Living within Limits


It is one thing to find success. It is quite another to handle it. Dr. Rutland shares the key to managing success well: modesty.

It is one thing to find success. It is quite another to handle it. Success has ruined at least as many as failure has. The athlete who thinks he is above the law, the starlet who flaunts her body and her addictions in public, and the arrogant CEO who parades his triumphs on talk shows have all forgotten how to stay successful. The key to that is modesty.

Most modern Americans understand the word modesty to have reference only to one’s manner of dress, and even then it is mostly used with regard to women. Yet modesty actually has far more to do with self-control and self-respect than with how revealing one’s garments are. Style of dress is an aspect of modesty, not a definition.

Modesty, in its classical sense, means living within limits. Modesty submits to the boundaries of decency. It is the opposite of being “bold-eyed,” putting oneself forward in the sense of being overly aggressive or conceited. Modesty has to do with being other than boastful or arrogant.

Modesty springs from a humble estimation of one’s own importance. It is unassuming, but it is not bashful. Modesty acknowledges that there are limits of propriety on life and that it is good to submit to those. Modesty sees restraints as being positive safeguards, not negative obstacles.

Immodesty denies responsibility to law, culture, authority, and tradition. Immodesty is personally offended by signs that say “Keep Off the Grass.” Modesty says, “There are things in this world that are right for me to do and things in this world that are not right for me to do. I am not too good or too big or too rich or too powerful for someone else to point those out to me.”

Modesty is not mindless subjection to oppression. It is rather the conviction that there are correct limits on life. In addition, the modest learn to set their own limits. Modesty has a great deal to do with one’s self-view.

There is a great insight on modesty in Romans 12:1-3. Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1). Obviously then, we are precious. We are important to God. Otherwise the sacrifice of our lives would be totally unacceptable to Him. If your body is a sacrifice that is acceptable to God, then treating your body with respect is also important to God.

Verse 3 says, “Do not thick of yourself more highly than you ought” (NIV).

In other words, a sacrifice is acceptable to God only as long as it is on the altar. When it is presented unto God, it finds its meaning. Withdrawn from the altar of God in arrogant, self-ownership, your body loses its meaning and therefore its value.

Therefore, in being yielded as a sacrifice under the ownership and lordship of Jesus Christ, I find meaning and explanation. When I take my body and my life in my own hands, I make myself meaningless and valueless. My life becomes an unending search for ways to convince myself and the world of my significance.

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