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]
We often like to add our two cents. It could be sufficient to say a particular thing but we add a little more because it’s on the tip of our tongue. We direct people to a passage of the Bible and then continue onward with our position. Some of us take whatever position we are in and go beyond the position’s description. For some of us, we serve those who are disadvantaged—we get saddened by their situation or irritated by their constant needs. Paul tells us to “keep a smile on your face” and not to add to whatever it is you are doing.
When you are preaching, it should be the Word of God, not your own agenda. When you are helping someone, you help—you don’t take over the situation and become an enabler. When you teach, you be sure to focus on teaching the Bible and not drifting off. When you are providing guidance and encouraging people, you do not cross the line and become bossy, trying to get the people to take your counsel and force your position. When you are in charge of something, you are not to use it to your advantage and get people to do as you desire. If you are in a position to help those that are in distress, be sure to pay attention so you can answer the call and not miss the boat. If you work with those who are disadvantaged, you should not be depressed by their situation. At the same time, you should never let them cause you to get irritated.
This is a lot of do’s and do not’s. It sounds like a bunch of rules. But what Paul is saying can be simplified—whatever you are called to do, do it with a smile and always point to Christ. It is not about you—it is about Him. If you always aim to point others to Christ and it is all about Him and not about you, all of these “rules” will be followed. When we add our two cents, we make it about us. It can never be about us.
“If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” – Romans 12:6-8 [MSG]
John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River when the Pharisees and Sadducees approached. He called them a “brood of vipers” and commanded that they “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8 NIV). This reminds me of what For King and Country sing, “Let my life be the proof, the proof of Your love.”
The question is when you look at your life from an outsiders vantage point, would there be proof? Are you living proof? The NLT version states it this way: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Proof requires an action. There’s something you must do to prove. The answer is there—by THE WAY you live. What should your life show? Repentance of your sins. Living for God.
There are many people who claim to be Christians but no one would see Christ or anything different about the person. If we are not to be of this world, there should be a difference. A person should be able to point to you and say, “Hey, there’s something different about that person. He’s not like most people. She’s not like the people I usually see.” Why? Because of the fruit. Because of the proof by the way you live. Today would someone look at you and say you are different? Would someone notice?
“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” – Matthew 3:8 [NLT]
When I recently asked my daughter to give the dog his food, there was a bit of a mishap. She had some difficulty getting the food out of the can because she had never done it before. When she finished getting out what she could, she tossed the can (still with food) into the recycling bin. The dog quickly noted that there was food still in that can and he retrieved it from the bin. From the next room, I heard the sound of a can moving along the kitchen floor. I quickly retrieved the can and verbally scolded the dog. Then I noted that the can had a good deal of food still in it and realized why he was behaving that way. He saw the good stuff was still inside and could not see the danger—the danger of getting his tongue cut on the can.
We have this same problem in life. There is danger (temptations) all around us. We sometimes cannot hear or see the danger warnings because we keep looking at the good stuff. We see a little good stuff and fall to the temptations. We do not always catch ourselves before it is too late. The devil does not put up flashing neon lights saying, “Danger, I’m going to try to get you to sin with this here.” You won’t hear a “temptation alert” sound when temptations are lurking around the corner. Usually the path to sin is a slow and winding road. C.S. Lewis wrote that the path to hell was gradual. It is when we see the little bit of good stuff and slowly slip away that gets us the easiest.
I cannot warn you of what is around the corner. I do not know what temptations you will face today. But I can point you to Christ who faced every temptation and did not sin. He is our only answer.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 [NIV]