Now that we’ve established that modesty begins in the heart, it’s time to consider what it means for our wardrobe. What’s a modest girl to wear? Once again, let’s turn to our 1 Timothy 2:9 passage. Here Paul instructs the women to clothe themselves in “respectable apparel.”
Now let me set your mind at ease. Adorning ourselves in “respectable apparel” doesn’t mean we must restrict ourselves exclusively to cheap, out of style, unattractive clothing. Paul is not saying that gold or pearls or braiding are forbidden. In fact, you will find other places in Scripture where godly women wore fine clothing and jewelry.
For example, the Proverbs 31 woman – who is put forth in the Bible as a model for biblical womanhood – wore colorful, high-quality clothing (Pr. 31:22). We read where the bride in Song of Solomon adorned her appearance with jewelry (S of S 1:10). We are told that Esther underwent 12 months of beauty treatments – 6 months with oil of myrrh and 6 with perfumes and cosmetics (Es. 2:12).
So we are not to take this verse to mean that godly women should try as hard as they can to be out of style and unattractive. No! Quite the opposite. God is the creator of beauty. God delights in beauty. All we need to verify this fact is to consider the beauty He created all around us: whether it is an elegant flower, or towering trees, or a meandering river, or billowy clouds or the majestic night sky. Every time we stop to take in one of these breathtaking scenes on display in God’s creation, we can’t help but be convinced that He delights in beauty!
And because we are created in the image of our Creator, each of us has this propensity to make things beautiful. That means, when we decorate our homes, or plant a lovely flower garden, or seek to add some form of beauty to our surroundings, even when we attempt to enhance our personal appearance – we are actually imitating and delighting in the works of our Great Creator.
Now granted, these activities can be sinfully implemented; but still, we must not overlook the fact that the essence of our desire to beautify comes from God. John Angell James in his book, Female Piety (first published in 1860), offers this helpful thought:
This taste [for beauty], however in many cases it may be altogether corrupted in its object, wrong in its principle, or excessive in its degree, is in its own nature an imitation of the workmanship of God, who, “by his Spirit has garnished the heavens,” and covered the earth with beauty.
Now hopefully we have convincing proof that our desire to enhance our appearance isn’t wrong, that “respectable apparel” does not have to be dowdy or out of style. So what exactly does Paul mean by “respectable apparel”? We’ll consider the answer to that question as our series continues.