Modesty - Does It Matter What You Wear?
Have any of you ever felt judged for what you’re wearing or judged someone else for what they’re wearing?
If you answered yes… me too.
I’ve caught myself in times past judging other girls “Christianity” based on the outfit they were wearing and I’ve also been the victim of this same type of judgment. Modesty is a word that’s tossed around as a definition of the way a Christian girl should dress – but does anyone actually know what modesty is?
To be honest, I’ve always been confused about what modesty is because it has seemed to me everyone has their own definition of the word. Almost every time I’ve heard the word it’s in reference to the way someone dresses and no one seems to be able to explain an exact meaning of it.
If you ask me, it seems like modesty is a word that has often been used as a cover up for personal opinions on what people should and shouldn’t wear. From everything I’ve read, when Jesus was on earth He cared less about what people looked like and more about what their hearts looked like, so why were people using this word to determine what we should and shouldn’t wear?
Well this question prompted me to look at the Bible myself and try to figure out what exactly modesty is. The truth is, the answer I found was something I didn’t expect and I want to share it with all of you because it gave me an entirely new perspective on this confusing word.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 is one of the places in the Bible where we see the word modesty:
“in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness with good works.”
This particular portion of scripture in Timothy is addressing women and men in the church. Apparently, at this time, women were trying to use their looks to gain respect, instead of gaining respect based on their character. See, this warning to be modest wasn’t in regards to the length of these women’s skirts, whether they wore a one or two piece swimsuit, or if they dressed “the way a Christian should”. This instruction to be modest was actually the exact opposite, telling these women that they were to stop concerning themselves with how they looked and start concerning themselves with how their hearts looked.
The word modest wasn’t a definition of dressing; it was a definition of being respectable.
Another verse in the Bible that speaks on modesty is 1 Peter 3:1-5 where Peter tells women to dedicate themselves to their husbands by showing good character and a beautiful inner self, instead of using words and appearance. In this spot, Peter once again reinforces the importance of focusing on being beautiful inside instead of outside. Similarly, 1 Timothy 3:2 lists the qualities given to be an overseer, one of these being “of good behavior” which is translated as “respectable” or modest. Modesty is so often used by Christians today as a word to define how a woman should present herself, yet, this spot in the Bible calls for men, just as women, to be modest in character.
In all of these verses, the same message continues to run through - it matters more how someone looks on the insides than the outsides.
So, if you feel convicted that you shouldn’t wear a two piece bathing suit, you prefer to wear skirts over pants, or you don’t think you should wear jewelry and have your hair styled, that’s your choice. But similarly, if you feel no conviction against the things above, then that’s your choice. It is not our jobs as Christians to set rules or to judge others for the way they dress and what they look like. Our jobs as Christians are to glorify God and love others.
So yes, you should be modest.
You’re modesty should prompt you not to find your worth, your identity, or attention from others based on how you look. Instead, when you live with modesty, you will care more about your character, living with humbleness, love, truth, and kindness, than how you look. Modesty is not choosing the outfit that will bring you the most attention, you the most approval, and you the most compliments. Modesty is literally putting on Christ each day and having a humble, loving character that reflects that.
Modesty is not the way you dress.
Modesty is the way you live for Jesus.
So I challenge you from here on out to live with true modesty, having less concern about how you look and more concern about how your heart looks.