A definition of modesty is (1) the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, pride, arrogance, and boastfulness. (2) regard for decency of behavior; speech, dress.

We read Paul's exhortation to the elders of the church at Ephesus.

And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia,
in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility,
with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews."
Acts 20:18-19

Paul in writing to the young preacher Timothy instructed him to teach women about modesty.

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;
in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation,
not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,
but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
1 Timothy 2:8-10

We will go into greater detail on these words from the above verse: modest, decency, propriety .

In gaining respect, evidently some Christian women rather than having a Christ-like character felt it necessary to look beautiful physically. Through their appearance, some might have thought they could win unbelieving spouses. We need to look at I Peter 3:1-6.

While being attractive is not unscriptural for women , we should want our beauty to be an inner beauty. When we have a mild, loving and demure character, our faces will have light that any jewelry or cosmetic can't match. Unless we have an inner beauty, a well groomed outer appearance is manmade, and we masquerade about with a well groomed outer appearance. When we are dedicated Christian women who have genuinely studied, we will know this teaching.

These also define modesty: reserve or propriety in speech, dress, or behavior, lack of pretentiousness; simplicity, freedom from conceit; formality and propriety of manner.

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness,
not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
Romans 13:13

Yet more definitions of the word modesty are freedom from exaggeration; self-control , humility and lowliness of mind.

A Biblical example of modesty is that of Saul. When Saul first became king he was humble.

And Saul answered and said, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel,
and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?
Why then do you speak like this to me?"
1 Samuel 9:21

The centurion's servant was paralyzed, and he came to Jesus for help. Jesus offered to go to his house, but the man displayed a modest spirit.

The centurion answered and said,"Lord, I am not worthy
that You should come under my roof.
But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. "
Matthew 8:8

A modern day example is that of Annie Oakley. When other women wore less attire, Annie wore clothing that covered her though it was simple. If we value modesty much of the current dress or any undressing will be eliminated by us. Shamefastness is that modesty which is fast rooted in the character.

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness,
not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
Romans 13:13

The word decency in the Biblical sense has a negative connotation to it as it is applied in the dress they wore. The negativity was in not dressing to the point where one is displaying oneself. We saw a sense of shame, modesty being used regarding the manner and poise of women in the church. What God addressed to women also applies to men.

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife,
temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;
1 Timothy 3:2

More definitions of modesty and a synonym is demureness or simplicity; moderation. We need to avoid any flaunting or parading and refrain from any pretense. The dissimilarity here is between a manmade glamour of the world and the true beauty of a godly life. Our appearance should be that of simplicity. This well-ordering is not only in dress and demeanor, but that of our inner being,in our speech.

The definition of propriety is conformity to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners. Another meaning is appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances; suitability, rightness or justness.

And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge;
yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs
Ecclesiastes 12:9

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness,
not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. (
Romans 13:13

Since the believer needs to walk honestly before our blessed Lord, she should live an honorable and a noble life.

Discussion and study questions:
1. Why does God care what I wear?
2. Why is it wrong to wear much of the current style of clothing?
3. What is "shamefastness"?
4. What form of behavior does the Lord desire?
5. How does propriety affect manners and or customs?

                                                                         Copyright 2008 Linda Lawrence