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I realize that the issue of modesty and clothing can be very controversial. It is an issue that is not completely lined out in scripture and yet, it affects who we are a great deal. I feel that it is a necessary issue to address. Each and every one of us has an opinion already before even heading into this discussion so, I advise to simply read the material and consider the matter. Please check your heart and listen to the Holy Spirit leading you. This article is not meant to be a list of dos and don’ts, but rather an expounding of my own personal convictions for you to consider. I hope that the following can be well communicated and I pray it can be received with a willing and obedient heart to God.
Before heading into the meat of this article, I would like to present a defining of terms for this particular context. I am sure that there are more exact words that would communicate this better, but for a lack of exact terms, here are my definitions of these, sometimes, arbitrary words. Notice the contrast between these two.
Clothing is an expected covering of your body that is designed for discretion, decency, and protection. It is clear when you cross these boundaries, because it is an outward appearance.
Modesty is a desire, which originates in the heart, to avoid indecency. More so than the amount of clothing, modesty is a purity of mind that is gracefully displayed outwardly, because it is no longer an expected requirement but an inward decision.
Based on the definitions above, I hope that each of us would desire to have a modest spirit and appearance. However, there are many views on what the boundaries are of modesty. How do we know what clothing is modest? Is there a standard for modesty? Let’s explore more about this issue to answer those questions.
The Heart Issue
The way you dress is an issue from your heart
As I hinted to in the definitions above, there is a direct correlation between our hearts and our bodies. Certainly, this is true of our words! Consider what Jesus, Himself, said…
“…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”Matthew 12:34 b
This next passage is very visual about the relationship between our hearts and bodies. Watch for the progression.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.Proverbs 4:23-27
According to that passage your heart affects your mouth, lips, eyes, and your feet. Basically, your head all the way down to your toes!
You have probably heard the phrase, “Follow your heart!”. Although it sounds innocent enough, it’s true meaning is misleading. The Bible states the following…
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”Jeremiah 17: 9-10
Biblically, mankind’s clothing was a failed attempt to hide our sin and openness before God. It was God’s plan for us to be covered, but not in our own ability. He used the skins of animals to cover Adam and Eve as a picture of salvation.
We are all born with a wicked heart that is open and filthy. However, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, He has covered you with His blood. You are made clean and whole! You have new desires placed inside you: desires that seek to please Him. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, here is an article that might answer some questions.
How does this affect modesty? Alright, modesty is mostly a heart issue. Modesty is more a heart issue than clothing. A Christian’s desire should be to become more like Christ everyday.
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”1 Peter 1:13-16
Striving for Christlikeness should be to glorify God alone. It cannot be for the show of men, because our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We will find our efforts in vain if it is to please men. However, we cannot throw out godliness altogether! We are called to be holy, not in our own strength or power, but by Christ’s.
We are to let our light shine for all to see (Matthew 5:16). It is a clear and beautiful testimony to see someone who goes contrary to the world to make a point for God. In words, dress, and actions you can stand out from the world! Christians shouldn’t look, sound, and act the same as non believers. We should be different in a good way. May Christ be seen in every aspect of our lives!
The way you view others comes from your heart.
When you meet a new person, it is natural to get an impression of that person from their clothes, mannerisms, actions, words, and looks. This is fine and almost impossible not to do. There is an element of the Holy Spirit leading, in some cases, warning to the character of an individual. Although, way too many times, based on looks, a person has assumptions that are not true. This happens no matter who you are. If you do not get your heart in check, your assumptions will go on, affecting your view of that person. Only with Christ in our heart and the Bible filtering our eyes, can we truly see people as God sees them. Don’t be deceived by outward appearances.