NT Tuesday: Modesty
As I was writing last week’s blog and thinking of how we are to honor one another, I thought of the idea of biblical modesty. Now, one might ask “how are the two of these items related?” Truly the connection is obvious. If we are going to show preference to one another, than the first thing we should seek to do is point others to Jesus Christ and diligently avoid doing anything that would cause one another to stumble.
Let’s think on this for a few moments. (I know that a good percentage of the readers are going to be thinking “legalism alert”. Fret not, readers, fret not.)
Paul wrote in Titus 2:9 “…that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.” This verse is found in context with the glorious idea that the “Grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all people.” That thought continues with the idea that we are then taught to live righteously and holy anticipating the coming of the Lord Jesus. So, there is an expected form of behavior that results from our salvation – one might even argue that there is an expected way to dress (considering the connection between the verses).
Certainly, Paul thought that there was an acceptable way of dressing for women – “respectable attire, with modesty and self-controlled.” In fact, what he was really getting at is that a woman should be known for something else – not her appearance, not her clothes (whether fancy or plain), but rather “…with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works” (Titus 2:10.) In other words, one’s clothes should reflect one’s heart – a woman should be adorned with good works – showing her close relationship with her Lord.
All throughout the Bible, there are instances where clothing is seen as telegraphing a message.
Think of Tamar in Genesis 38:1-30. When she wanted to seduce Judah, she took off her widow’s clothes and she put on clothes that communicated to Judah that she was a prostitute. What she wore revealed what she was communicating or desiring. In contrast, the woman of virtue described in Proverbs 31:10-31, wears clothing that is strength and honor because of her character. Yes, she makes herself clothing that is of silk and purple, fine thing for the times, but she is known for much more than her clothing. You could say that she defines the clothing; the clothing does not define her.
Back in the New Testament, Peter starts out with talking about the inner person and proceeds to talk about the comparison of inner and outer. In fact, Peter goes on to say that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price and is something that should be worn by godly women and that holy women of old adorned themselves with such being in subjection to their own husbands. (Read 1 Peter 3:1-5).
It seems, doesn’t it, that in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, what we wear matters – it telegraphs a message, a message that begins in our heart. Yes, we can become legalistic in defining what we think modesty looks like, but we can also fail to be obedient to the Lord in all areas of our life by refusing to recognize that what we wear says something about our relationship with Him.
Until next week, fulfill your ministry!