Our world is wrecked. I don’t mean to sound like a pessimist or a Debbie-downer, but it’s true. This world is pretty messed up. It was created to be perfect, but because of sin, it’s not. The culture we live in is obsessed with many things. Beauty, youth, fame, money, and above most, sex. The world around us is obsessed with sex. I mean, commercials, TV, movies, billboards, the internet. It’s EVERYWHERE.
This brings me to a topic that is not always a fun conversation, but necessary for believers nonetheless: Modesty. What does it mean to be modest? To dress modestly? To live out this attitude in your everyday life? What I would like to show you is that modesty is not just about the way you dress. It’s not just about avoiding low-cut tops and making sure your shorts touch your fingertips. It’s so much more than that. This is a gospel issue. The way our culture sees the our lives and the way the Gospel affects us is at stake.
So the first and biggest question here is this: Why should we dress modestly? There are many answers I could give to this question but I think the most important reason is because we love Jesus. He is our very life. When we surrendered our hearts to Him, we surrendered everything. We gave Him the reins of our lives, calling Him “Lord” from that moment forward. He is our Lord, which means that we follow Him. He tells us what is right and what is wrong. And on this issue, he has clearly spoken.
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
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. 1 Peter 3:3-4
Our lives shouldn’t be about gaining the attention of others, but instead directing attention to Christ. It shouldn’t be about making much of ourselves, but instead making much of Him. And the way we dress should reflect this attitude of the heart. Instead, we are to adorn ourselves with good deeds and to actively seek godly character.
I truly believe that the heart of most immodest dress from Christian women stems from two things: selfishness and pride. In conversations about modesty, I’ve heard statements like “Well that’s his problem. He shouldn’t have lustful thoughts. He’s the one sinning, not me.” Or “If it’s a struggle, than just don’t look.” I’ve also heard excuses about different body types struggling to find modest clothes, girls just ”not thinking” about clothing choices, or even just feeling justified because “it looks good on me” or “that’s just what’s in style right now”.
But ultimately the roots of all these excuses can be found in selfishness and pride. It is completely selfish for us as women to wear whatever we want and expect our brothers in Christ to fight overwhelming temptation. By dressing immodestly we are leading them into sin and that in and of itself is sinful. We are called by Christ to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Deny ourselves. Our culture teaches us to find out what our hearts desire and to take it at all costs. But beloved, this is not the way. We are called to deny ourselves because of our love for Christ and the good of our brothers. And this is the only way that we will find satisfaction.
The other reason that we women can easily fall prey to immodest dress is simple pride. We like what looks good on us. We like the attention it brings. We like to be liked and to be envied. But beloved, this will lead to your destruction. God does not look kindly on the proud. He desires a heart that is humble, able to be taught, not thinking too highly of itself…modest, you could say.
So now I would just ask you to first evaluate your heart. Are selfishness and pride ruling your decisions instead of submission to Christ? Are you denying yourself and following Him or living for human approval and attention regardless of the cost to others? And then as God reveals these things to you, I would ask you to evaluate your wardrobe and ask these questions. Are there articles of clothing that I own that could be causing others to stumble? In getting dressed am I hoping to draw attention to myself or to be reflecting the beauty of the Gospel?
I do not at all want to imply that there will not be sacrifices involved in living a life of modesty. It’s just plain hard sometimes! There are cute and stylish clothes that are not appropriate. There are flattering but revealing swimsuits that should not be worn. There is sacrifice involved. But hear this: It is worth it. You are honoring the Lord by laying down your life on His alter and saying, “Not my way, but Yours” even in my clothing. But what better reason to sacrifice than for the One that did not spare His own Son but gave Him up so that could be saved?
As daughters of the King, we are a light in an ever-increasingly dark world. Sisters, live in the light. Instead of taking our cues from this culture, let us look to the Lord, the creator of beauty and the sustainer of our souls. And as we find out what pleases Him, we will find true beauty, a heart that looks like His.
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