Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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A Woman's Greatest 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: This is Revive Our Hearts for Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, May 17.

Modesty involves more than just covering skin. Nancy began showing us that yesterday in the series, The Beauty of a Modest Heart. Today, we'll hear part 2.

Nancy: 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 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 heads 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." The New King James says “propriety and moderation.” And then I kind of 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. 

When we hear the word modesty, first of all, is a word you don’t hear a lot of today. It is a word that probably conjures up some negative images in the minds of a lot of people today. When we say modesty, many have the image of a woman who is kind of a school marm. She's dour and dowdy. She never smiles. She's got clothes up to her chin and down to her ankles and down to her wrist. She's very prim and proper and very old-fashioned, maybe frumpy. 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.

I've been studying this word modesty and there have been some wonderful commentaries written on it. Let me share with you some insights that I have picked up from various resources, study guides, and commentaries 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 throw herself onto men. 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." You don’t walk in a room and have to have everyone center around you. You know some people who just walk in the room and they are just the life of the party. There is nothing wrong with having an outgoing personality. This is a person, a modest woman, who is not trying to get people to notice her. She's not inclined to try and call attention to herself. 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.

When I think of those words showy or ostentatious, I can think of certain clothing styles, certain hairstyles that are extreme, that call attention to themselves. Certain kinds of jewelry—you know the first time you look you see the earrings. You can't even see her face, you're just noticing those humongous earrings.  What size earrings are immodest? I can't tell you that.

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" (v. 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 are 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 afterward, "I talked too much." 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: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of today's program. She's been helping you develop a thorough biblical understanding of modesty. Today's program is part of a series called, The Beauty of a Modest Heart. To read the transcript, listen to the audio, or to get a copy on CD, just visit  Nancy is back with the next mark of a modest heart: self-control.

Nancy: We're studying this week one of the most counter-cultural passages in all of God's Word for us, as women. Let me ask you to turn, if you would, to 1 Timothy 2:9-10. We've talked about how the context of this passage is first in teaching men. In verse 8 it tells men how they're supposed to behave at church and how they're supposed to provide spiritual leadership for the Body of Christ. Then verses 9 and 10 tell women how to behave themselves in the family of God.

Paul says, "Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel." That has to do with our attire, our appearance. It should be respectable, decent, well-ordered, well-arranged. Then he says it should be with a heart attitude of "modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works."

In those two little verses, the apostle was talking to us. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, was talking about our appearance, our attitudes, and our actions. Look at this word self-control. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. As He controls us, He will produce this heart attitude in us. It's a word that means "moderation." Some of the translations say sobriety, and it means "soundness of mind." It's a Greek word, as we're having a little Greek lesson this week. It means "soundness of mind." It means "mental sanity, self-control."

It's a picture of someone who's not extravagant, not outlandish, not extreme but who willingly, willfully chooses to restrain their sinful desires by the power of the Holy Spirit. They choose not to exhibit their pride through ostentatious clothing or extreme styles. It's a woman who is willing to limit her own liberty and to demonstrate a restrained, self-controlled life with proper restraints on all her passions and desires.

It speaks of a woman who exercises self-control over her sexual passions and exercises control over her demeanor and her dress and her attitudes and her way of dealing with men so that she doesn't excite inappropriately the passions of other men.

Now, it's one thing for you to excite the passions of your husband. That's appropriate. But to do it with other men, and we women do it in so many subtle ways. Flirting is a violation of this principle, this heart attitude of self-control. A flirtatious girl says, “What do I have to do to get your attention?” We see women today being so aggressive, throwing themselves on guys.

Some of you have sons at home who know what it's like to have these girls calling. I've had mothers say to me that as parents they say, “This is not allowed in our home.” I had a mom who recently said we've had to tell those girls who are calling, “This is not the way our sons do this. If he wants to talk to you, he will call you.”

Now that sounds so fuddy-duddy today. In fact, to most younger women today, that sounds like you're from another planet. It's not even on the radar screen of young women to think this way today. That's why we need to model it.

What does it mean to be self-controlled? What does it mean to be careful how we compliment men so as not to inappropriately express admiration for them?

I deal with this in ministry, I work with a lot of married men. God has blessed me with some wonderful, godly men around me in Revive Our Hearts and in our partner ministries. I so appreciate their hearts and their labors. I want to express a grateful spirit, but I always want to do it in a way that is appropriate, that is restrained. That way has to do with our speech, with our physical contact, with what we do with our bodies. It has to do with the way we use our eyes.

I tell you, I'll even be out walking and I’ll pass other joggers or walkers. Modesty and self-control teaches me not to look those men in the eyes. It teaches me to avert my glance. Now you don't have to be rude to do this. But it means you are not going to engage your soul or your spirit with a man who is not your husband. That takes self-control.

Today's women don't know what self-control is. They're just out there, just talking and doing and acting in ways that are not controlled at all. It's a result of not having a sound mind, not having a disciplined or controlled mind, not having common sense, not having a spiritual radar, as one writer said, that tells a person what is good and proper.

Isn't that what so many women are missing today? No spiritual radar. I see the way that some women get into trouble with men. I'm talking about women in the church. I say, "Where was your spiritual sense? How did you get in that situation?"

Now, I know flesh is flesh and temptation is always there. But I'll tell you what, if you have self-control, you'll find there are a whole lot of situations you'll never end up in because you've made wise, restrained choices on the front end—with your tongue, with your eyes, with your spirit, with your physical touch. Let's ask ourselves some questions and let God evaluate our hearts.

  • Am I a self-controlled woman?
  • Are you a self-controlled woman?
  • Do you have sound thinking?
  • Are you moderate and temperate in your eating habits, your drinking habits, your exercise habits?  

"Oh no. Now you've started meddling." Well, I'm just meddling where the Holy Spirit meddles with me. As I think about this quality, if I'm going to eat excessively, obsessively, in an out-of-control way, that's an evidence that I don't have this quality of self-control in my heart.

  • Is your tongue temperate?
  • Is your tongue controlled and restrained by the Spirit of God?
  • Are you one of those people that just blurts out whatever comes to your mind? You just say it. 

Oh, do we get in trouble that way as women. In your home is where this is so important because you're likely saying things in your home that you would never blurt out at church, out of anger or frustration. As a mom, as a wife, as a teenage gal, you need self-control when you're dealing with your family members.

  • Are you self-controlled in your use of time?
  • Are you prone to emotional outbursts, to anger, to temper?
  • Do you have command and discipline over your body and your physical appetites: food, sexually, morally, alcohol, drugs?
  • Are there any habits that enslave you, habits that are not godly habits?
  • Are you willing and able to restrain yourself from unnecessary extremes?
    • In the way you spend money?
    • In the kinds of clothes you buy?
    • In your work habits and doing chores around your home?
  • Are you disciplined to do the job when it needs to be done? Or are you like I am so many times, a perpetual procrastinator?
  • When you find yourself up against the deadline, do you throw everybody's life into a tizzy because you didn't have self-control over your schedule.
  • Are you restrained and appropriate in relationships with men? In your demeanor with men?  

You say, "This sounds like we can't have any fun. You've just got to be rigid, disciplined. Who likes that word?"

Let me tell you, the greatest freedom in life comes when we're under the control of the Holy Spirit. That's when you can really enjoy life. That's when you can enjoy healthy and wholesome relationships in the Body of Christ.

It's the women who have no self-control who are the ones who end up with their lives in a million pieces, sitting in a therapist's office, calling us saying, "Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall, is there anything you can do to put him back together again?"

A heart of self-control is what will bring freedom and joy and peace in your life. It will also help you to adorn the gospel and to make it believable.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing the beauty of self-control. That's just one of the characteristics that get at the heart of modesty. Today's program is part of a series called, The Beauty of a Modest Heart. To hear the entire series or order it on CD, just visit It's the kind of teaching that our listeners appreciate. Nancy is here with an example.

Nancy: Recently I received a note from a male listener in Canada. He said, “I know your ministry is geared toward women, but I am very encouraged by Revive Our Hearts. Sometimes things have looked very bleak, and your encouragement was there. I can't afford to support you, but you are in my prayers.”

I can't tell you how much those prayers of our listeners mean to me. We are absolutely powerless to do anything without the Lord's help. We so need our listeners to bring me and this ministry before the Lord.

Perhaps the Lord has you in a place where you can give to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. By making a contribution, you're helping us continue to encourage listeners like this man who are unable to support us. At some difficult seasons of his life, he has appreciated us being there for him. We're able to be there, thanks to listeners like you who support this ministry.

If you've never before sent a gift to Revive Our Hearts, would you begin this month?  Some friends of the ministry are doubling the gift of every new supporter during the month of May up to a challenge amount of $60,000. It's our prayer that we will not only meet that challenge, but far surpass it.

So whether or not you've connected with us before, if you support us this week, we want to say “thanks” by sending you the booklet, The Look. It will help you evaluate your wardrobe, and more importantly, your heart. It will help you learn to glorify God through both modest attitudes and modest clothing.

Your gift at this time will help us with the overall need of $350,000 in the month of May. You can make a contribution online by visiting us at, or you can give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. Be sure to ask for The Look when you make a gift of any size.

Leslie: What do you look for when shopping for clothing? Price? Color? Tomorrow, Nancy will help us think that through, continuing the series, The Beauty of a Modest Heart. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.