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The question of modesty in clothing is a controversial topic. Most religious people have firm opinions about it, one way or the other. Even the mere reading of 1 Tim. 2:9,10 is often enough to provoke heated discussion: "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness -- with good works."
We need to be careful with Bible subjects like this not to throw them into a totally subjective realm where everything is mere opinion. God would not have commanded us to dress modestly if it were impossible to do anything more than have an opinion about what modest dress is. Surely it is possible to understand what God's will is on this subject, just as with any other.
One thing we need to bear in mind is that modesty starts in the heart. It is essentially a quality of character. Peter touches on this when he says, "Do not let your adorning be external -- the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear -- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (1 Pt. 3:3,4). When our hearts possess the quality of modesty, we will dress modestly, assuming our consciences are not misinformed on the subject. But while the condition of the heart is the primary consideration, both inner and outer modesty are important. In truth, God wants us to be modest people and to dress accordingly.
Unfortunately, we live in an age when lasciviousness is considered to be a matter of very little importance by society at large. Any significant sense of shame with respect to nakedness has vanished. During the warmer months of the year, we are surrounded nearly everywhere we go by individuals dressed immodestly. There is nothing much we can do about this -- except determine that we ourselves are going to dress in a manner that our Lord would approve of. This is a part of what is involved in being "blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15). As we go through this coming week, let's consider (or reconsider) the importance of modesty.
Monday: 1 Peter 3:1-6
Key Idea: As Christians, we are to be chaste and modest in our character and also our conduct.
Questions for Family Growth: What is "chaste conduct" (NKJV)? How does a person "adorn" the "hidden person of the heart"? What is meant by the "gentle and quiet spirit" which Peter says is "very precious" in the sight of God?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 28:28.
Tuesday: 1 Timothy 2:8-10
Key Idea: As Christians, we are to clothe ourselves modestly, with propriety and moderation.
Questions for Family Growth: How might we define "modest apparel" (NKJV)? What are "propriety and moderation" (NKJV), and what do they have to do with clothing? How is it possible to know what is "proper" for those who "profess godliness"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:1.
Wednesday: Galatians 5:19-21
Key Idea: Lasciviousness (licentiousness) is sinful.
Questions for Family Growth: How does the dictionary define the word "lasciviousness" (v.19 in the KJV)? What words are used here in the NKJV, ESV, etc.? Are these totally subjective terms? What does Paul say will be the eternal destiny of those who practice the works of the flesh?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:2.
Thursday: Romans 12:1,2
Key Idea: No longer worldly people, we are to be transformed and renewed in our thinking.
Questions for Family Growth: How do we present our bodies a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God"? What is the difference between "conformed" and "transformed"? How do we "prove" (NKJV) the will of God?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:3.
Friday: Colossians 3:17
Key Idea: In whatever we do, we are to do that which meets with the Lord's approval.
Questions for Family Growth: In practical, everyday terms, what does it mean to do things "in the name of the Lord Jesus"? Are we to do the Lord's will just in congregational matters (such as the worship of the church), or are personal, individual matters also to be within the Lord's will?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 29:4.