How to Pursue Real Biblical Modesty in Our Heart, Speech, and Life
By Emma Danzey, Crosswalk.com
Modesty is a calling from God for all people. It is an area of great growth and maturity. We are going to spend some time today studying the Scriptures and applying them to our lives personally. What does the Bible really say about modesty?
I want to add a disclaimer as well that if you have ever heard modesty incorrectly taught in a legalistic or harmful way, that I am so sorry. This is a very challenging topic to discuss because there are a lot of personal choices within it, but today we are going to focus in on the calling of modesty for a believers and how, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be modest in heart, word, and life.
What does the way we speak and dress say about our hearts? Could it say, “I need attention” or “Don’t look at me”? “I respect myself and others,” “I want to stand out,” or “I want to be loved”?
Today, before we can even address physical or emotional modesty, what about the heart?
I think the biggest question is why? Why does it matter what people wear or say? It is one thing to do an action out of duty, but it is another to live out obedience from the heart.
Proverbs 21:2 – “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
God cares more about the state of our hearts than the state of our dress. However, the way that we dress can indicate the state of our hearts.
If all we ever focus on in the concept of modesty is changing someone’s clothing, it is no different than putting a band aid on a gunshot wound – it covers up the visible issue but does not deal with the deeper problem.
Mark 7:21-23 - “Because it’s from within, from the human heart, that evil thoughts come, as well as sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, cheating, shameless lust, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these things come from inside and make a person unclean.”
Jeff Bethke says, “A woman must have her heart changed before her clothes ever will.”
The root of our outward presentation is connected with our identity. Who we are comes down to what we want to present to others.
Romans 13:14-15 – “Rather, clothes yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
If we are always on mission and always seeking opportunities to share Christ, are we clothing our hearts with Jesus? Is He the fulfillment of our desires?
Proverbs 31:30 – "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
Following Jesus is the most beautiful thing about a person. Have you ever met a woman who was so stunningly beautiful on the outside, but she was evil and mean on the inside? What was it like being around her after you discovered her heart was not as kind as her appearance?
1 Peter 3:3-4 – “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
I just turned 30, and I can tell you that my prime is probably behind me, but I am still hopefully going to be increasing in the beauty of my whole self. The beauty of heart, character, and the fruit of the Spirit. Some of the most beautiful women I know are in their 50s and 60s right now. They don’t look anything like celebrities, but they are stunning people.
Beauty is not a bad thing; it is a gift from God and only a glimpse into how majestic He is. But as Christ followers, we should be known for more. He has done a complete renovation of our hearts and the world should be in shock and awe.
I love a good home-makeover show. Our last name is Renno, and I told my husband Drew if we ever go into this kind of business, that we will have to title our company, “RennoVations.” The houses always start out disgusting, battered, old, smelly, and damaged, but then they show the before and after where the house is new, fresh, stylish, welcoming, and beautiful. That is what Jesus has done to our hearts and is still doing as we grow closer to Him; we increase in our heart beauty.
You may never have thought of modesty in reference to the way that we talk, but an easy area to forget is that our words have great impact.
Webster’s Dictionary defines modesty as the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities and appropriateness in dress, speech, or conduct. This means that as believers, we are called to be humble in every area of our lives. This includes our speech. Are my words glorifying to God? Are my online posts appropriate in what I am writing? Does my phone conversation or text have discretion?
Colossians 4:6 - “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
We have to be prayerful and intentional to avoid speaking about inappropriate desires or thoughts. We could dress like nuns all day, but if we say sensual and suggestive things in our language, we are technically being immodest. What does our speech say about our hearts?
Luke 6:43-45 - “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Our hearts are deceitful and sinful. If we’re honest, the words we say that do not honor Christ stem from broken hearts. We do not have to live there though. God equips us by the power of His Holy Spirit to live by His strength, not our own. We can pause and invite the Spirit into our conversations. We can yield to His leading instead of falling into the temptation to speak immodestly.
The truth is that without Christ, we were ugly on the inside. We chose our own selfishness. As we think about Eve, the first woman, being tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit, there is a specific mention of the way that the fruit looked. It was that the fruit was pleasing to the eye (Genesis 3:1-10).
The Lord calls us to be beautiful through praising and honoring Him. We can actually worship God by the decisions we make with clothing.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 - “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness."
Ellicott the commentator says, “Avoiding especially in these services anything like a conspicuous dress or showy ornaments—anything, in fact, which would be likely to arouse attention, or distract the thoughts of others.”
We may think about the way that students dress in high school, and how it can be directly connected with what group they are associated with. An athlete dresses sporty, a goth dresses all black, a prep wears button-downs. We would do well to ask the question, “Is what I am wearing associating me with Jesus?” Would someone look at me and believe that I could be a Christian simply based on what I put on my body?
When we know that we are children of the Most High God, we dress in ways that honor and represent Him well, while still expressing our unique personalities, freedom, and styles that He has given to us.
Modest does not mean frumpy and unattractive. Modest means carrying yourself in a manner that shows respect to you, to others and to God. He knows that sin is in this world.
Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to transform the way that we think about clothing, we will match the pattern of this world. Only by renewing our minds can we see and know what God’s will is, even in how we are to dress.
God tells us some tips about modesty. He says that although it fine to be stylish, the most important beauty we can show is the beauty from our hearts.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - "You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
This passage is referencing purity. How we clothe ourselves ties into this concept. We are to honor God with our bodies and that means we need to seek Him in how to dress ourselves.
There is an unhealthy and sinful extreme to this. Legalism would tell us that we are tied down to man-made rules about clothing choices.
For example, I’ve just finished listening to Jinger Dougar’s book called, “Becoming Free Indeed.” In the book, she discusses her realization in testing her family’s culture with the Bible. She is 6th in a family of 19 biological children. Her parents followed a leader who misrepresented the Lord. She was in a culture of constant fear instead of freedom in Christ. She shares, “I realized that Biblical modesty is deeper and more profound than wearing skirts instead of pants.” What God is calling us into is not bondage, but freedom.
God’s Word is perfect and from Him. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
With this being said, the scariest part is that the Devil knows Scripture too and his very first attack on humanity was twisting the words of God. We also read of Jesus fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and the Devil tempting him by using Scripture incorrectly.
This is why it is important for us to be reading our Bibles. Reading and listening to encouraging messages from others is great, but nothing can replace the Word of God. His words are more valuable than His creation’s. We are called to honor God with our bodies, and this includes how we dress.
We can simply ask these three questions before selecting any outfit.
1. Does this outfit honor God?
2. Does this outfit honor me?
3. Does this outfit honor others?
If the answer to any of the 3 questions is no, then the outfit should be a no.
If all three questions can be answered with a yes, we can feel good about it.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/pcess609
Emma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, inspiring young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew for over two years and mom to baby Graham. Drew and Emma serve with Upstate CRU college ministry in South Carolina. Emma is an avid writer for Salem Web Network and provides articles on the Bible, life questions, and on the Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 viewed article on Crosswalk for the year 2021. All the glory to the Lord! She had the joy of hosting Her Many Hats podcast where she explored the many roles that women play while serving One God. Most recently, Emma has released her first Bible Study Book, Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness.
Emma enjoys singing/songwriting, fitness classes, trying new recipes, home makeover shows, and drinking tea! During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Emma also had the privilege of having been a national spokesperson for Mukti Mission based out of India. Mukti has been working to restore shattered lives in India for over 120 years. You can view her articles through her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com