It’s summer time! That means fireworks, weddings galore, camps, baseball and vacations are in full swing.
If you’re a church girl, I don’t have to tell you that one of the buzzwords surrounding warm weather is “modesty”.
We’ve got all sorts of people, especially our most hormonal friends (read teenagers) spending lots of time together over summer. There might even be a pool or a beach involved. This probably conjures up a list of dos and don’ts or the mental image of “I love Jesus” t-shirts over swim suites.
There are countless articles, books and conversations surrounding the issue of modesty and I know my voice could easily get lost in the sea of opinions which range all over the spectrum on a scale of birthday suit to burka.
Sometimes, we follow a set of rules and encourage others to follow such rules that are cultural for the sake of not wanting to rock the boat. Other times, we’re filled with angst and rock that boat in the name of “self-expression” and “freedom”.
Let’s look at what makes modest the hottest after all.
Clothing shapes our identity. It’s one of the first things we use to help identify people. That’s why jobs issue people uniforms and church groups give out identical t-shirts.We group people by clothing as well. Clothing can communicate your ethnic identity, your gender, your socioeconomic status, religious affiliation or a in-group belonging of any kind. That’s why every 12-year-old HAS to have that one pair of shoes. Our clothing can create divisions too. Just ask the 12-year-old who didn’t get the right shoes or the girls who only visited church once because her hem line got more attention than her face.
Our clothes communicate things to others. If you go to an interview, you wear something that makes you look responsible, professional and hireable. Clothing speaks and it can say all kinds of things like;
- – I just came from a work out so I obviously am a breakfast-eating, responsible person
- -I only listen to bands you’ve never heard of
- -I am a professional
- -I dressed myself for preschool today, thank you very much!
- -Ironically, I spend a lot of money so I can look like I don’t care at all
- -I belong to this Greek organization
- -Hey!!!! Look at me! Look at me! Looooook!!!
- -I play volleyball for the lady panthers
- -I really, super love me some Christian t-shirts!
Since our clothes speak, we need to ask, are they telling the truth?
For those who hear the modesty talk the loudest and the most often….girls…What do your clothes say that you value more, attention or respect? These are important questions to ask ourselves when we get dressed in the morning.
Unfortunately, of all the numbers in the Bible, there isn’t one for the appropriate length of an inseam in girl’s shorts. The Word does give us an awful lot about clothing ourselves and what to put on. Let’s focus on what is clearly stated and let that be our guide.
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves,
all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
:: 1 Peter 5:5
Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
:: Romans: 13:12-14
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
:: Colossians 3:12
Above all, clotheyourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
:: Colossians 3:14
You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
:: 1 Peter 3:4
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
:: Galatians 3:27
Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,
:: Luke 12:35
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.
:: Isaiah 61:10
And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
:: Revelation 21:2
There it is. These are our guide for presenting ourselves, for finding our identity and our way of communicating ourselves to others. We first put on Christ and He clothes us in His salvation and righteousness as His Bride. Then, since He gave us His armor of light to put on, we are ready to dress for service, having the beauty of Christ that is a gentle and meek spirit. We put on His humility and clothe ourselves in His kindness, love, patience and tenderhearted mercy.
What we choose to put on has great power, not only over us, but over what we communicate to others. God extends to us the greatest exchange of all time. Because Christ put on flesh to be God with us, we can put on Christ! We put Him on and he is our modesty. Modesty, then, is so much more than what we lack in clothing. It is a sin of the sin-sick heart that puts self before God. In the Greek, it is kósmos. This word translates as “being in right order” and as “treating the face as a whole”. We can reason that the opposite of modesty, immodesty, is being out-of-order and is not treating the whole. Because an immodest heart puts self before God and results in being treated as parts rather than the beautiful whole of your person, your whole face.
And you know what our Modesty says about seeing your whole face? He says,
My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face;
let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
:: Song of Songs 2:14
Put Him first, get things in right order and let Him see your whole face.
Since we are clothed in Christ, we have the opportunity to share Him with others. His robe of righteousness is big enough for everyone to get covered (Isaiah 6:1) In Matthew 25, Christ tells his followers to clothe others and in so doing, we clothe Christ himself. In this instruction, we are to extend dignity and compassion to others just as Christ has done for us! In meekness and loving-kindness, we dress for service and offer the greatest thing we can to others, we offer them our Modesty.
Souls, put on your glorious dress,
Waking into righteousness;
Clothed with Christ aspire to shine,
Radiance he of light divine.
:: Charles Wesley ::