#MeditationMonday – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.
Welcome, dearly beloved. I pray the mercies of God over you throughout this week. I hope to encourage and build you up in the Lord. I pray that you will gain a deeper understanding of the spirit of modesty. As you grow in this knowledge and understanding, may you be empowered to share your convictions with others.
A while back, we did a post on how submission isn’t just a woman’s thing and that got us thinking about other biblical principles that have been watered down and applied only to women, hence the topic of modesty.
And the women should be the same way, quiet and sensible in manner and clothing. Christian women should be noticed for being kind and good, not for the way they fix their hair or because of their jewels or fancy clothes.
— 1 Timothy 2:9-10 [TLB]
Modesty is a theme all over the bible. Although women are being instructed in this particular verse, the underlying principle of modesty applies to everyone, male and female. The principle of modesty relates to the state of your attitude. In this verse, women are exalted to be noticed for their kind attitude, not their outward appearance. Take a quick look at points 1 & 3 below:
From those definitions alone, when was the last time you heard anyone tell a “man” to be modest? Society has relegated this principle to the way women dress and stopped there. It is often that the focus is on women because “men are more visually stimulated than women” but in our opinion, that’s just an excuse and a terrible one at that. Dr Julie Azvedo Hanks said something profound on this issue:
Overemphasizing modesty in young women sends the message that modesty does not apply to males. When we reduce the concept of modesty to what females wear, we are reinforcing the very thing that modesty is supposed to help avoid: the sexual objectification of women’s bodies.
There is nothing gender specific about the principle of modesty. Men are called to modesty just as much as women are. So how about we exalt our men to modesty too? How about we let them know that looking at a lady like she’s a piece of meat is not modest? Wearing those tight pants or that shirt showing your all your chest muscles or leaving your chest too open isn’t modest either?
Nonetheless, this post isn’t just a call to men, it’s a call to everyone. We’ve all probably all heard this before, but let’s reiterate: When modesty is spoken of, it is important to keep in mind it is not limited to the way a person dresses. Yes, it includes clothing but extends to things like style, conversation, and conduct. It is a way of living. Modesty is an outward expression of an inward attitude. What is held in a person’s heart eventually comes out in the manner that they live.
In light of this, let’s redirect the conversation on modesty beyond physical dressing into spiritual dressing: cultivating a habit of spiritual modesty. How about all of us, men and women alike, learn to clothe our spirits properly for a change?
Spiritual modesty in particular, is the quality of being humble, orderly and pure, the quality of being decent, reasonable and not extreme. A number of characters that displayed spiritual modesty include:
- David while serving Saul
- Joseph while serving Potiphar
- Rebekah while ministering to Eliezer
- Ruth when she was gleaning the fields of Boaz
- Esther when approaching her husband and king
- The Syrophoenician woman speaking to Jesus in Mark 7:25-30
These people attracted attention not only because of their outward appearance but also due to their spiritual modesty.
The smaller principles of decency, humility and purity fall under the bigger umbrella of Modesty; Romans 12 is an outline or roadmap for spiritual modesty and everyone should meditate upon it from time to time. Each verse directs Christians to maintain an attitude of humility and self-control.
As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.
– Romans 12:3 [TLB]
Just like the Syrophoenician woman, are we honest in the way think of ourselves? Our language and grooming are also part of our modesty? The woman’s language was very honest and humble, despite her desperation. Is the language in our conversations filled with modesty? Do we swear/curse in our desperation? If you are modest, you do not draw undue attention to yourself. Instead, you seek to glorify God in your body and spirit per I Corinthians 6:20.
Just like King Saul, if you are not spiritually modest, your relationship with God will suffer no matter how many exploits you do for Him. You may be seen as great, but when you lack modesty, Proverbs 11:22 says it’s like adorning an animal (a pig) with expensive accessories (a fine gold ring).
Modesty is not about cloth length, it’s about cloth purity; it’s not just about how you clothe your body, it’s about how you clothe your heart. The way you clothe your spirit shows how you are trying to gain God’s attention. How have you clothed your spirit? Have you clothed it with purity or have you clothed it with murmuring, complaints and a bad attitude? Is your spirit decent and lacking pride? Do you come to God with simplicity? With childlike faith? Are you sober or pretentious in God’s presence?
And the parts of the body we think are less deserving [honourable] are the parts to which we give the most [special; greater] honour. We give special respect to [or treat with special modesty] the parts we want to hide [that are shameful.
— 1 Corinthians 12:23 [EXB]
Our spirit is one of the very special parts of ourselves, that we often neglect and forget to take care of. We’re living in the age of screenshots, but imagine we could screenshot our hearts? If we could take a visible screenshot of our spirits, many of us would be shocked at what we found and probably too embarrassed to show it to the public.
We remember to take our baths, dress up, makeup, get a haircut etc. but we’re neglecting our spirit. It’s our spirits that hide and conceal secret sins, in our minds where we think it’s just us and God, we don’t want to reveal those areas. These un-presentable areas of our lives must be taken to God through modesty, so He may make it presentable once again.
You cultivate spiritual modesty by catering to your spirit, what are you feeding it? Are you feeding it the word of Hollywood or are you feeding it the word of God? How are you dressing your spirit? They say how you dress is how you will be addressed, well it works the same way with your spirit. If you only wear modesty outwards, you’ll only get the outward benefits.
Wear your modesty inwards that it may radiate from there to the rest of your life.
Take this example: If you only dress decently to church so people won’t judge you, then that’s all you’ll get. On the other hand, if you dress decently everywhere because you believe your body is the temple of God, you’ll get so much more than people not judging you!
Many ladies dress decently to church not because they really think their body is the temple of God, but because they want people in church to think they are holy, while many men dress haphazardly to church because they think simplicity would make others look down on them; both these attitudes demonstrate a greater of fear man than God.
Many of us fear people more than we fear God! A healthy fear of God is important to maintain the habit of spiritual modesty. We are often comfortable sinning on the inside while we cover our outsides for fear that people will judge us. This is why it is important to wear modesty inwards not just outwards. It is easier to strip off the outwardly but what remains inside is not so easily removed.
Strawberries and Cashews are unique fruits because they have their seeds on the outside. This is the perfect metaphor for spiritual modesty. As wordofthevine says, strawberries are evangelising. When your inner modesty begins to show, it becomes an evangelistic tool for God to draw others unto Him.
Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
– I Peter 3:4 [NASB]
Spiritual modesty embodies the imperishable qualities of a gentle and quiet spirit. God allows us to express ourselves in individual ways, but His presence must not be dimmed by our individuality. This is why spiritual modesty is more important than physical modesty.
Rid yourself of the mindset that people have to look or dress like you to make heaven. Christian sisters or brothers don’t have to dress a certain way to make heaven, we are all individuals with unique styles, and we can express that, but what is precious in God’s sight is a modest spirit that is gentle and quiet.
Mary (Mother of Jesus), Ruth, Rebekah and Rahab had vastly different personalities but what they all had in common was a gentle spirit, they demonstrated spiritual modesty.
Yes, Rahab the prostitute, you read that correctly. Joseph (the dreamer), Job and David were also extremely different in personality, yet with the same spirit of modesty.
Spiritual modesty is a way to allow God’s nature to always be on display in your life. Let go of the need for people to notice you, so that people can notice God IN you.
As men and women, who are children of God, we must adorn ourselves with spiritual modesty if we want others to be attracted to the God in us! Spend your week meditating in this, you can start by saying this prayer:
Prayer: Dear Lord, teach me to be modest in my living. Help me not to cater to the outside and ignore the inside. May your presence in my life not be dimmed by my personality and may all that I do, be a reflection of you not a glorification of me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.