Do "Modesty" and "Holiness" go together?

…Not “holiness” as in a “holier-than-thou” kind of attitude, but holiness and the pursuit of holiness as a way of life?

As I’ve pondered and prayed over this question, it seems that the answer is “yes”.  The next questions, then, become: What exactly is modesty? And How can we American Christians live modest/holy lives in the midst of the American Culture?

When I hear the word modesty, my mind immediately connects it with the way we women dress.  But modesty is so much more than that. 
In Luke 9, Jesus sent the disciples out into “real life” to live and work and be His vessels to witness to those around them.  And in His instructions to them, he urged them to modesty.
[ Keep It Simple ] Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick. He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, leave town. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on.”  Luke 9:1-3, The Message
According to this passage, modesty is “keeping it simple” – because “you are the equipment” Jesus intends to use to make a difference in the world.
We could head in a million directions from here in this little blog offering, but the reason that holiness and modesty are swirling around in my heart especially lately is because: 1.  I have a teenage daughter, AND a teenage son – both of whom this issue affects. 2.  I read this blog post on a man’s perspective of modesty recently, and 3.  It’s swimsuit buying season again.  Need I say more???
I want to make sure that the Walkers are keeping a healthy definition of modesty in the forefront of our minds and lives. How about you?  So, how is this for an instruction toward modest living?

Modesty – Keeping it simple, because you’re the equipment Jesus uses. 

I like that definition.  It applies to modesty in all areas of living… and dressing.  Does this mean that we can’t have nice things or wear pretty clothes and shiny jewelry?  Absolutely NOT!  I’ll be the first one to tell you (in fact, I did just last week in this blog post) that I’m all into celebrating what God has created by adorning it!  I don’t think that modesty means that we can’t have non-simple things… we are just not to focus on them and depend on them for our value and worth and availability for God’s use in this world.  And I think it means that whatever it is that we do have – we are to make sure that it is presented in a way that God can use for good!
1 Timothy 2:8-10 gives us a little more insight into this definition of modesty:
“And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.  For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”  1 Timothy 2:9-10,  New Living Translation (Emphasis, mine)
Paul encouraged the women to adorn and decorate their lives by the beauty in how they lived.  That’s modesty.
Peter said the same thing in 1 Peter 3:3-4
Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes; But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.”  1 Peter 3:3-4, Amplified Version   (Emphasis, mine)

[merely]  I love that word in there.  It tells us that we CAN elaborately weave our hair, etc (PTL!) as long as that is not all that we do in the name and strength of Jesus to make ourselves beautiful.  Make sense?
All of that above was to say what’s next – and I’m probably about to step on some toes.  Dear friends, I certainly don’t mean to offend anyone, but with a quickly-beating heart that is dropping into my stomach over the issue at hand, I am humbly typing what I feel led by the Holy Spirit to step out and say:
This summer, please don’t dress in a way that would cause the men and boys around you to stumble.

And moms, please don’t let your daughters dress in this way – no matter how stylish it is! 

I’m talking about plunging necklines that show cleavage.

Shorts so short that they could double as underwear.

Skirts so short that there is no way to sit and keep underwear from showing.

Tops tight enough that they look like an extra layer of skin.

And bathing suits that leave almost nothing to the imagination.

Dressing this way does not honor you, your daughter, or Jesus.  In fact, it is screaming for the wrong kind of attention and sending the completely wrong message – a message that you or your daughters are not even intending on sending.

A good rule of thumb to use in dressing modestly is this: 

If it makes you feel “sexy,”  then save it for the privacy of your own home.  Don’t wear it in public or around anyone of the opposite sex other than your HUSBAND.  (Not your boyfriends or “friends that are like brothers”.  This is torture to them.)

Within the boundaries of marriage, sexy is to be celebrated!  But outside of those boundaries, it does not honor Jesus and will not be blessed by Him.

I certainly do not advocate being a dull, boring “prude”!  Anyone who knows me personally and has spent any time with me at all can tell you that I’m all about celebrating and enjoying all aspects of life.  In fact, so was Jesus.  He told His disciples in John 10:10 that He came to give life, and to give it abundantly!  But He also set up some boundaries for us to be able to fully enjoy that abundant life.  And modesty is one of them.

To check and see if what you are doing, wearing, and saying is that of a modest and holy follower of Jesus, always ask and answer this question:

Does what I’m wearing/doing/saying honor and bless the Lord (Can I honestly thank Him that I am doing, wearying, or saying this?) OR Does what I’m doing, wearing, or saying cause others or myself to stumble and possibly fall into sin?

You’ll know by the answer to the question and the conviction of the Holy Spirit whether you should do, wear, or say
it or not. 

Modesty – Keeping it simple, because you’re the equipment Jesus uses.

This is a little Modesty checklist from Dannah Gresh’s ministry.  Check out her site for this and other resources!

Jesus wants to shine through us to draw the world to Himself.  If something we are doing, wearing, or saying is causing others to stumble and sin, let’s not do it, wear it, or say it. The rewards of honoring God are far worth giving up a low cut blouse or skimpy swim suit, aren’t they?
Modesty – Keeping it simple, because you’re the equipment Jesus uses.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

So, back to my original question: Do Modesty and Holiness go together?  I think so. 

What do you think?

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at