number3/Autumn 2008. You can request the entire issue in PDF on this page.)
Possibly sharing at: The Modest Mom, Mama Moments, The Art of Home-Making Monday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, Roses Of Inspiration, So Much At Home, A Wise Woman, Raising Homemakers, A Little R&R, Coffee and Conversation, Hearts for Home, Growing in Grace, Imparting Grace, SHINE Blog Hop, Grace and Truth, Fellowship Fridays, The Homemaking Party.