The Heart of Modesty

During a previous administration, there were signs posted on the doors at the White House in Washington D.C. listing inappropriate summer attire for work. On the list were shorts, halter tops, t-shirts, tennis shoes, flip flops sundresses, and strapless dresses. Most of these things will be seen in church on any given Sunday in summer.

That particular President set the tone for what was appropriate to wear to work. He wore a suit every day he was in the Oval Office and expected professional attire to be worn by his staff as well. He believed the setting demanded a certain level of respect. He was also meeting with the leaders of the world. 

The church also has standards for what is appropriate to wear when gathering to worship. Much of what is worn these days in public is immodest and far too revealing.  

There is something to be said for appropriate dress in specific circumstances. When going to a funeral most people wear something somber and dark in color to reflect their heart of sorrow (2 Sam. 3:31).  The attire at a wedding reflects a joyful heart as a celebration is underway. Many a woman would tell you that how she feels in the morning is what dictates her attire. How we feel is related to what a person thinks and believes about something.

What comprises the heart of modesty in a woman? Is the problem what she wears or is it the heart behind the selection? 

What we wear is a revelation of what is going on inside, in the inner man. Our thoughts, beliefs and desires take place in the inner man, what the Bible refers to as the heart.
  1. God looks at the heart. 1 Sam. 16:7
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

This means that what goes on inside is what God is most concerned with. 

We tend to think that a person who is well dressed in expensive clothes is blessed and well to do, and somehow spiritually superior to the person who is dressed in tattered, ill-fitting clothes. In fact the less polished person may be a spiritual giant and be living a life of sacrifice for the sake of others (James 2:1-5).

Conversely what a person wears can be a reflection of their spiritual life and condition. The scantily clad woman is revealing much about her heart. 

And behold, a woman comes to meet him, Dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. Proverbs 7:10 (NASB)

“You took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. “You also took your beautiful jewels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that you might play the harlot with them. “Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered My oil and My incense before them. Ezekiel 16:16-18 (NASB)

Clothing sends a non-verbal message about you. A woman who dresses in clothes that are too tight, skirts too short, tops to skimpy she is revealing an aspect of her character. It tells others who see you what you think about yourself and about your body. 

What many young women (and some older ones) see as comfortable, fashionable and chic are revealing heart attitudes and character flaws. Often I am amazed that women do not realize their clothing choices reveal a prideful or lustful heart and their desire to be noticed. 

The Corinthian church had a huge problem with women dressing in such an outrageous manner that it was disrupting the church services. So much so, that Paul addressed it in his letter to Timothy. 

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes” (1 Timothy 2:9 (NIV)

And Peter also encountered this same problem among the converted Jewish women.

Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 1 Peter 3:3 (NASB)

Your clothes should not be distracting to those who have gathered to worship. 

I have been in church services over the years where a young woman has distracted the preacher as he was delivering his sermon as she walked to the back of the auditorium. It is inappropriate to wear short skirts and plunging necklines to worship. 

Church is a place that requires a certain level of reverence and respect. To determine to do otherwise out of a spirit of "wearing what I please" is an indication of a prideful and idolatrous heart. When you go to church for corporate worship you are not there to please yourself, you are coming into the presence of God with fellow Christians for the purpose of singing praises to God, and learning from His Word- for the purpose of worship. 

Think about these things women of God, and determine to worship Him in your heart first and let your clothing be a reflection of the Christ-life within you!