Biblical Modesty: It’s Not What You Think


(Photo: source )

Being a Christian in a materialistic world is difficult.  It is trying because everywhere we look there are new styles to be worn, new make-up to put on, new jewelry that we must have and the list goes on and on.  We want to be beautiful, we want to be noticed.  Some of us even work in industries where we are constantly slammed with materialism, whether it be at a boutique, a hair salon, or as a make-up or nail artist we are inundated with earthly-oriented things.  Is it wrong to work in these positions?  Let’s talk about a great biblical woman, Lydia.

Acts 16: 13-15 “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.  One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.  And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.”

Meet the peddler of purple, Lydia.  In Lydia’s time purple was the color of nobility, of royalty.  She was a seller of the finest cloth.  Her cliental were the wealthiest of the wealthy.  Christianity is unique because Christ accepts all kinds of people from all walks of life.  His followers were tax collectors, doctors, tent makers, ex-persecutors, centurions, and peddlers of purple.  Christ lets us immerse ourselves in all walks of society to spread his word.  Lydia could reach people in her chosen profession that some of the others would not encounter on a day to day basis.

This is our job, ladies.

Whether we are stay at home moms, college students, doctors, hair dressers, teachers, or secretaries we are to be a river of Jesus that flows through every crevice of our jobs.  We are how Jesus is spread to the lost.

I am not saying materialism is a good thing.  In fact, materialism is a focus on earthly-minded things and we are to be a heavenly-minded people.  So, how in a materialistic world do we set ourselves apart?

1 Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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.”

We are a people who are set apart, a people whose focus is so heavenly-minded that we are literally clothed with virtues.

Do we have to be plain Jane’s?  No.  Is it sinful to wear jewelry?  No.

If you are asking yourself these questions then you are missing the point.  As mature Christians in the faith we should be choosing not to adorn ourselves with fine jewelry and clothing, instead we should be adorning ourselves with a gentle spirit and an imperishable beauty that is the hidden person of the heart.

But I have to wear clothes.

You are right, but you are still missing the point.  How many times a day does someone say to you, “I love those (insert article of clothing or piece of jewelry), where did you get that?”

If our ultimate example is Jesus, let’s look at how he was described.  After all, he is the son of God, right?

Isaiah 53: 2-3

“For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Our ultimate example had nothing in his appearance that drew people to him.  Maybe that is why people from all walks of life felt it so easy to come to him.  The lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, the common people did not feel intimidated by this man.  This “common man” changed the world.  He healed the sick, he gave sight to the blind, he forgave sins.  He did not dress in the finest robes of purple, even though he could.

I am afraid we are like the people described at the beginning of Isaiah.  We are sick and cannot even see it.  We have so much that we are blinded by our things.  We read 1 Timothy and think it is talking about being modest.  We are missing the entire point.  We draw attention to ourselves daily because we are full of pride in ourselves.  We don’t want people to see Jesus.  We want to be seen.  We want to be beautiful.

In Isaiah 1:5-6 the writer describes a people like this:

“The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,”
We are sick.  The whole HEAD is sick.  The whole HEART is faint.  From the sole of the foot even to the head.  Wow.
If you read on you learn why and quite frankly they sound a lot like us:
Isaiah 2: 7-8
“Their land is filled with silver and gold,
and there is no end to their treasures;
their land is filled with horses,
and there is no end to their chariots.
Their land is filled with idols;
they bow down to the work of their hands,
to what their own fingers have made.”
Isaiah 3:16-24
“The Lord said:
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
and walk with outstretched necks,
glancing wantonly with their eyes,
mincing along as they go,
tinkling with their feet,
therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
the heads of the daughters of Zion,
and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.
In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets;the signet rings and nose rings; the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;
and instead of a belt, a rope;
and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;
and branding instead of beauty.”

When was the last time someone complimented you on your spirit, your gentleness, your kindness or patience?  I imagine it’s not as often as they compliment you on your flashy clothing and jewelry.

When was the last time instead of thinking days ahead on what we are going to wear for certain events we prepared our hearts?  When was the last time we spent hours preparing our quiet spirit?

Let’s change this.

Let’s be the light of Christ in the world.  Let’s be women not of fashion but of virtue.

1 Peter 2: 9-10 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.

1 Peter 5:5 “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Like Lydia, we are to be lights in this world.  Jesus does not want us to take ourselves out of the world, just to be separate, different.  A light in a room full of darkness is noticed, not because it is outside the dark room, but because it is inside the room, for all to see shining like a beacon for all to draw towards it.

John 17:15 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

Let’s stop giving people reasons to compliment us on our external appearance (it’s going to happen no matter what, I understand that), but let’s start giving them a reason to notice our Christ like hearts.

Let’s be virtuous women.

-Anna Maynard