Let me first begin by defining the word "inspire". According to Webster's 1828 dictionary, the word inspire means:
INSPI'RE, v.i. [L. inspiro; in and spiro, to breathe.]
To draw in breath; to inhale air into the lungs; opposed to expire.
INSPI'RE, v.t. To breathe into.
1. To infuse by breathing.
He knew not his Maker, and him that inspired into him an active soul.
2. To infuse into the mind; as, to inspire with new life.
3. To infuse or suggest ideas or monitions supernaturally; to communicate divine instructions to the mind. In this manner, we suppose the prophets to have been inspired, and the Scriptures to have been composed under divine influence or direction.
4. To infuse ideas or poetic spirit.
5. To draw into the lungs; as, to inspire and expire the air with difficulty.
To be inspired is to receive life. When God created Adam, He essentially "inspired" Him when He breathed the breath of life into his lungs and he became a living spirit (Genesis 2:7). My prayer with this article is to breathe life into your hunger for God and the expression of that hunger through modesty.
In 1 Timothy 2:9, we find the only mention of the actual word "modest" in the Bible in the King James Version. "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;"
Interestingly, Paul directs the thought of modesty to women only. Now, I'm not indicating that I think it's appropriate for men to expose their bodies or dress immodestly. Only that in the "inspired" Word of God, the Lord directed Paul to direct the only mention of the word modest to we ladies. When we follow the rule of first mention in the Bible, we can take that something big is coming on to the scene that God wants us to pay attention to. When I consider that God had this verse penned just for me, a woman, I want to look deeper.
The Greek word for modest in this verse is, "kosmios" which means, "well arranged, seemly, modest". The word for apparel is "katastolē" which means, "1) a lowering, letting down 2) a garment let down, dress, attire". It's worth mentioning that the Greek word "katastolē", is indeed a FEMININE noun...
So, why does God put the emphasis on us? Why is it so necessary that a woman dress herself in a well arranged, seemly, and modest manner? It is because God has ordained for us to be the keepers of our homes. It is because He has set us in our families to be watchmen on the wall. He has called us to be teachers of good things. And He has called us to set an example that is so elevated above this world, that the Word of God would not in any way be blasphemed (Titus 2:4).
A woman's body is so precious in the sight of God. It has value and worth in so many ways. A woman's body is a powerful tool that can be used for great good or can be used to bring about great destruction. Think of the men in the Bible who were brought down by the shape and form of a woman's body (David with Bathsheba, King Ahab with Jezebel, King Herod with the daughter of Herodias, etc.). In contrast, think of the women in the Bible who presented themselves in modesty and the powerful things they accomplished for the Kingdom of God (Mary, Esther, the judge Deborah, etc.)
We can see that a woman holds great power in the form of her body. This is why the word of God implores us not to highlight and accentuate every feature and curve with much plaiting of our hair and gold, and costly array. We're not being told that we must be frumpy and dumpy to be modest and holy, but simply to use our clothing to highlight the hidden man of the heart. When people look on us they should be affected by our inner man, not by the curves of our shape.
At the beginning of verse 9, it begins by saying, "In like manner also..." Let's back up to verse 8 and see exactly how we are to carry out this modest way of dressing:
"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." We approach modest dressing as a form of worship of our Heavenly Father. In Romans 12:1, we're instructed to present our bodies a living sacrifice, HOLY and ACCEPTABLE unto God. So each day, without wrath and without doubting, we dress our bodies to be presented as living sacrifices.
So, in practicality, what does "seemly, modest, well arranged" clothing look like? I have a few guideline that I get dressed by everyday that I will share with you in closing.
1. Modesty is beautiful and I will celebrate it, not drudge through it.
My first rule keeps modesty in perspective and makes it a fun challenge everyday to flee evil and cling to what is good. If I keep a smile on my face while I'm doing this, I'll make any outfit look cute because of my joyful expression.
2. Modesty is fun and funky!
How easy is it to follow the crowd and just wear stuff off the rack? Dressing modestly makes you THINK about what you're going to wear so it can really bring out your creative side.
3. If in doubt, COVER UP!
If when I look at myself in the mirror and say, "is this truly modest?" the answer is NO! If you have any doubts about whether you're being modest or not, what's the harm in layering up with a high necked tee or a longer skirt underneath? Get bold with a funky new style and when in doubt, COVER UP!
4. My collar bone is more than enough.
I learned from a Jewish friend that in Judaism, modesty is very important as well. Remember in orthodox Judaism, married women still cover their heads at all times. Anyway, he told me that their rule of thumb is that the collar bone is the line for shirt collars. In their law, anything beneath that is considered part of the breast area (ask any doctor, they'll tell you that's true). So, it's to be covered and protected. Makes sense to me! Now, not many cute tops follow this strict guideline, but a few basic ones do. So, I have a drawer full of tees and sleeveless tops for making unacceptable shirts fit right in to my modest wardrobe.
5. My behind is for me to know and you never to find out
I'm not a fan of seeing other people's behinds. Sounds crazy but it's true. In light of that, I figure I'd better keep mine to myself too. That means I go as far as wearing long tops and a lot of skirts to keep my behind to myself. If I wear slacks jeans, or capris (I LOVE CAPRIS in summer - shorts are relegated to mowing the yard at home ONLY), I wear a tunic length top to keep covered up. Sound extreme? Maybe so but I'm clinging to good and RUNNING from evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, 2 Timothy 2:21-22).
Let me give you one more scripture to close out this exhortation. Keep this in the midst of your heart and you will not sin against our Heavenly Father in your modest apparel (Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 4:20-22):
1 Corinthians 6:18-20
"18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."