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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Modesty: A Backwards Approach

Modesty—(noun) The quality or state of being modest; specifically, unassuming or humble behavior, lack of excesses or pretensions; moderation, decency; decorum.*

Most Christian women believe they should be modestly dressed, but there are many interpretations of the word “modest.” Some believe a certain style of dress is required, like the Amish and some Mennonite groups.** At the other end of the spectrum, some Christian women wear exactly what unbelievers wear, not giving any thought to whether it’s modest or not.

The Bible says, In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array (1 Timothy 2:9). The Greek word for modest used here is kosmios. It means modest, of good behavior, well-arranged, seemly, modest.***

Okay, what is modest?

Let’s start with what it’s not.

Go with me to the most not modest: a loose woman.

What do prostitutes routinely wear? Their clothing can be described by words like skimpy, tight, short, provocative, revealing, low, etc. A woman who is trying to advertise her body wears clothes that focus attention on what she is selling. Her clothing typically shows off the same parts of her anatomy. (I don’t think I need to get specific.) Part of the effect is what’s put together. For example, we were in a city where there was a loose woman on every single street corner. They all wore high-heeled boots to the knee, black fishnet hose, and miniskirts. By their dress, they proclaimed their trade.

Soooo, what kind of clothes do you think a godly woman should avoid? If a loose woman wears very short, tight, low clothing, then a godly woman should not wear short, tight, and low clothing. That’s pretty easy, isn’t it? Don’t wear short shorts, mini skirts, or low tops. Don’t go with tight clothing. You also should avoid showing a lot of skin.

What kind of attention do you want? You don’t want people’s eyes going to certain parts of your body. You want them to look you in the eye. You want respect.

Fashion models today tend to be six feet tall and size zero. They are exceptional girls—and so it has been throughout the centuries. There has always been a “model” body shape.

The Bible tells us Christian women have models, too. Let’s read 1 Timothy 2:9-10 again. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. According to these verses, who are our models? (Look in the parentheses.) They are women who profess godliness!

The Bible is not talking about anyone’s silhouette. It is plain that our clothing models should be godly women.

Do you know any godly woman who evidences her godliness by how she dresses? With this woman in mind:
  • What do you notice about her clothing?
  • What exactly does she wear?  
  • How would you describe her clothing? (I have a feeling you would use words like covering, longer, discreet, appropriate, tasteful, and maybe even beautiful.)
  • What kinds of accessories does she use?
  • Do you notice first her clothes or her character?

Let’s look at another Bible passage: Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4).

According to this passage, what is the godly woman’s adornment?

Are you surprised?

It’s her spirit! The meek (strength under control) and quiet spirit. What does God say about a woman like this? He approves! In fact, He says it’s an eternal treasure.

Modest clothing is important to God. He wants us to model the Christ-likeness we see in truly godly women. He wants us to exalt Him in the way we dress. He cares.

But even more than modest dress, God cares about our character.

Let’s look at the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31. What do her clothes look like?
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. She was classy. She looked nice and took pride in what she wore. Then, we read a curious statement: Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (verses 23, 25). Her strong character is her clothing!

What did others—including God—think of her? Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

  • Do we really want to please God?
  • Do we really want others to see the Lord in us?
  • Do we want our husband and children to praise us?

We need to dress—inside and out—to please God!


*Webster's New World College Dictionary
**Although I don’t personally wear these styles, I have no criticism of those who do, especially if the motivation is pleasing God.
***Online Bible


  1. Si debemos vestir-dentro y fuera de forma que agrademos a Dios en todo.

    1. Thank you, Tere, for your comment. God bless!


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