Does it matter what I wear?
Preface by Pastor Dave Carroll, Senior Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church, Hampton, Va.
In the following blog post you will find a compelling article entitled "Does It Matter What I Wear?" The short answer to that question is a resounding yes, it does matter! The leadership at Sharon Baptist church have never been of the persuasion that we tell you how to dress and what to wear. The only exception to this being for those who are in leadership roles and those who participate in the services from the platform. Rather, believing that the head of each home and the individuals soul liberty should dictate our dress standard for both men and women. I believe the principles outlined in the blog post will assist in helping you to understand, it does matter what I wear.
Speaking the truth in love,
Is God concerned with what I wear? Like many areas in our lives there is not a definitive clothes prescription listed in the Word of God (i.e. Polo on Monday, Dress Shirt on Tuesday etc.). However, that does not mean that God is not concerned for with what we wear. Though we do not find specifics when it comes to clothes in the Word of God we do find principles in the Bible that address this important subject. Out of these principles we should deduce how we live our lives for the glory of God. These principles then can be applied to determine what is proper dress and what is not. Let’s look at an example of a principle that is easily discovered in the Bible to understand how this works. Consider the following verse:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7
This principle is often called the ‘law of sowing and reaping’ and can be seen to apply both in positive and negative aspects. The principle states that what we reap is what we have sown. Notice the next verse that demonstrates this principle in action:
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:8
Simply put, what is sown is what is reaped. We find in the book of Hosea the Word of God has more to say concerning this principle.
For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up. Hosea 8:7
Here we understand further that we reap more than we sow. The nation of Israel had "sown to the wind" and now they would "reap the whirlwind." So often we do not think about the effects of sowing and reaping in our lives. This simple example shows us how these principles apply to our lives today even as they did when God had them penned. With that mind what does the Bible have to say about our dress?
Let’s look at just a few verses:
But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. I Samuel 16:7
This important verse tells us something about man and also something about God; both of which are important for us to note. We find that God sees both the inward man and the outward man; not only how we look but also the condition of our heart. Man, on the other hand judges based on what we see; the outward appearance. It is important then for us to understand that the world is paying attention to what we wear.
In the book of Exodus, we find these important verses concerning Aaron and his sons:
And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty. And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him. Exodus 28:40 -43
What can we understand about our dress from these verses? Certainly, God is not calling us to wear girdles and bonnets. We find from this verse though, that there was an expectation by God for the priests to dress a specific way. He specified that they should be covered up. The books of Exodus and Leviticus resound with the message that we cannot just approach God any way we feel like it. God is holy and therefore calls His people to be holy as well even in their dress.
Notice the next verse in I Timothy 2:9:
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
Before you are tempted to say this only applies to women, understand that the principle spoken of here is that of modesty. Yes, this verse is specifically directed toward women, but does that mean God does not expect us all to be modest? No, I believe there is a principle of modesty listed here. To be modest means- Properly, restrained by a sense of propriety; hence, not forward or bold; not presumptuous or arrogant; not boastful; as a modest youth; a modest man. (Webster's 1828 Dictionary) The question could be raised do you dress to be the center of attention?
Still looking in the Word of God we find this next verse often overlooked when it comes to dress but notice what is written to the church at Corinth:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. I Corinthians 6: 19,20
For those who are born again we understand that God dwells in us. Our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Ghost.” Knowing this, Paul urges us to “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The truth of the matter is we do not get to just choose what we wear based on how we feel, because the Bible declares we are God’s. We are bought with a price. We must glorify God not only in the inward man, but the outward man as well. The question then arises, How are we clothing the temple of our bodies? Is the glory of God part of our decision-making process when it comes to what we wear?
Another enlightening example is found in Exodus 19: 10,11. Notice what is said to the children of Israel in preparation for God coming down upon Mount Sanai.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
Here we see clearly that God demanded outward cleanliness in His presence.
In II Samuel 12:20 in similar manner we find these words:
Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
This incident was in respect to the judgement God rendered toward David as a result of his sin with Bathsheba. He fasted and prayed begging God to spare his child. But God in His perfect judgment took the physical life of the child. Once David understood that the child had died the Bible gives us the above comment. Notice David understood it was not proper for him to go into the house of the Lord dressed inappropriately. Insomuch, he “washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel.”
Lastly, tying all of this together I Corinthians 8:13 should be mentioned.
“Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
This strong statement by Paul is very telling. Paul is speaking of the principle of offence. The background for this statement was specifically about meat that was sold in the shambles which had been offered to idols. Typically, this meat would be discounted because of its use. And yet Paul says “if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth…” Think about the sacrifice of giving up all meat for the purpose of not offending. The truth of this statement is simply this, none of us are islands unto ourselves. What we do and say affects and teaches those around us. If I as a leader lower the bar of dress, I am non-verbally teaching others to do so as well.
What are some questions we can ask ourselves concerning our dress in light of God’s Word?
It is clear from just these few verses, that yes it does matter what I wear. Giving God glory in our inward man, let us then also dress our outward man for the glory of God!
- James Grandinetti, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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