What top 7 Bible verses speak the most about modesty? Why are they important to the believer in Christ?
The word modesty only appears twice in the ESV Bible; in 1st Timothy 2 and in 1st Corinthians 12 but we can use similar words to essentially find the same meaning. Modesty could be called humility because by definition modesty is holding to an unassuming or moderate belief in the estimation of one’s own abilities or achievements and showing moderation in one’s own behavior like being free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions so we can expand the use of the word modesty to include humility, humbleness, and lowliness or contrition of spirit.
First Timothy 2:9-10 “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”
This equally applies to men too in the sense that they should dress in modesty and not overdo their attire. To be presentable is one thing but to be fitted with extravagant clothing and jewelry can easily make others think that they are anything but modest. Paul said that in all things there should be modesty when he instructed Titus to “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:7). The real value of a person is determined on what is on the inside, not on what is worn on the outside.
First Corinthians 12:22-24 “On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it.”
In 1st Corinthians 12 Paul is writing about spiritual gifts and some gifts were esteemed as more prominent than others so Paul emphasized that some parts or functions of the body, meaning the church as the body of Christ, might seem to be weaker or less than honorable than others but Paul is clear that these are the more indispensable and they are due greater honor. These whose functions in the church are “unpresentable,” at least compared to the other gifts of the spirit, are treated or at least should be treated with more modesty. These which others tend to deem as less honorable actually give “greater honor to the part that lacked it” but even so, those with these functions within the body of Christ should be treated with greater modesty, perhaps because they get less recognition than those with other gifts of the Spirit.
First Peter 3:3-4 “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
This verse should be equally applied to men as well as to women because men are no less at risk for overdoing their apparel than women are. The idea is for both men and women to have a gentle, quite spirit that doesn’t seek to draw attention to themselves because this is very precious in God’s sight.
Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Outward beauty can be very deceiving because it has little or nothing to do with what the person is like on the inside and those who fear God, both men and women, show modesty both inwardly by their character and outwardly by the lives that they lead. God says He looks on the heart and not on the outside (1st Sam 16:7) because that’s what is most important.
First Peter 5:5 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
This has seemed to have nearly disappeared in society today where the younger person shows respect to the elder. Here this is talking about those in the church and not in society but the days when older men and women were referred to as “sir” and “ma’am” inside and outside of the church are nearly gone, however all people of all ages should be clothed with humility toward one another.
Ephesians 4:1-3 “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Modesty certainly includes humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and having a spirit of unity and living in peace among others. This modest type of behavior pleases God and it also makes others see Christ living in us and may cause others to look to the Savior.
Proverbs 15:33 “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
This “fear of the Lord” is not a fear of being struck down and destroyed by God but it is a holy, reverential respect for God and His Word. Fear is a natural mechanism in us and it keeps us from hurting ourselves so a bit of fear is healthy. The key to Proverbs 15:33 is that we can only live honorable if we live in humility before God and before others.
God highly esteems modesty and there is something winsome in someone who is humble, contrite, and lives a life of modesty. To God, it is of great value since we know that God resists those who are proud and He give grace only to those who are humble or modest (James 4:6).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.