Hi reader, thank you for clicking on this article. As a charity, it is due to the donation from individuals that allow us to share this article with you for free! However the truth is, less than 1% of our readers donate and in order for us to keep on going, we need your help. If you donate just £2 a month, you can help Our God Given mission keep thriving. To donate, click here.
The issue of modesty is a prevailing topic amongst young Christians today. I have always struggled with the conversations surrounding modesty when only directed at women. Men equally need to be included in discussions on modesty. However, the conversations are always tailored to speak to how a woman should dress. The policing of our clothing by “well-meaning” Christians has at times come across as degrading, rude and insulting, leaving many with a negative association of the word. There are very strong opposing views on this issue. So, what exactly is modesty?
Modesty is for men and women
We read of “brotherly love and affection” (Romans 12:10) and “correcting our brethren” in the faith (Galatians 6:10); however, at times, we do not execute the correction with the gentleness and compassion required. On many occasions, words have been used to hurt, belittle and shame women in the church. A lack of understanding of what it means to be modest has translated into an un-Christ-like rejection of members in the body, based on appearance. It appears that we are always speaking solely to women on this issue, in regards to what they wear. If our focus is to not cause the other to stumble, modesty applies to both genders as each are equally at risk of lust. Nonetheless, the topic of modesty is greater than the effects that our outfits have on another person.
Modesty is a call to a higher standard of living that draws the attention away from self. To be modest is to be humble enough to understand that the attention does not have to be ourselves. Every Christian should be modest, as Christ was modest.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the crossPhilippians 2:8
Our greatest example is Jesus Christ. No example is greater than His. Jesus was modest in appearance (Isa. 53:2), character (Phil. 2:7), speech (Jn. 12:49) and conduct (Jn. 6:38). All Christians, male and female, should aspire in our daily lives to becoming modest like Christ.
Modesty is about more than what you wear
We seem to have the opinion that modesty is only about clothing. Clothing contributes to our display of modesty but so does our behaviour around people too. The outflow of a modest person will be reflected in their appearance as with their character, love and grace to others.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony”Colossians 3:14
The conversation on modesty is often focused on females and clothing. Although what we wear should be driven by a heart that seeks to please God above all else, our outfit should not be the main focus. And this applies to all, men and women alike. Our boast should be in Christ alone (2 Corinthians 10:17). Our lives as Christians are to be examples displaying the personhood of Christ, first and foremost.
Modesty is a heart issue
The issue of modesty stems from the heart. We know that God sees the heart more than the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). The true depth of a modest heart is one of surrender. What is more important to God than a heart in complete surrender of self and in complete obedience to Him. To surrender self for Christ, deny self-desires for obedience to God’s will.
Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”Mark 8:34
We need to adopt an attitude where all we do, think, say and wear is to the glory of God, not self, nor the attention or applause of others. Forms of boasting, grandiose attire and pride are at opposing spectrums to modesty which is driven out of humility. If we are more concerned with the external, earthly possessions – food, clothing, money, jewellery, or anything else, we have lost focus. We should desire a life of modesty that declares, “what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).
Finally, I want to implore us to open our minds to a new understanding of this topic. We tend to quote the Scriptures as the main arguments on modesty and direct it at women only. The topic of modesty is for all Christians. Although certain verses are gender specific, the conversation should be tackled holistically. The Bible makes it clear that;
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness2 Timothy 3:16
We need an understanding of the appropriate way to approach the Scripture in regards to modesty. An understanding that allows us to both teach and correct in grace and truth, as well as display modesty in how we express our opinions about the topic.