March 11, 2014
"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." 1 Timothy 2:9
I need a good pair of jeans. Wait--correct that--I want a good pair of jeans. Not an expensive pair of jeans. Just a pair of good ol' denim comfort. My nearly-one-year-post-baby body has yet to return to its previous size but my postpartum wardrobe fails to fit either. What's a mama to wear?
A fashionista I am not (as many of you nod your head in agreement). I want to look nice but I find it hard to loosen my purse strings enough to shell out money for anything other than basic wardrobe components. Two weeks ago I ventured into a popular store for the first time only to find myself blinded by the display lights and sparkleliness of the store's offerings. I believe makeup and jewelry and accessories and dressing nicely are fine things to do; American culture somewhat commands it. But Scripture tells me of another fashion trend to which I can chose to adhere.
Paul's instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:9 is not an exclusive command toward extreme propriety. Nor is Paul's instruction to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 an exclusive command with regards to the length of women's hair. Paul's main concern in both instances in Scripture is the heart of God's people, specifically the women of God.
"The Lord doesn’t see things the way [we] see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Paul encouraged the women to refrain from rebelling against cultural norms, to resist the desire to draw attention to themselves but to instead focus on drawing attention to God.
One commentary notes, "It would be well if the professors of serious godliness were wholly free
from vanity in dress. They should spend more time and money in
relieving the sick and distressed, than in decorating themselves and
their children" (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on 1 Timothy 2:9).
That stung a bit.
Please understand, I am not suggesting a return to long sleeves, floor length dresses, hair buns, bobby pins and make-up-free faces. However, reading the words of the elderly commentator caused me to reflect on the desires of my heart. Do I desire to maintain the latest fashion trends for myself and for my children more than I desire to help the needy and the poor?
Paul proceeds to explain to Timothy that godly women have another option when it comes to making themselves attractive. 1 Timothy 2:10 reads, "For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do." Proverbs 31:25 says that the noble woman clothes herself with strength and dignity and can laugh at the days to come.
What a relief! Its okay that the latest fashion trends escape my closet. I desire to present my best self before the Lord, yes. But God cares more for how I serve others than He cares about what I wear.
As John describes the great marriage feast which awaits believers in Heaven he says of the bride (which is you and me), "it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints" (Revelation 19:8).
Good deeds do not grant us passage into Heaven. Only faith in the provisions of Christ Jesus guarantee us an invitation to the great wedding banquet. However, if we spend our time serving orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27) and alleviating the needs of the poor and the afflicted (Isaiah 58:10), God will clothe us with the finest fashions for all of eternity.