Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Woman's Great Loveliness

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss with some counter-cultural beauty tips.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: A woman's greatest loveliness comes through a modest heart, and a modest heart expresses itself in modest behavior, modest dress, modest reactions, and modest attitudes.

Leslie Basham: Welcome to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, June 8.

What comes to mind when you hear the word, modesty? Nancy is going to help us get rid of old misconceptions and paint a fresh picture of this ancient concept. Here she is, continuing in a series called The Attractive Christian Woman.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Are you a modest woman? What do we mean by that? What does it mean to be a modest woman? We've been studying together 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and talking about the appearance, the attitudes, and the actions that God wants us to have as Christian women.

Let me say, by the way, what I am saying for women applies equally to young women, to girls. We have some high-school girls sitting here today, and I'm so thankful that you are here. How I wish that I had learned some of these things better when I was your age!

I wouldn't (and I see some kids nodding) be struggling to the degree that I am, probably, in some of these issues, if I had had more understanding as a teenage young woman of what it meant to have a modest heart.

We've seen that the apostle Paul says that if we are women who profess to know Christ—we profess to be godly, we make a profession of faith—that we are to demonstrate that, and we will demonstrate that in our outward appearance, the way that we dress.

We talked in the last session about women adorning themselves in respectable apparel. That means orderly and decent, well-arranged and appropriate. That has to do with the way that we dress, which hopefully is a reflection of a well-ordered heart.

Now he is going to go on and talk in verse 9 about not just our apparel or appearance but also our attitudes. He says, "I want women to be adorned with modesty and self-control."

If you have the New American Standard Bible, it says "modestly and discreetly." In the New International Version it says "with decency and propriety." And then I like the King James Version because it's intriguing, one of the words it uses. It says women should be adorned "with shamefacedness and sobriety." Then the English Standard Version that I am using says with "modesty and self-control."

So let's start there. What do these words mean? These are two heart attitudes that are to characterize a woman's approach to her appearance and a woman's attitudes when she comes to worship. Today we will look at the word modesty and in the next session we’ll look at the word self-control.

Now we don't hear the word modesty a lot of today. It is a word that probably conjures up some negative images in the minds of a lot of people today. Let me just say that we need to get rid of all those images because those are misconceptions of a word that is a beautiful word.

A woman's greatest loveliness comes through a modest heart; and a modest heart expresses itself in modest behavior, modest dress, modest reactions, and modest attitudes.

Let me share with you some insights about what it means to be modest. It comes from the Greek word (and we've been having a little Greek lesson this week) aidos. Aidos is the word that means "propriety, decency."

It's a word that has some element of bashfulness—bashfulness toward men, or modesty in our approach toward God in the sense of awe and reverence. It's a woman who doesn't just throw herself into a situation. She doesn't just disrespectfully come into the presence of God. She is modest in her approach to God and to others.

The word has to do with modesty mixed with humility. There is a humble attitude seen here, and at the core of this word aidos is an idea of shame—not in a negative sense but in a positive sense.

It's talking about a woman who is a godly woman who would be ashamed if anything about her attitudes or her dress were ever to cause dishonor to Christ or were ever to cause a distraction to other believers, or worse yet, were ever to cause men to sin in their thought life or in their morals.

That's the concept of shamefacedness. She knows how to blush. She knows how to be appropriately embarrassed. A woman who is modest is not comfortable when people are talking indiscreetly, when they are talking about private sexual matters in public. A modest woman isn't comfortable with that, and certainly she doesn't talk that way herself. She is discreet. She is reserved.

In fact, listen to some of these dictionary definitions of the word modest or modesty. It means having "a moderate estimation of one's talents, abilities, and value." You see humility there. You see yourself as you really are.

It means "a disinclination to call attention to one's self." To be modest, according to the dictionary, means "to show reserve or propriety in speech, in dress, and in behavior." It's to be free from showiness or ostentation.

That's where you have to get before the Lord and say, "Is my clothing, my jewelry, my demeanor, my manner, my speech—is it modest? Does it show proper reserve? Is it free from showiness or ostentation?"

When I think of this dictionary definition, I think of the opposite of it in the Proverbs 7 woman. It says she is "loud and boisterous" (verse 11). She is not a modest woman. In fact, the opposite of modesty in a way is vanity—a woman who is proud, a woman who is showing off her wares, her treasures, her clothing, her wealth, her affluence. She is flaunting her affluence. She is not modest.

This word has the concept of rejecting anything that would be displeasing to the Lord or that could cause someone else to sin. A person who is modest believes what Jesus said when He said, "It is better to be dead than to cause another believer to sin" (See Matthew 18:6). 

So as I get dressed in the morning and as I prepare my heart in the morning, I want to ask, "Am I being clothed with modesty? Does my outward appearance demonstrate modesty?"

Let me ask you some questions that I was just thinking about that maybe will help apply this matter and ask, "Am I a modest woman?"

  • Do I wear respectable clothing, clothing that is orderly, decent, that doesn't cause distraction or temptation to others?
  • Do I have a humble view of myself?
  • Do I have a high view of God?
  • Am I guilty of advertising or promoting myself? If I am guilty of advertising or guilty of promoting myself, I am not a modest woman. I don't have a modest heart.
  • Am I appropriately reserved in the way I talk, in my speech? Or do I talk too much? Most of us as women have to wrestle with that one. The answer for most of us is yes, we do talk too much.

I was with two women for dinner the other night who were colleagues in Revive Our Hearts. I hadn't been with them for a long time, and we had a lovely dinner together.

But I said to someone afterwards, "I talked too much." I was babbling. I was in my study for (I don't mean to make excuses, but I guess I am) hours and days and I came out just talking a mile a minute and talking a lot about myself and my work and what's happening here at Revive Our Hearts.

After the dinner I felt a little . . . I mean, we had a great time, but there was a check in my heart that I just said too much. And the person I said it to said, "Did you sin?"

I said, "You know, I probably did."

I don't know if those women thought I did, but the Scripture says, "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking" (Proverbs 10:19, NKJV). To talk too much is not modest. It is not moderate. It is not temperate to have to be the life of the party or the center of attention, to be boisterous,  is not moderate or modest.

Are you appropriately reserved in your dress, in your behavior? Are you free from showiness, from ostentation? Are you unobtrusive? Or are you the opposite? Here are some of the opposite words. Too forward. Arrogant. Aggressive. Controlling. Domineering.

You don't have to have loud volume to be all those things. Let me ask you as moms in your homes, teenage girls in your homes, do you come across as controlling, as bossy, as domineering? That is not modest. Are you disinclined to call attention to yourself?

The Lord has been really speaking to me about this recently. I am so blessed to have prayer partners and friends who love me and who pray for me. People are always asking me, "How are you doing? How is it going? How can I pray for you? How is Revive Our Hearts doing?" And I am so thrilled for their interest.

But you know what I found is, as a result, so much of my conversation is about me and what I'm interested in and what has been happening in my life.

The Lord has been challenging me about this. If I have a modest heart, when I go into a conversation, I am going to think, “How can I be a blessing to that person? How can I ask them about their interests, about what is going on in their life?” 

I'm starting more to evaluate conversations in this way. Did we talk about me in this whole conversation? Or did we talk about what is of interest to that other person. That is modest.

Shamefacedness. Are you grieved at the thought of offending God or causing someone else to sin? That's the result of a modest heart. Do you have a hatred for sin? Are you intentional about doing everything you can to avoid causing another person to sin, in your dress, in your speech, in your demeanor? That's what flows out of a modest heart.

Leslie Basham: Did you ever realize all that goes into modesty? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping us recognize a truly modest heart. She will be right back to pray.

It’s easy to hear good information on a radio program, only to click it off and never think about it again. So we hope you'll dig deeper on today's topic.

To help you do that we've put together "The Attractive Christian Woman Package." It includes two of Nancy’s booklets. One is called The Look and the other is Becoming a Woman of Discretion. These will help you apply biblical ideas of modesty to your own closet.

When you order "The Attractive Christian Woman Package," you’ll also get a copy of Nancy’s current series on CD. You can order for a suggested donation of $25 or more by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

As this series unfolds you might discover a whole new appreciation for modesty. We would love for you to write and tell us about it. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and click on “Contact”.

Nancy says that purity and self-control walk hand-in-hand. She’ll tell you what that means on tomorrow’s broadcast. Now she’s back to pray.

Nancy: O Lord, I don't know that I could say that I am really a modest woman. As I have done the study, You've shown me areas where I am really not modest, and I confess that to You, Lord.

And I just say, "I want to be a woman with a modest heart, a woman who is temperate, a woman who is moderate in my speech, in my dress, in my behavior, all of that flowing out of a heart that is modest toward You."

Lord, help us to adorn ourselves as Christian women with a spirit of modesty, that beautiful spirit that is of such great price to You. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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