“Acknowledge the majesty of the LORD’s reputation! Worship the LORD in holy attire!”
1 Timothy 2:9
“Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing,”
1 Corinthians 6:20
“For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.”
“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for anyone who does this is offensive to the LORD your God.”
She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).
The church has become not just relevant today, but casual and cool. The uniform can include ripped jeans or revealing clothing, and it’s all fine before our forgiving, accepting God. Or is it? If I were to go before a King, how would I dress? How is this applied before a King in Whose presence we are in continually?
I fear that this post today can be taken as legalism or liberality. Yes, I like to examine both sides of an issue. There is liberty in Christ, but what do we use that freedom for? There is forgiveness, but do we abuse that lavish gift by not recognizing the magnitude of such a sacrifice? The application of this principle of modesty is multiple and varied across denominations. Some espouse that a woman must wear a head covering or specify the exact articles of clothing that are mandated or approved, while others think it is permissible to dress to be “hot”. Some clothing specifications are what man requires and some standards are needed by organizations – but what does God require?
Establishing specific rules of clothing can be heaping false righteousness onto what God’s standards are. I have been there – admittedly, I felt self-righteous when I used to wear my gunny/potato sack dresses. Add to that the nerdy clogs to go with the dress and bingo – I was holy! Well, the outward might have been perceived as holy by some people’s standards, but the judgmental attitude toward others might not have been so holy.
Don’t get me wrong – God does have a standard for clothing. The Scriptures above testify to it. The principles are spelled out, but we can add or subtract to those principles and attempt to condone our decisions in what we wear by either utilizing the “Legalistic” or the “freedom in Christ” doctrines. We can think we have a right to dress in a worldly way or the opposite extreme – that we must dress like a monk, and miss the point entirely. The righteous person avoids all extremes.
What we wear matters to God, because often underneath our decisions of what we wear is a heart issue. It is not the outward that God looks on, but the inner man. More than our daily choices, He wants our hearts surrendered to Him. When we make our clothing a matter of focusing merely on the outward and become judgmental of others, who in faith wear jeans, for instance, we are no longer operating in grace. We have made clothing our righteousness. Each one of us answers to God alone in our decisions in this life. Yes, every deed, every word, every motive will be weighed by Him alone.
What are we to wear then? Common sense and a sensitive heart to the LORD consider how to promote purity. Style is irrelevant to ensuring our undergarments remain underneath our attire and our private parts are, well, kept private. When in doubt, don’t. Pray about it – yes, even small matters can pose a stumbling block to others. Can we let go of the need to wear something ungodly when our pride, seeking attention or fitting in are obviously the motivations? If we go before Him honestly, He will lead us. Will we follow? He who is faithful in small matters will be faithful with much.
When we come before a Holy God, Who is the King of kings, more than our clothing we should wear gratitude and praise for our King and rise above the culture’s emphasis on the outward. In fact, even choosing what we wear is worship when we acknowledge Him and dress in a way to please Him.
Ultimately, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and want to honor Him. If we are His ambassadors, we want to dress in a way that displays him to the world. Different, maybe, but I do not want to cheapen His majesty. We are arrayed in the most beautiful covering of all – Christ.
Lord, may our actions and decisions within this culture we live in always be about glorifying You. May we speak, act and dress in a manner worthy of You.