We’ve all heard this phrase before, right? It’s one that suggest that if you possess some desirable attribute (usually in the area of your physical body), then you should show it off. However, in this blog post, I want to discuss whether this is a belief/lifestyle that we should adopt as followers of Jesus Christ. Should we really flaunt it because we’ve “got it?”
Modesty Is Not Only About Clothes
Now, first things first: modesty does not only relate to the way we dress. As most of us understand by now, modesty is first and foremost a HEART issue. Whatever is in our heart, will manifest itself across multiple areas of our life i.e., how we speak, how we treat others, how we spend, how we dress, the list goes on. The definition of modesty is essentially, humility. In other words, to be modest is to agree with and submit yourself to God. It is to see ourselves and others the way God sees us and to act from a place of love and in accordance with Abba’s will for us. This means that both the obvious extreme of an egotistical personality and the more covert form of low self-esteem are actually both forms of immodesty because pride is the root.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. (Romans 12:3, NLT)
Modesty In Our Appearance
With that aside, I do want to specifically speak about how we dress / flaunt our bodies in this post, particularly as Christian women. If you want to look into modesty with regards to achievements and possessions as well, I’ve previously done a 50-minute teaching for Believers on Track here. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to check it out.
The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘flaunt’ as follows:
To show or make obvious something you are proud of in order to get admiration
To show your body in a confident and sexual manner
[Bold emphasis mine]
These definitions alone are CHALLENGING. If we are women who profess that Jesus is our Lord and that it’s Him we seek to please, then to do things in order to be admired by people is wrong. Don’t hear what I’m not saying: it’s not wrong, or even our business per se, if people admire us (prayerfully for the right / godly reasons if they do); HOWEVER, if we do things IN ORDER TO GET ADMIRATION then we are in flaunting territory and the MOTIVE of our heart is wrong. Period.
Again, it is not wrong to want to share or celebrate what the Lord is doing in, with, through or for us (and part of this may include a physical transformation or coming to see and love ourselves from His perspective — including our physical appearance (see Romans 12:15 / Acts 15:4 / Romans 15:18 as examples). HOWEVER, if our motive is to receive admiration as oppose to testify of and admire God, then again, we step into flaunting territory.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1, NLT)
If the Lord says that there’s no reward for doing good deeds to be seen of men, how much less of a reward is there when we sexually flaunt ourselves to be seen and admired of men (male or female)? Like I said, this stuff is challenging because we live in a generation where sexually flaunting yourself is the norm (unfortunately, even amongst our Christian leaders who are supposed to lead by example). Though society may change and the church fall captive to the culture, we, as believers, are still individually accountable to the Lord. We have to allow the Bible itself to be our plum line and not our favourite preachers or influencers. We have to check our own hearts. Daily.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)
Modesty Is Contextual
One of the things the Lord told me, a number of years ago now, is that modesty is contextual. If you go to an event where you’re expected to dress nicely / smartly, but you turn up in a tracksuit or pyjamas, this is not modest, it’s rude. Similarly, you wouldn’t wear the same thing you’d wear in a hot country or on the beach, as you’d wear in a cold country or on a snowy ski trip. In other words, you wear different clothing depending on the context.
And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. (1 Timothy 2:9-10, NLT) [Bold emphasis mine]
What is considered immodest in one country, is not always considered immodest in another. What looks modest on you, may not look modest on me. Nevertheless, we are ALL still required to dress in a way that is decent and appropriate for a woman who claims to be devoted to God. In other words, we are to dress in a way that doesn’t deliberately draw attention to ourselves (again, it's all about motive). The Lord has already given each of us a built in sense of what is right/appropriate, and this is called our conscience.
So why didn’t Abba just give us a hard and fast rule?
My personal understanding of this is that Abba wants to be involved. If I know anything about God, it’s that He delights in our unique relationships with Him. He is a God of principle, but also of liberty. Modesty is a principle, but within this there is liberty. But this liberty is not so we can sin, but so that we can love God and His people, know Him and express Him uniquely.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13, NLT) But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. (Romans 14:23, NLT)
As with everything in our Christian walk, the Lord wants to be in the intricacies of how we dress. Modesty is a principle that can only truly be applied when we walk in intimacy with God and allow Him to lead and guide our lives. One of the reasons we see more and more Christians falling pray to the new “cultural norm” of sexually flaunting themselves is because less and less people are willing to do the heart work with God. Less and less Christians read their Bible (so don’t know the standard or principles of God), and less and less are willing to stick to their conscience, be convicted by the Holy Ghost, or even stand out from the crowd.
In a generation where our culture pretty much says it’s okay to be “inappropriate”, and that every man can do what is “right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), it is even more imperative that Christians base their moral convictions on the Word of God and not on social standards. Where society may have once had a conscience and a sense of what’s decent (which were mostly taken from a biblical worldview), we have moved very far from that in our day. For this reason, we just cannot base our sense of conviction on what is “normal” to the world.
We may not always get it right
Though we may seek / desire to be modest in our appearance; unfortunately, we may miss the mark at times (I know I have). Thank God that it’s not the end of the world when we do! Simply check your heart (I.e., ask yourself, “why did I really choose to wear that?”), then repent (change your mind / thinking) and keep it moving! (There’s no place for condemnation round here). So long as we keep our heart close to Abba’s and allow Him to CORRECT us, we can always keep growing, and always keep being transformed.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)
When was the last time you asked the Holy Ghost what you should wear? Over the next 7 days, I challenge you to ask the Lord to choose your outfit each day. What did He choose? Is His style for you, the same as your style for you? Did you discover anything new about yourself or Him? Did His choice save you from any wardrobe / weather disasters? Let me know in the comments.
I pray this post both challenged and blessed you. If it did, please leave a comment below and/or share it with a friend.
In His love always,