Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. 1 Peter 3:3-4
Modesty is not just being covered in layers of garments but being covered in the grace of God.
Modesty is refusing to showcase my body in homage to self, but being set apart as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and living anew, as a testament to the God of Grace.
To dress modestly is freeing. I am no longer a slave to the approval of others and no longer in a conquest to outshine the next woman. My new found freedom means I can be comfortable in my skin and in my clothes. What may appear as restrictive is in fact a blessing to me, for when my shirt is not cut too low or my skirt is not too short, I live and walk freely. I am not self-conscious of my appearance and not fearful of attracting the wrong attention or comments.
Dressing modestly extends beyond a list of can and can’t dos. Surely there are things that are not appropriate for women who profess Christ to wear or do. However, my first reason for obedience in this area of my life is communion with God. I am set apart and as such I dress in a manner that honors the God who chose me and that reflect the obedience of a valued daughter.
On the same token, I have also learned not to bury my beauty. As a young woman I rebelled against the teaching of modesty from the older women who exhorted me to show less and wear more. I saw their reprimands as controlling and obstructive. I most certainly did not have a teachable spirit and it reflected. I thank God for spiritual growth. While my immaturity was a big part of my defiance, their approach did not help. The descriptions they gave of a godly woman always resulted in me wearing frumpy dresses and flip flops. It never seemed that they gave any consideration to fashion, and as a result I thought they were out of touch and simply irrelevant. They had a long list of can’t-dos with no alternatives. One error I now see in their approach was that it was legalistic. I don’t recall anyone discussing the joy, peace and freedom of embracing modesty with me. Not much was ever said about the ways I could continue to embrace my beauty and use it to honor The Lord. I craved that and when I did not think it was possible within the bounds of modesty, I rejected it altogether.
As we teach and admonish other women, particularly younger generations, we must be careful not to impose our own strict dress codes on them but rather to point them to the teachings of Scripture. One such example: Scripture is clear that women should dress modestly. However, nowhere in the Bible does it dictate that our skirts must reach past our knees. To make that the teaching of our individual homes is fine, but to stipulate to young women that godliness is defined as such is misleading and wrong. We must be clear when we offer guidelines to state it as such. We must also recognize when our principles are based on cultural beliefs, not Biblical mandates. When the lines are blurred and we use the Bible to teach what is not included therein, we run the risk of alienating our children, or shutting their minds to the teachings of Scriptures altogether.
How must we teach modesty then? The emphasis must be on the words of Scripture. We must teach our children to be discerning and heed to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It was freeing when I began to study the passages that referred to modesty for myself. For the first time I was realizing there was love in the language of the texts in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 2 Peter. There was grace and a call to embrace beauty, true beauty. I wanted to attract the right attention, God’s. I purged my closet a little at a time. I wish I could say it was easy to let go of the clothes I knew in my spirit were no longer fitting for me to wear, but it was not. For me, it was a slow process. I am glad to say that I have let go of it all now. I have been able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit strongly on this issue. I confess to facing temptation in this area occasionally. In those times, it helps for me to remember that I am equipped to fight and win this battle. I have the tools I need to please my Creator, whose image I bear.
If you struggle in this area as I have, be encouraged. Remain steadfast in the Word of God and make pleasing God the desire of your heart.
This concludes our first series of posts friends. I feel accomplished and excited. Yippee! To God be the glory!
If you missed the other posts in the series, go back and read them (pleaseeeeee).