What Even IS Modesty?
If you were to look up the word “modest” in a dictionary some of the synonyms you would see are “unassuming,” “humble,” and—my favorite—“unflashy.”
One of the things I love about all those words is that they can be applied both to our attitudes as well as how we dress.
So what does having a modest attitude have to do with how we dress? Everything! Our attitude and beliefs show up in every area of our life, including how we dress. Several years ago, after leading many discussions and Bible studies on the area of dressing modestly, I realized that dressing modestly has little to do with fashion issues and everything to do with our heart.
You see, when our hearts are truly set on pleasing the Lord and honoring those around us, being modest in how we dress comes so easily and naturally. It’s when we are struggling with pride and selfishness that dressing modestly becomes an issue. The modest heart says, “I want to dress in a way that pleases Jesus and honors my brothers and sisters in Christ,” but the immodest or prideful heart says, “I want to dress in a way that makes me look and feel good,” with little regard for how it honors the Lord or others.
Now, I am not saying that, in order to dress modestly, you have to wear drab, out-of-date clothes. In fact, we will be having a whole session at Finish Well on how to dress both modestly and fashionably. But what I am saying is that having a modest heart means that our first priorities are to please the Lord and honor others. In essence, the modest heart is not focused on self, but on others.
It’s More Than Clothes
There are several guidelines that I could give on what it means to dress modestly such as not showing cleavage, not wearing clothes that are too tight or not wearing skirts and dresses that are too short. But rather than focus on a bunch of rules, as important as they can be, my bigger concern is your heart.
I would encourage you to grab some quiet time with the Lord and ask Him to show you if your heart is modest or not. James 4:6 says that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I don’t know about you, but I DEFINITELY don’t want the Lord to oppose me. I am in desperate need of His grace every single day.
As far as some practical advice is concerned about dressing modestly, one of the easiest ways to know if your outfit is modest or not is to simply stand in front of a mirror and ask the question, “If Jesus were standing here next to me, would I in any way be ashamed or feel uncomfortable?” And think in terms of those lovely synonyms, “unassuming,” “humble” and “unflashy!”
Sarah Jeffords is a wife, mother, and homemaker, as well as co-author of God’s Girls Beauty Secrets. She loves worship, leading Bible studies, scrapbooking, and baking—and of course raising her two sons for the Lord with her husband, Mike. For information about Sarah, click here. Find out what Finish Well sessions Sarah will be teaching!