Paul gives specific instructions for women. This passage is a difficult one for many women to swallow. Many times it is misunderstood. Contemporary readers typically shut their ears to the truth in these words. It is important, whether you are a man or woman, to understand what Paul is referencing in these verses.
The reason for “women to be modest in their appearance,” is because women should “not draw attention to themselves.” The attention should always be God’s. This is why Paul is addressing the issue of women fixing their hair and wearing jewelry. It has to do with attention. We are never to do anything to draw attention away from Jesus Christ.
Paul notes that the attractive woman is one who does good things. When doing these good things, we shine the Light—we point to Christ. Remember friends, the world tells you to do what you can to get attention. However, in Kingdom life, we know He alone deserves all the honor, glory and praise. It doesn’t mean we cannot wear makeup or jewelry, that our clothing doesn’t matter. It means nothing can take His glory. Fix your eyes on Him and in everything you do, point to Him.
“And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10 [NLT]
It is very easy to change your clothes to appear different. Many people have clothing for different events and situations. We have our work clothing, our casual clothing, our dress clothing, etc. But changing your clothing does not change you. It only changes your appearance to make you more comfortable in your environment, to help you blend in, to keep you hot/cool, or to follow some dress code requirement at work or school.
In Joel we read the need to change your life. You cannot simply change the outer appearance and think you have accomplished what God was after. God wants your heart. God wants you to have a pure heart. You can easily change your clothing and attend church and think you’ve done what was required of you. Yet your heart could be without change—the outside was changed but the inside remained the same.
Today is the day to look deep within and ask yourself if there has been a change. Have you just changed clothing? Have you simply sought a “Christian” radio station and changed your appearance? Have you started to attend church every Sunday so you can say you went to church? Or have you changed? Do you see something different about yourself? Are you more joyful? Are you more hopeful? Are you more helpful? Are you nicer? Do you act with more compassion? Are you after truth? If you aren’t seeing one bit of change, chances are you have just changed your clothes.
“Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here’s why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.”
-Joel 2:13 [MSG]
I do not think we can picture people as God pictures them because we look only outwardly and He sees the heart. We also look at the person’s present condition, and He looks at what He made them to be—a work-in-progress, a person under construction to be something so much more. He has this beautiful plan but we live with eyes that do not focus on His big plan. Our eyes often focus on ourselves.
When God looked at David, He looked into the heart. He did not see a young shepherd, the smallest in the family. He did not look at David’s current situation, his outward appearance, etc. He knew David’s potential. He knew what was on David’s heart. He chose him to be the next king as a result.
How differently our world would be if we would stop treating people as we initially see them. How different things would be if we spoke encouraging words to people, speaking life into them. Perhaps you know someone who needs to hear some kind words, someone who needs some encouragement. Today is a great day to look at the person as God sees them, instead of how they look to us—and to speak to them as such. Tell them they were made for so much more. Encourage. Uplift. Motivate.
“But GOD told Samuel, ‘Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; GOD looks into the heart.’”
-1 Samuel 16:7 [MSG]
We typically take whatever effort we can to not let people see us for who we really are, and to keep up the image we want people to have of us. I saw a neighbour attempting to walk out in his pajamas to get the newspaper. When he noticed that I was fast approaching, he ran back into his home and hid in wait until I passed by, only to then walk out quickly to grab his morning paper. He was wearing pajamas and a robe, but he didn’t want anyone to notice. I guess he assumes people believe he doesn’t wear sleepwear to sleep, or that perhaps he does not even sleep at all. Later I noticed a pre-teen boy fall at the bus stop. He cowered and went by himself to another area because he did not want his friends to see him crying because of the pain he was feeling.
Jesus called the Pharisees white washed tombs because they were spiritually dead inside. They knew all about the Law, down the fine print; however, their hearts were dead. They liked to put on this facade for everyone, making it look as if they were high, upstanding individuals. The truth is that God sees our hearts. He sees what is going on even if we hide behind our screen doors, waiting to make a dash for the paper. He sees that we are crying when we try to hide our face. He sees everything that we do at every moment of our lives. We can pretend with everyone else, but there is no pretending with God.
I find it amazing that God loves me so much despite the fact that He has seen everything I have ever done, and that He also knows what I will do next but does not leave my side. I have found that rather than spend the extra time trying to hide and pretend, that when we are transparent, when we let people see everything, there is a great peace in our lives. Being transparent also allows God’s light to shine through so much brighter. People can see God at work in your life.
I pray that you are able to be more transparent today. I hope that if you are hiding things in your life and trying hard to live up to a particular image, that you let go of the facade and focus on the Truth. God thinks you are awesome despite the flaws. Let God help you and work in your life; don’t hide.
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.’”
– 1 Samuel 16:7 [ESV]