Why is modesty such a difficult thing for so many of us? Why do we say such phrases as, “Just as long as it covers everything”? Why do we ask questions such as, “How short is too short?’, or “How far can I go before I cross ‘the line’?” Shouldn’t the question be, “How much can I honor You with my body, Lord?” Let’s back up here…
People have opinions, and they are going to try to force their opinions down your throat; mostly good and well-meaning opinions. Even most prominent people in Christian circles do this, and we have the tendency to run after “the popular crowd” (yes, even in Christian circles!), and follow their rules on modesty and so on. We like to “impress the best”, so we take on a bunch of man-made rules, in this case: modesty defined by a bunch of legalistic Christians (pardon me, but that is what they are).
But does it really matter who we impress if we don’t “impress” God, our Savior? I mean, He should be the only one we strive to please. But what pleases God? Well, we might be able to glean some information from a few verses in His word:
“…For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) “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 of 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 (ESV)
From the first verse we learn that God is more concerned about the inside than He is about the outside. The second verse addresses this point as well, but gives further detail into what God desires from our “hidden person of the heart”. He desires in us “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit”, and in His eyes it is most precious. This is what is pleasing to Him.
Is it odd that we consume ourselves with our outer appearance, all the while God sees right through it to the inside? We spend a lot of effort on our clothing, while at the same time we neglect our “inner person of the heart” and our relationship with God, which is of far greater value than beauty that fades away (2 Corinthians 4:16 [ESV]). While we should have been purifying our hearts to be pleasing to God, we have been obsessing over our appearance, making sure we look “good and godly” from the outside when our hearts haven’t measured up to God’s definition of beauty (maybe you don’t do this…great! but most of us do, and I am not exempting myself from this, either).
So, since this post is actually supposed to be about modesty, let me get back on topic…When people talk about modesty, they are going to try to tell you what and what not to wear, and others have debated this topic to a pulp. But, really, there shouldn’t even have to be conversation/debates on such topics as what certain types of clothing are modest (“Should we wear skirts, pants, or can we wear both?” etc…), because modesty is not defined by what we wear.
Modesty, or a lack thereof, is a condition of the inside; the “hidden person of the heart”, not the outer body.
Apparently there is such a thing as “modesty of the heart”; and the funny thing is, when we have a “modest” heart, we don’t even have to worry about outward modesty. When we have a heart that is modest, we won’t want to dress in a way that brings the wrong type of attention to ourselves, because we want to honor God. Modesty then takes care of itself. Yep, it’s that simple, or is it really. How do we obtain a modest heart? Well, knowing God and His word, and having His Son living inside of us is a good start, and I guess the rest of it comes by seeking Him with all our hearts. Let’s do that.