Appearance of the Heart

Image of two clothes hangers stacked to create a heart shape

From Modest Clothing Bible Study by Ray and Elaine Powell

Does Your Appearance Indicate a Focus on Inward Beauty as Opposed to Outward Beauty?

1 Peter 3:1-5, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands" (KJV).

God is interested in the Christian woman's inward heart attitude, that of a gentle and quiet spirit which is precious in His sight. However, He is also concerned with your outward adornment, as verse three says. Some have said there is no need to concern ourselves with the outward appearance because God looks on our hearts. However, if you will notice from the above verses, God looks on the outward appearance and the inward heart. He is concerned with both! Not only must a Christian woman be careful of what she puts on her body, but she must groom her inward heart and attitude also. Can a Christian woman really emphasize the importance of the “hidden person of the heart” while exposing and emphasizing her physical body to the gaze of the world?

Greek Words Used in I Peter 3:1-5

Chaste/hagnos: exciting reverence, venerable, sacred; pure; pure from carnality, chaste, modest; pure from every fault, immaculate; clean.

This word would indicate that a Christian woman’s way of life should be characterized by purity. Wouldn’t this eliminate a Christian exhibiting the “sexy look” (either in behavior or dress)? A chaste woman would conceal the skin and shape of her body rather than drawing attention to her “finer points.” She would avoid those things which glorify her figure or expose her flesh.

Adorning/kosmos: ornament, decoration, adornment, the arrangement of the stars, "the heavenly hosts," as the ornament of the heavens. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines "adorning" as a harmonious arrangement or order. Then, adornment, decoration, hence came to denote the world, or the universe, as that which is Divinely arranged.

Plaiting/emploke: an interweaving, braiding, a knot, an elaborate gathering of one’s hair into knots.

Apparel/himation: a garment (of any sort); garments, the cloak or mantle and the tunic.

The himation of the Greeks was a loose outer garment (mantle) which was draped around the body and often thrown over or around the shoulders. This garment concealed the shape and outline of the figure. The chiton was a close fitting undergarment which was worn under the himation.

Meek/praus: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness.

Quiet/hesuchios: quiet, tranquil.

A woman with a meek and quiet spirit would adorn herself in meek and quiet clothing. She would avoid bright or bold designs or colors that might attract attention to her clothing or to herself. A woman with a meek and quiet spirit would be consistently meek and quiet in her behavior and appearance.

What Message Does Your Appearance Send?

Religion does not forbid true adorning. The real question is, "What is true adornment?"

Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised” (NASB).

The inward heart attitude is more important than beauty or charm!

Proverbs 11:22, “As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion” (NASB).

The inward heart attitude of discretion is more important than the outward beauty!

Life Application: The Godly Woman

A Godly woman’s appearance would never be offensive to other people because of sloppiness, slothfulness, dirt or odor. She would give a clear message to those around her that her mind is supremely fixed on higher and more important things by the way she spends her time, effort and money. She would resist spending needless time in adorning that she could be using to do good works for others. She would concentrate on spending her money to do good to others rather than on clothing, accessories, or adornment.

As a Godly woman, your clothing should reflect a humble, meek, worshipful heart. It should reflect a thankfulness for your beauty and an effort to grace your loveliness through neatness, cleanliness and decency but not a pre-occupation with “self.” Rather than calling attention to yourself (your body), your clothes should point to the God you worship. Modest clothing will not point others to yourself, but to Christ.

Does Your Clothing Radiate a Meek and Quiet Attitude?

Modest clothing will express an attitude of simplicity, purity and submission as opposed to an attitude of gaudiness, looseness, or liberation. Does your clothing radiate a meek and quiet attitude?

  • Does the material attract attention? Does it have lots of bright colors, causing you to stand out in the crowd?
  • Does your clothing have strange or gaudy designs which cause others to turn and look?
  • Does an advertisement or slogan on your clothing attract attention? Does your T-shirt have graphics displayed across your chest, thus attracting attention to this part of your body? Will others stop and stare at your chest in an effort to read your T-shirt?
  • Does your clothing exhibit pictures of Hollywood celebrities, TV stars, sports heroes, musicians, or others whose identities conflict with Biblical principles? Any type of picture will cause others to stop and stare at your body in an effort to see what you are advertising with your clothing. Should Christians advertise with their clothing?
  • Does your clothing display controversial symbols or other attention getters?
  • Does the style attract attention to some part of your body such as your chest, waist, or legs, or even to your whole figure?
  • Does your clothing have different colors of materials accentuating your waist, hips, or chest?
  • Does the cost attract attention? How much money did you spend on accessories to go with this outfit? Does your outfit leave the impression of extravagance?
  • Are you wearing accessories which draw extra attention? Does your clothing have accessories placed on the chest, drawing attention to your bust?

Beauty From the Heart

When people look at you do they see Christ and His beauty manifested in your good works and meek and quiet spirit? Or will they see only you and your beauty? Your appearance is telling the world what is important to you. Are you sending a clear message?

Modesty is more than conservative dress, even though it does include conservative dress. Modesty is more than covering the skin of your body, even though it does include covering your body. Modesty is more than simplicity, even though it does involve simplicity. Modesty is more than decency and orderliness, even though it does include decency and orderliness. Modesty also involves your heart, your attitude, your motive, and your behavior. There is no 1-2-3, “do and don’t list” of things you can follow in order to become a modest woman. The issue is more than what you put on your body or face. Modesty includes your heart!

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