We’ve done a lot of teaching on modesty over the last two weeks, and we thought now might be a good time to post the story of how one woman—Jenni Smith—<came to wrestle with this issue. I’ve known Jenni for almost three years now, and I can say from personal experience that she lives out the words expressed in her testimony (given at our church several years ago). I’m sure you will be inspired by her example!
“Prior to a year ago, ‘modesty’ was a foreign word to me. I viewed dressing modestly as an out of style, frumpy, and nerdy fashion. Having been a Christian for six years, I had not been made aware of how and what ways Scripture addresses this issue. My nick-name amongst my Christian friends was accurately termed, ‘Scantly.’ In choosing what to wear, I only thought of what would best serve me. What would bring the most attention my way, what would most flatter me (in the world’s terms), and what would best compare to what magazines, models, and other women I saw were wearing. The desire rooted deep within my heart was a craving to be accepted and exalted. I enjoyed my attire, the undue attention I received and the way it stimulated my feelings. My motives for the way I dressed were to promote self, not promote Jesus Christ.
An individual graciously confronted me concerning my outward appearance. As they shared their concern and listed specific articles of clothing that drew attention to my body, I was sobered. Lord, is it pride that motivates the way I dress? Does what I wear actually cause my brothers to stumble? Do I bring reproach to your name? I immediately acknowledged my desperation before God and began to plead for His mercy and grace to reveal the sin within my heart and assist me to change.
I began to study God’s Word, read material addressing this issue, and listen to CJ Mahaney’s teaching on ‘The Soul of Modesty.’ By the grace of God, there was no resistance in my heart but a passion to change. God illuminated the simple fact that it is my heart that dictates my appearance and wardrobe. I was faced with the question: ‘What statement do my clothes make concerning my heart?’ The pride and ambition to exalt self was made very clear.
I began to understand the heart and soul of modesty. Modesty is humility expressed in dress, a desire to serve others, neither promoting nor provoking sensuality or lust. It is rooted in a desire to lose any and all consideration of self and live hidden behind the cross of Christ. I became more and more aware that my dress was not an outward expression of the gospel, or humility. I began by aggressively examining my wardrobe.
My husband Jon and I spent a lengthy period of time examining every article of clothing, prayerfully considering which pieces were inappropriate. By the end of the examination my wardrobe had considerably diminished. To be honest, this has not been easy. Even though it has been a year since cleaning out my closet, there have still been many moments where I have struggled picking out my outfit for the day, being dissatisfied with my limited wardrobe. It has been crucial for me to question my motives morning after morning, helping me to see that what is most attractive is my desire to please God and not my outward appearance.
It is something that I must daily fight—to flee worldly desires and pursue godliness in this area. This requires daily application and frequent reminders. I have had the ‘Modesty Heart Check’ posted inside the bathroom vanity so that it can serve as a reminder every morning before I leave the house. I have identified specific areas where I am uniquely tempted and then spent time purposing how I need to change. And when I purchase clothing, I always show my husband Jon to be sure that it is modest.
Dressing modestly blesses my husband because it is a way that I can save myself and my body for him alone. And it also serves the other men around me by helping to guard their hearts against temptation. By pursuing modesty in spirit as well as in dress, I can bring glory to Christ and further the gospel.”