It’s interesting to me how most Christians still don’t understand what modesty is all about. In fact, I’ve known some older Christian women – and men – who dress pretty “immodestly” (even at worship)!
If someone said, “I saw a woman who was dressed very immodestly,” most of us would assume that woman was wearing clothing that was – in some way – sexually provocative. While showing too much skin or wearing clothes that are too tight is certainly immodest, we fail to recognize that clothing can be immodest without being sexually provocative.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 (ESV) says,
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.
The word translated, “modesty” here is defined by Strong’s as, “a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect.”
Here’s another way to think about the word: When you say to someone, “You are so amazing” and they disagree with you, you might respond, “Oh, come on now, you’re just being modest.” That is probably the context in which this word is best understood. Modesty says, “I don’t want attention. I’m embarrassed by compliments. Please look away from me. I’m not worthy of your admiration.” That is modesty!
Attention Drawing Attire
Every Christian should live with the desire not to draw attention to themselves. But many times, our clothing choices are immodest because that’s exactly what we’re trying to do – draw attention to ourselves. Paul mentions, braided hair, gold, pearls, and costly attire. But we really don’t get all up in arms about Christians who wear fancy clothes and jewelry; when that’s exactly the context in which Paul addresses modesty!
Now, I’m not saying we should all dress in rags. But we do need to examine our hearts. The question is, what are your motives? Do your clothes serve a practical purpose – like covering up your body – or are you just trying to impress people? When you dress in flamboyant clothes, wear a lot of expensive jewelry, or spend lots of time on your makeup and hair – are you not being immodest? Are you not trying to draw attention to yourself?
A New Kind of Attire
Paul says the Christian woman’s attire should be “good works.” When Christians “clothe ourselves” in good works, God gets the attention! Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The world has ALWAYS told women they are obligated to look beautiful. Paul says, don’t get so caught up in dressing beautifully, but in living beautifully!
Immodesty is a pride issue. Immodest clothing can say, “Look at how much money I have,” or, “Look at how trendy I am,” or, “Look at how beautiful my body is.” That’s sinful pride! When a woman wears short shorts, she is communicating pride in her body. When a man goes without a shirt, he is communicating his pride in his physique. That is not the way Christians should conduct themselves!
When people dress provocatively, they may not even realize they are being – or intend to be – sexually provocative. They may simply be thinking to themselves, “I look good in this and I’m going to wear it.” But again, that is sinful pride! Whether you’re just showing off how good your body looks, trying to make people jealous that they don’t have your body, or trying to “turn on” members of the opposite sex – you’re being immodest!
Stop trying to be impressive and be faithful!
Christians must learn to be modest in the way we think of ourselves. The world screams, “Be proud of who you are and how you look!” And God says, “Stop looking at yourself and look at Me!” We are often so self-absorbed and our clothing often reflects that fact. It’s time for a change!
I love you and God loves you,