Modesty – What is it?
Modesty is a human characteristic which may alternately be viewed as a virtue or a weakness. How it is viewed ultimately depends on your perspective. There are several definitions for modesty in most dictionaries; it is most often rendered as humility, shyness, or simplicity. In today’s society any of these definitions of modesty may be seen as negative since we often focus on self; self esteem, self respect, and self expression.
Nevertheless, a modest individual can be seen as a person possessing positive characteristics. Humility need not be a deficit; one who recognizes their own strengths and weaknesses who has become comfortable with him or herself will feel no competition with others. They are content to interact with others fully cognizant of who they are, functioning within the boundaries of their own capabilities, or limitations, with confidence. One who lives and behaves in simplicity quietly performs daily tasks and routines without the trumpet blown before. There is no need to call attention. Modesty acts gently, but with no less perfection or care as one who may constantly announce their deeds.
In this article, we are not talking favorably of the so-called "modesty" that is forced on women in many countries or religions. We wholeheartedly condemn such oppression. This article is written for women who have the freedom to dress modestly as a source of conviction.
Modesty – Modest in Apparel
Young women often ask, “Is it possible to dress with modesty?” Yes, it is. Consider this modesty test that is detailed even further in the book Every Young Woman’s Battle.
- Are any of your tops so sheer that others can see your bra or so low-cut, allowing cleavage to show? Do your shirts reveal your abdomen or back? Do any of your shirts have sexually suggestive slogans (such as “sexy” or “flirt”)?
- Do you have to suck in your stomach to zip any of your paints? Do any of your jeans ride so low that your underwear can be seen?
- Do any of your skirts ride excessively high above the knee when you are seated? Do any of the slits come too far up your leg?
These reminders of modesty also apply to men like no other time in history.
As you get dressed, evaluate what you plan to wear. Wear items that will make it easier for guys to treat you with dignity and respect.
Modesty – Modesty in Life
We can also display modesty in life. Quietness, humility, and simplicity are values to be grasped and sought after. The Bible even talks about this. Colossians 3:12 says, “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
A life of modesty is lived towards God and each other. Towards God, we recognize Him as the source of all our gifts, abilities, and strength. We know that we can do nothing apart from Him, that we are fully dependent upon Him for everything we need. As a result we acknowledge Him in every undertaking fully trusting His wisdom, that He will always do what is best for us. Towards each other we show our modesty by honoring others before ourselves.
We do not fight and compete but willingly allow others to have the place of prominence. Philippians 2:3 says, “Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.” We must be confident that our own abilities will open any necessary door for us and so quietly, give ourselves to the pursuit of excellence. Christians are representatives for Christ wherever they go, in whatever they do. When we excel we glorify God who gave us our ability. 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?”
Modesty – Obtaining It
Modesty may be obtained by adopting the mindset of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.”
Most people do not naturally possess an attitude of modesty as characterized by humility and simplicity. We instinctively seek recognition and attention. We want others to honor us for who we are and what we have done. However, if we follow after Christ as His disciples, we will divest ourselves of all self-seeking and submit ourselves to God. Living a life of modesty is a personal determination. We purposefully set out to be content, patiently waiting for God to give the promised rewards, which do come, even in this life. God is faithful; He sees all that we do. Contrary to the modern belief that we allow ourselves to become doormats and castoffs, those who honor God and live humbly before Him have His promise upon which to depend. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.”
1 Every Young Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Mind, Heart, and Body by Shannon Ethridge and Steven Arterburn. Published by Waterbrook Press, 2004.
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