|Neuschwanstein Castle near Munich, Germany|
According to the Bible, our actions, our comportment, our attitudes and our dress are to reflect modesty in order to attract others to Christ. By contrast, the world tells us that it doesn't matter what we wear, how we behave or walk in society. It is all relative to what makes you feel good. Unfortunately, this mindset has crept into the church. The Apostle Paul gave some sound encouragement to Timothy as a young pastor facing challenges as many Gentiles came into the church out of a pagan background. He wrote in 1 Timothy 2:9-10: "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." Certainly, I do not believe that Paul had anything against women's hairdos or their clothing. I believe his main point was that women should be mindful of what they wear so it does not distract or cause others to stumble. Dressing in nice clothing is not a sin. However, when we wear something which causes others to focus on us rather than the Lord, we are not demonstrating the virtue of modesty.
Another area where immodesty can be seen is in our speech. We have all heard a friend brag about an accomplishment at one time or another. Sharing our good fortune is fine, but going beyond this crosses a line especially for a Christian. In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote this admonition: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." If we boast at all, we are to boast in the Lord and of His goodness and mercy. In ourselves, we do not possess goodness nor the ability to save ourselves. Instead, it is in God's domain to do for us what we can never do for ourself. The Word promises that as we lift up Christ, He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). We can only do this by honoring Christ with our speech as well as our dress. However there is one other area, we need to be concerned about as believers.
When we come together to worship, we need to check our hearts to make certain we have dressed them in modesty. The Pharisees were concerned with show. They wanted people to see them and honor them so they used both their dress as well as their speech to persuade others of their holiness. This, too, is a caricature of righteous behavior. Jesus said: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1). Our lives are to reflect the glory of the Lord not take glory for ourselves. We are God's living, holy temples as Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthian believers: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" ( I Cor. 6:19-20).
Wearing the virtue of modesty is becoming a lost practice in many churches today. We are becoming too much influenced by our society and doing little to influence them as we ought. We can be trendy in our clothing without going overboard or causing others to stumble. Likewise, we can be excited over our achievements without sounding as though we are the greatest thing since sliced cheese. This is how we put on modesty by remembering that salvation comes from the Lord. He calls us to Himself and any blessings we receive come as a result of His grace and goodness to us. Therefore, we are called to put on Christ and wear Him modestly in our attitude, actions and dress so that attention is given to Him and not to us. Our goal in this life should be like that of John the Baptist when he said: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). May this be our prayer and our purpose in Christ. Selah!