Gentle Jesus, Meek and Modest


What does Christian modesty look like?

I live in Southern California, and now that it’s almost summer, a familiar problem has returned: immodesty. Hebrews 4:15 informs us that our Savior has been tempted in “every respect” as we have, yet without sin. Could this possibly mean that Jesus was tempted to immodesty but didn't sin?

Let me define what I mean by “modesty.” Christian modesty is simply a refusal to show off, out of love for God and one’s neighbor. Jesus refused to show off His power. When tempted by Satan, He refused to show off His ability to turn stones into bread or cast Himself off a high tower (Matt. 4:1–11). When attacked by His accusers, He “opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7). When facing the humiliation and excruciating pain of the cross, He refrained from appealing to His Father for legions of angels who were waiting to bring Him deliverance (Matt. 26:53). Jesus didn't show off His power or authority because He loved His neighbor—His bride the church.

Conversely, immodesty flows out of the heart of a show-off. Maybe we've worked hard at the gym or purchased an expensive new pair of jeans. Maybe we want to prove how free we are to dress in any way we choose, no matter how suggestive. When we show off, we’re failing to love our brothers and sisters who may be tempted to lust, covetousness, or sinful imitation. Showing off is a fruit of pride and love of self. Immodesty demonstrates a cold unconcern for the church.

The beauty of the gospel, however, is that while it convicts us that we’re all unloving show-offs in some way, it also assures us that we've been loved and that we no longer need to show off to get other people’s approval. The record of our Modest Redeemer is ours! Our identity isn't wrapped up in the approval, envy, or lust of others. Our identity is found in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He loved us and refrained from showing off so we could be His. We can be freed from the need to prove that we've got a great body or wardrobe because we've been lavished with His love instead!

Of course, in this promiscuous culture women (and men) might need to be taught what modest attire looks like, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so. It’s just that the transforming power that changes a show-off into a servant doesn't come from rules about shirts or skirts. It comes from remembering the gospel and seeking to show Him off instead.

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