I've enjoyed doing this little series for Modesty Talk Monday and I hope that you have enjoyed it as well. I had another topic that I wanted to discuss today, but during my research on that topic I realized that we have missed something that is very important to our talks on modesty. We have never truly defined what modesty really is.
Is modesty just how you dress? Are there rules on what is modest and what is not? Should you cover certain things only and consider it modest? Is modesty wearing pants or skirts that come to or below your knee and wearing shirts that cover your cleavage?
I think it is obvious that we need to do a bit more study on what modesty really is.
The central passage for modesty that I like to use is in 1 Timothy 2:9-10. It says, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."
Context is key for this passage. In a nutshell, Paul was writing to Timothy about how the church runs. So we find this passage in the middle of that, therefore we conclude that this is specifically referring to how women should dress in the church, since the context is talking about the church. This is a very basic hermeneutic principle.
Now that we've concluded that the context shows that this is dealing with women in the church, let's dig into the Greek a little bit.
The word that we translate as "modest" in English is actually "kosmio" in the Greek. This is the dative singular feminine form of the word "kosmios", which can be translated as "orderly" or "virtuous", according to the Analytical Lexicon of New Testament Greek by Maurice A. Robinson and Mark A House. According to Strong, this word can also be translated as "well arranged", "seemly", or "modest".
So, according to the definition of this word, modesty is not so much "covering up" as it is being well arranged and orderly. Think more along the lines of appropriate, or put together.
Now again, we are specifically talking about the church setting. Paul describes how a woman should dress for worship. She should be orderly, well arranged, seemly, or modest. That is what modesty really is.
So what does that look like in everyday life?
Well, women should dress in a well arranged and orderly fashion to church is the most basic application we can take from this. We are not to dress sloppy and frumpy, but at the same time we are not to be super flashy and extravagant in our dress. We are to be modest; well arranged, orderly, or appropriate for the occasion.
Then how should we dress outside of church? I believe that we should still be modest and appropriate for the occasion, be orderly and well arranged. Why? Because of our testimony. Dress in ways that you know would be glorifying to God. And if He explains how to do it for church, don't you think it would please Him if you did it outside of church too? Just a thought for you to chew on.
I do encourage you to do more study into this topic on your own, it is very interesting and I know personally that it has cleared up a lot of questions in my mind! Modesty isn't tying you into some restrictions in style or trying to make your life boring and miserable, it is a guideline for how God wants us to dress. Isn't that refreshing?
Thanks for your time, I hope that this has cleared up some questions in your mind. I'll talk to you again soon, but until then, have a great week!