Modesty for the Glory of God and the Good of our Neighbor - 1 Tim 2:9-10

“…likewise also 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.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Beloved,

We should always seek the good of our neighbor. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 10:24, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” I hope to give one practical way women can seek the good of their neighbors. The summer months brings warmer weather and with it a change in wardrobe. I think it would be appropriate to stop and mediate on what our dress reveals about our love for God and neighbor.

Before I unpack the heart of our wardrobe, I think it is wise to say a word about legalism. Unfortunately, churches often have created a set of standards in dress that the Bible does not affirm. Instead of doing the hard work of analyzing and teaching about the heart of dress, rules are created to enforce standards that lie outside of biblical warrant. In response to this legalism, many people have swung the pendulum to the other end and bristle with the thought of anyone telling them how to dress. So as I write to the people I love, please know I am writing with a heart to serve, love and to seek your good for God’s glory.

CJ Mahaney says that, “Any biblical discussion of modesty begins by addressing the heart, not the hemline.” Through the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul says that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Modesty is defined as: propriety; the avoidance of clothing and adornment that is extravagant, showy, and sexually enticing.” Self-control is defined as: restraint, moderation for the purpose of purity. Modesty and self-control are controlled by the heart. Ladies, you must know that whether you realize it or not, your clothes say something about you. They reveal the heart. And as Christian women, you want your attire to reveal your heart and love for God. As all Christians are called to be distinct or set apart from the world, our dress is just way we can show this distinction. Nicole Whitcare wisely comments on the above verses:

What Paul is condemning is not attractive attire, but the association with worldly and ungodly values. Women, who profess godliness, he says, should not dress in such a way that resembles those who are extravagant, or worse, intent on being seductive or sexy. Simply put, we are not to identify with our sinful, worldly culture through our dress.[1]

So modesty is a way we can show our love for the Savior. It is also a way you can seek the good of your brothers in Christ. We live in a fallen world and men are sinners. Modesty helps to protect purity of the mind and heart of your brothers. Scottish Pastor Richard Baxter wrote 400 years ago:

“And though it be their sin and vanity that is the cause [of lust], it is nevertheless your sin to be the unnecessary occasion…You must not lay a stumbling-block in their way, nor blow up the fire of their lust…You must walk among sinful persons as you would do with a candle among straw or gunpowder; or else you may see the flame which you did not foresee, when it is too late to quench it.”

Seek the good of your brothers by walking with in your dress that protects them from temptation.

It can be uncomfortable talking about dress, but it is a necessary conversation for the church in the 21st century. We need to train up a generation of young women who want to honor God in all things including their dress. I have included the link to the“Modesty Heart Check” to be used as a guide in analyzing your own heart and to help train our daughters and granddaughters in revealing a heart of modesty. Regardless if you believe this applies to you, I would encourage you to ask your husband and/or a trusted friend if your dress reveals a modest heart.

My prayer is that you will worship God with your whole heart and life. Pastor John MacArthur writes, “A woman who focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.” So let us grow in our worship of God so whether we eat or drink (or dress) we do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

(A similar article I wrote for the newspaper can be found here)

Steven Brazzell

Charlotte, NC