Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Reflecting God's Glory

Leslie Basham: When we’re shopping for clothes, there are more important things to consider than color and price. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What is your heart motive? What is your heart attitude? Is it humble? Is it modest? Or are you trying to flaunt your wealth, flaunt your beauty, or even worse, to allure men sexually?

Leslie Basham: It’s Monday, June 12, and this is Revive our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

There’s even more about what will make you truly attractive at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com . But today we’ll see that our outward appearance can reveal the inward desires of our heart. Do we want to glorify ourselves or reflect God’s glory? Here’s Nancy to discuss it in a series called The Attractive Christian Woman.

Nancy: We’re going to look today at one of those very, very practical, specific portions of God’s Word—one of the ones that has also been a subject of much controversy and debate and, I think, misunderstanding as well.

So if you have your Bible, let me encourage you to open it to 1 Timothy 2. This week we’re walking “where angels fear to tread.” Those of you who have been listening to Revive our Hearts for any length of time know that we’re not afraid of controversy here because we feel our calling is to help women be counter-cultural.

Wherever the culture goes contrary to the Word of God, we want to challenge women to have the courage and the faith to say no to the culture and to say yes to God. All of us together are wanting to pursue this pathway of godliness, and this passage gives us some very practical help in how to do that.

We’re talking here in the immediate context about the way women are supposed to conduct themselves at church. But in the broader context of the whole Word of God, we’re really talking about how women are supposed to conduct themselves period.

I love how balanced the Scripture is. He talks to us in these two verses alone about our apparel, our clothing, the way we dress, our appearance; he talks about our attitudes; and he talks about our actions.

We looked in the last few days at this matter of apparel, where the apostle says that women should adorn themselves with respectable apparel. That’s with proper clothing—that their outward appearance should be well-ordered. It should be decent. It should be proper.

And let me say, I do think that phrase speaks somewhat to some of the current fashions that have to do with just being really, really sloppy. Grunge is what they used to call it. I don’t know what they call it today.

Do I think this is the most important thing to God? No. Do I think it matters to God? Yes. And it’s passages like this that say that to me.

It is fashionable today for women—and not just women, guys as well—to wear clothing that, the more beat up, the more torn up, the more ragged looking, the more sloppy looking, the better. I think that says something about our culture that’s not a compliment.

Now, does that mean that we always have to go out looking “fit to kill” and just looking like the picture of elegance and loveliness? No. There are times when it’s appropriate to be more casual.

So that’s what the apostle is saying here. “Clothe yourselves in a way that is becoming, fitting for your profession of godliness.” What is godliness? Being like God. You see, we’re giving the world an impression of God. What are we saying by our outward physical appearance to people who can’t see God? They’re getting their image (view) of God from us.

So the apostle has said, “It should be respectable apparel, and the heart attitude with which you adorn yourself should be one of modesty and self-control.” We’ve talked about those two heart attitudes in the last couple of sessions.

Now Paul talks about another extreme that goes back to some more specifics about our apparel, and he says the opposite of what I’ve been talking about. “You’re supposed to be adorned with respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not (here’s a contrast) with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire.”

Now, there are some who have said that this means women should not wear jewelry, or that women should not ever wear nice clothes, or they should never fix their hair. There’s a similar passage in 1 Peter 3 that people often take to say the same thing (see verses 3-4).

I don’t believe that’s what the apostle is saying here at all. Think about the people to whom he was speaking. This was a church in Ephesus.

Ephesus was a wealthy, commercial city, and it appears that perhaps some of the women who were Christians in that city were becoming caught up in the latest fads, the latest styles. They were just decking themselves out, obsessed with competing with each other for attention. They did it by what they wore—just the latest, the best, the most expensive.

So the apostle is saying here, “In the matter of your adorning and your apparel, don’t get caught up in extremes.”

He’s not forbidding wearing clothes or jewelry. He’s saying, “Whatever you do, don’t let it be something that will draw people’s attention away from the Lord. Don’t let it be that when you walk into church, everybody is staring at your jewelry, or everybody’s staring at your particular outfit because it’s extreme, or it’s extremely expensive, or it’s gaudy, or it’s ostentatious. Don’t let your clothing be the center of attention.”

That has to do, by the way, with makeup as well—kosmeo—that’s the adorning; that’s the outward appearance. We have some women that you wonder what their face really looks like underneath all that paint.

He’s talking here about some specific practices they had in the New Testament era. Some of the women would do these very elaborate, intricate hairstyles, where they would have gold and pearls and other jewelry woven through their hairdos. I mean, they were spectacular! But everybody was talking about their hair, and it was distracting from worshiping God.

And then, some women would wear clothes that were so expensive that the people in their church who couldn’t afford that kind of clothing were envious. They were inciting other people to sin by the kind of clothing they wore.

That doesn’t mean that everyone has to be poor. It’s no sin to be poor. It’s no sin to spend money on clothing if God gives you the provision and the freedom to do that.

I read a quote by John Wesley that really spoke to me while I was studying this. I don’t have it right in front of me, but the effect of it was, “If you spend one shilling more than what God wants you to spend on your clothes, remember that you are stealing from money that God might have wanted you to give to the poor.” Isn’t that true?

He’s talking here about letting the attitude of modesty and self-control govern the way that you do your hair, the way that you dress. He’s not saying that pearls are wrong to wear, that it’s even wrong to have an expensive dress; but make sure in your buying that your motives are pure, that you’re not trying to draw attention to yourself, that you’re not putting other people in a position where you may set them up to sin by being seductive or by being distracting.

There was a fourth century church father—some of you are familiar with the name of Chrysostom—and here’s what he wrote:

What then is modest apparel? Such as covers them completely and decently, and not with superfluous ornaments, for the one is decent and the other is not.

What? Do you approach God to pray with broidered hair and ornaments of gold? Are you come to a ball? To a carnival? There such costly things might have been seasonable. Here, not one of them is wanted.

You are come to pray, to ask pardon for your sins, to plead for your offenses, beseeching the Lord and hoping to render Him propitious or merciful to you. Away with such hypocrisy.

In other words, he’s saying, “Let your external appearance reflect why you’ve come to church.” And why did you come to church?

  • Was it to get attention?
  • Was it to be the center of attraction?
  • What is your heart motive?
  • What is your heart attitude?
    • Is it humble?
    • Is it modest?
    • Or are you trying to flaunt your wealth, flaunt your beauty, or even worse, to allure men sexually?

A woman who’s focused on worshiping God is going to think carefully about how she dresses, and her heart is going to dictate her wardrobe and her appearance.

Paul closes this passage by saying, “Instead of being dressed in those outlandish, extreme styles or ornaments, instead adorn yourselves 'with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works:' a modest and self-controlled external appearance and modest attitudes and heart, but also with actions that are good."

All through the Scripture you’ll find that good works—acts of mercy—are a very important way for us as women to adorn ourselves: serving, caring for the physical needs of your husband and your children, when you share hospitality through your home, when you take a meal to a mom who’s just been through surgery, or when you help with the home schooling of a mom who’s got her hands full with several young ones.

When you extend yourself, your heart, and your hands in good works, you know what you’re doing? You’re adorning the gospel. You’re making Jesus believable. You’re reflecting a heart that is modest and pure and self-controlled. You’re reflecting the heart of Jesus.

So, in our appearance, in our attitudes, and in our actions—everything about us—nothing is insignificant. It all matters: the way you dress matters, the way you think matters, the way you talk matters.

Again let me say to you as young women, this is important for you teenage girls to cultivate now attitudes of modesty, attitudes of godliness. I promise that if you make that your curriculum, your study, your focus during your teenage years, you will find so much greater joy and blessing later on in your marriage and in your family than you ever dreamed possible.

So Paul says, “Be beautiful. Put on your cosmetics, kosmeo . Adorn yourselves, and here’s how you’re to do it: 'in respectable apparel, with 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.'”

Leslie Basham: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss helping us to think more about what we’re wearing and the reflection that it gives to others. If you’d like to dig deeper, we’ve put together “The Attractive Christian Woman Package."

In it you’ll learn what the Bible has to say about modesty. We’ve included two booklets, one called The Look, about modest clothing, and the other called Becoming a Woman of Discretion, on modest attitudes and actions, plus Nancy’s teaching on CD. And as always that includes some additional material from Nancy that we didn’t have time to put on the air.

“The Attractive Christian Woman Package" is yours when you make a donation of $25 or more to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts . Learn more when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com. If you prefer to give us a call, our phone number is 800-569-5959. We’d love to hear from you.

We hope that you’ll come back tomorrow when we continue in The Attractive Christian Woman series. Nancy will talk about how we can train our children in modesty. We hope you can join us.

And now, here’s Nancy to pray.

Nancy: O Father, how I pray that You would work this passage into our lives as women, that You would show us what areas need to be changed, even as You’ve been showing me in these last few days some areas where my life needs to be more modest, more self-controlled, to be a better picture of my profession of godliness. Help it to matter to us, because it matters to You that we would be good reflections of the gospel. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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

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