Living with Modesty
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 is found in a section of the book dealing with practical applications of the Christian lifestyle which Paul had advocated throughout the letter. Beginning in chapter 4, verse 1, he had admonished them to:
- Stand firm in the Lord (1)
- Assist two women to find agreement in the Lord (2-3)
- Rejoice in the Lord (4)
- Exhibit graciousness (5)
- Pray instead of worrying (6-7)
- Focus their thinking on things that were morally excellent (8).
In doing these things, they would experience the peace of God (vs. 7) and His presence (vs. 9).
Vince Lombardi was the long-time coach of the Green Bay Packers professional football team. When he became the coach of the Packers, he constantly repeated his mantra: “run to daylight.” By that he meant that the running backs were to look for an opening in the other team’s defense and run through it.
Lombardi was also known for saying, “the best defense is a good offense.” Is that principle applicable to the Christian life? Undoubtedly it is! Those who think positively will be more apt to succeed in their walk with the Lord than those who do not because they will adopt positive actions that will please Him.
In Philippians 4:8, the Apostle Paul zeroed in on some things believers should set their minds on—to think about to the point that they affect their Christian life. One of the words he mentions is pure. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says the word means “properly clean, i.e. (figurative) innocent, modest, perfect :- chaste, clean, pure.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Abingdon Press, 1980, p. 6). Though the Bible is not a fashion guide, it is a guide for the Christian life-style. A Christian, whether male or female, should think and dress modestly.
I. The modest person will stay away from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:22).
Some things are obviously wrong. Some things may not be so obvious but they give the appearance of evil. A believer is to stay away from both so their testimony is not jeopardized. The word translated stay away from “is a strong word that means ‘to hold oneself away from.’ The emphasis is on the believer’s complete avoidance of any evil teaching or behavior” (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Moody Press, p. 199). Albert Barnes comments: “Not only from evil itself, but from that which seems to be wrong (Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical, WordSearch 9, Austin, TX).
The Life Application New Testament Commentary adds: “Paul did not mean that believers must literally withdraw from the world, for to do so would mean that they could not shed the light of Christ so that more might come to him. Believers can, however, make sure that they don’t give evil a foothold by avoiding tempting situations and concentrating on obeying God” (WordSearch 9 Bible Software, Austin, TX).
II. The modest person will be a good example (Titus 2:7).
A Christian should set the right example to other believers and to the world. “The word ‘pattern’ (tupos) literally means to make an impression with a die, to mould or form, to strike an impression” (Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary – The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Thimothy, Titus, Philemon, WordSearch Bible Software, Austin, TX). John MacArthur says, “Tupos (example) literally refers to a mark or impression left by an instrument such as a pen, a sword, or a hammer” The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Moody Press, p. 92). How a believer dresses will leave an impression, either positive or negative, on others..
In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul says, “… you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Though this was written to Timothy as a pastor, the principle applies to every believer. The person who is modest will set the right kind of example for others to see and follow. They will make the right impression by the manner in which they dress, as well as by the way they act.
III. The modest person will practice self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
One aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Like facets of a diamond, each word Paul includes is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. They all work together to produce the right kind of behavior. Barclay says, “Self-control; the word is egkrateia which Plato uses of self-mastery. It is the spirit which has mastered its desires and its love of pleasure. It is used of the athlete’s discipline of his body (1Cor 9:25) and of the Christian’s mastery of sex (1Cor 7:9). Secular Greek uses it of the virtue of an Emperor who never lets his private interests influence the government of his people. It is the virtue which makes a man so master of himself that he is fit to be the servant of others” [William Barclay, Daily Study Bible (NT), The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, Westminster Press, p. 52].
Vicki Courtney, in an article entitled Sexy Too Soon, asks the question: “Have you shopped for girls’ clothing lately? Toddlers to teens are inundated with adult fashions. Pop singer Beyonce now has her own clothing line that introduces the red-light district to the school lunchroom.
“Popular clothing items among teens include thong underwear and shorts displaying suggestive words across the backside. The abundance of racy clothing emphasizes the message: Dress sexy” (Sexy Too Soon, Focus On the Family).
Courtney also makes the point later in the article that teenagers are often being unduly influenced by their parents who “fret over physical appearance or enjoy media laden with sexual images.”
The question is: Are you living with modesty?