We all (hopefully) agree that modesty is important; for both guys and gals. The controversy comes with what this really means. Even more, how do we live that out and teach it to others.
Legalism never brings life.
[Tweet “Legalism never brings life — not in modesty or in anything else!”]
Over the years I’ve found that the topic of modesty is a hotbed of controversy. More than that, I have seen those who seek to regulate everyone around them in this area by setting down boundaries that lead to rules that lead to legalism and assumptions about someone’s faith or salvation.
How many times have you heard:
- I would never allow my daughter/son to wear…
- Christians should never allow…
- We are responsible for someone else’s sin when we wear…
- It makes me wonder if someone is a real Christian if they wear…
But have you ever noticed that scripture doesn’t actually DEFINE what modesty looks like?
We are so quick to define for the entire church something that scripture itself doesn’t define. The words used in scripture for modest/modesty actually mean:
orderly, well-arranged, decent, a sense of honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect
Well, this doesn’t say that spaghetti straps are disallowed or that anything form-fitting is out of the question. It doesn’t say that it is my responsibility to make sure that no one else ever stumbles in their thoughts by what I wear. It doesn’t say that looking attractive is wrong or that frumpy is spiritual. It doesn’t give hemline or neckline dimensions.
Honoring God and personal boundaries
What I see these words saying is that my focus should be on dressing to honor God. It’s knowing that there is appropriateness to things. Modesty fits right in with adorning our looks while still looking for God to be the center of our hearts. And it is knowing that I am not responsible for everyone’s thoughts around me, but should make it my desire to love and honor God. Not to draw attention to my body, but to let all of me reflect the image of God.
[Tweet “Modesty means letting all of me reflect the image of God.”]
I may come up with personal boundaries for modesty that I am comfortable with. You may come up with different personal boundaries. If we are both loving the Lord, putting Him in the center of all we say and do and are growing in discretion, it isn’t up to someone else to determine what modest is for me. The Holy Spirit is quite capable of doing that Himself for me!
Let’s not try to play the Holy Spirit in everyone else’s life, but encourage one another to love and good deeds!
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All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos from pixaby.com