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A Modest Heart ~ A Biblical Approach

on March 31, 2014 by Jami Balmet 32 comments

Modesty. Some of you who grew up in conservative churches and homes will roll your eyes at this one little word. “Oh no, not this again.” “Yeah yeah yeah…modesty, we know! We don’t need to hear it anymore!”

But I think a very large portion of the church has never had a real honest and open discussion about modesty. Maybe my perception of this is due in part to the fact that I just spent 4 years living in Southern California, but I don’t think so.

Cultivating a Modest Heart Series

I think that the modern American church has largely lost what it means to dress and act modestly.

I went to church as a kid. I was part of an active and thriving youth group in high school. But I had never had someone teach me about modesty.

I was not walking with the Lord in middle school, and God pulled me back to him during early high school. At that point, I knew I had to put away the miniskirts, but largely my dress didn’t change.

I never thought twice about my cleavage hanging out, or about what my appearance was saying about myself. This was not because I was blatantly ignoring the teaching of my youth group and church, or even living a crazy life while claiming to be a Christian.

No, I was genuinely trying to live for the Lord in high school, and yet I had never studied or been taught about modesty. Slowly the Lord took a hold of my heart and encouraged me to look into modesty. He showed me books to read and sermons to listen to. Little by little my heart was convicted of what modesty means and what it looks like.

As a result, I have a passion for sharing what the Bible teaches about modesty and encouraging ladies to look into the subject for themselves and to ask the Lord to convict their own hearts about their dress. But I of course do not have all of the answers.

I do not look at modesty in a legalistic way, and I pray that you do not either. I understand that some can take modesty and make it legalistic and turn many away from it. But Scripture teaches that we are to have a modest heart and appearance, and it’s not something we can ignore just because someone we know took it too far.

Modesty usually looks different for different people depending on how the Lord has convicted them. During this series I hope to cover the basics of modesty and also give some practical tips on how to dress and act modestly.

Are you ready to dive in? Read the rest of this series on dressing modestly below. And join in our discussions on Facebook!

More in this series:

A Heart of Modesty Series

I hope you will join me on this journey. And I want to hear from you! I know my own journey to modesty and my sisters’ journeys. But what about your journey? Did you grow up (or are currently in) a church that encourages modesty? What are your initial thoughts on Modesty?

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  1. I’m excited to read this series! I didn’t grow up with a huge emphasis on modesty. I was mostly modest because I was self-conscious, not because of God’s heart for modesty. As I have gotten older I have become more and more aware of what it really means to dress modestly. One of the main things I’ve learned recently is that just because a body part is covered with fabric does not mean you are dressing modestly – if that fabric is skin tight and showing every single curve of your body, that dress/shirt/skirt/pants is far from modest! Another thought – I seem to place much more of an emphasis on modesty now that I’m married for some reason. Anyways, looking forward to reading more from you!

  2. I think this will be a great series! My parents were always pretty picky about what I wore, but I didn’t really think much about it. Now I just mainly set the standard by what my husband thinks is appropriate (and me too of course). But I have noticed that now since I have a 2 1/2 year old, I find myself more concerned about how short or low cut things that I wear are. It’s much easier for those types of things to slip and move to where their showing more than you anticipated with a child crawling all over you! I’m excited to hear your thoughts!!!

  3. I’m excited to read more of this series! I don’t think modesty is something that was necessarily taught around here. I know now that I’m a married woman with children that I’m more picky about what I wear and making sure things are covered when in public. I definitely want to model modesty for my daughter.

    • I definitely wasn’t taught about modesty growing up but the Lord convicted me slowly. If the Lord blesses us with a girl then I definitely want to model modesty to her as well!

  4. Hi! I am glad you are writing this series, I guess you could say I have a passion for clothes. When I was younger it was all about what was in style and that was how my love of clothes expressed itself. Then recently (well recently it has come to a head, it happened over time really) God showed me some things and now that love has turned into a passion for modesty. Same thing, just expressed differently. I wrote about my experience on my blog here – http://lhexperience.blogspot.com/2011/12/skirts-vs-pants.html

  5. Looking forward to reading along! I became a Christian as a teenager and right away embraced a legalistic view of modesty. It really wasn’t until I lived in another country for a year in college that I started thinking more about heart modesty than outward modesty. The people there didn’t know me from Adam so I was freed a bit from keeping up the standard I’d set for myself. Now that I have a daughter I’m beginning to ponder outward modesty anew and of course want to approach it with more wisdom than I did as a teenager.

    • Great to hear your thoughts on this Anjanette! I definitely didn’t grow up in a legalistic environment and can sometimes find myself leaning that way. But like you said, it’s all about the heart behind modesty. I want to really be able to model modesty and how to have a modest heart if the Lord blesses us with a girl 🙂

  6. I’m looking forward to this series! I’m LDS, so modesty is very important to me. Being a convert to the church, I definitely didn’t always dress this way! But I feel so much comfortable now that I put thought into dressing modestly and not letting everything hang out like many young women my age do. And now that I’m about to be a mom, it’s really crucial to me that I look more respectable. I’m always looking for more clothing brands that I can actually wear, so I am especially excited for that part of your series!

    • Hi Kelli,

      So glad that you stopped by! Congrats on the baby 🙂 I just hopped over to your blog and it looks like you are just a couple of weeks ahead of me. I’ll be 16 weeks on Thursday!

  7. Can’t wait to start this series! As a teenager I was Pentecostal (converted to Catholic) so modesty was a big part of my life. Even now I still follow some of those habits and try to dress conservatively (as respect to both my husband and I), though I will always need to work on modesty of the heart. Will be looking forward to following along

  8. I was raised in a home wear my parents were pretty particular about what I wore. They didn’t mind me wearing shorts/pants/skirts, whatever, but they did mind if they were too tight or too short. But after the Lord saved me I really didn’t change anything until I heard a message on modesty and started feeling convicted of the way I dressed. I started wearing dresses only and I did that for about 5 years. But then I started to check my motives, was I just trying to please other people? That really got me thinking and studying and for the last 5 years I have mostly worn dresses and skirts, but I also do wear pants. I try my best to always be modestly dressed. I just keep struggling with this issue and trying to know for sure what modesty REALLY is. After a lot of studying one thing that I do know is that a lot of it is within. The outward is still VERY important, but where the heart is is also just as important. It’s hard when everything made is made to be too tight and too short and too low cut, but you can still find fashionable, modest clothing. I’m really excited about this series and am really looking forward to reading all the rest! I do think that this is an important subject that either gets left alone and not touched, or taken to an extreme legalistic stand point. So thank you for bringing it up. I am really looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks.

    • Thank you for sharing your journey!! It is hard to tell what is modest and what isn’t, especially in our modern American culture! What really counts is what is in your heart and what your motives are. Your clothing is simply an outward expression of that.

  9. My parents kind of “taught” me about modesty by modeling it, so that I didn’t even realize that the way I dressed was modest. Most of my clothes were second-hand or hand-me-down from people who dressed modestly anyway. When I was in high school I read “Secret Keeper” by Dannah Gresh, and that got me thinking more intentionally about the way I dressed. I had one shirt that I knew was getting tight and got rid of it after getting my dad’s affirmation that it wasn’t modest.

    I am a conservative Christian but I’m not of the belief that only long skirts and high-necked shirts are modest. I wear shorts and tank tops, although I am careful to not wear anything too tight or too revealing. Now that I’m married I have kind of a different view of modesty. I base my clothes on what my husband would like to see me in, but when I go out in public I’m careful to wear clothes that I wouldn’t want to see on other women. It’s mainly an issue of not leading other men to think sinful thoughts. Of course I’m not responsible for their thoughts but I am responsible for my own actions!

    Looking forward to this series, Jami!

  10. This is AWESOME! I really look forward to this series. Modesty is something I’ve been more and more convicted of recently. Modestly never used to be a concern when i made my clothing and fashion choices but not that’s completely flipped. Since this is a whole new avenue for me i’m looking for all the encouragement and information I can get my hands on!!! I’m actually thinking of doing a bit of a modesty experiment of sorts although i’m not exactly sure what that will look like. I’m excited ot read your blog girl! Have a lovely day!!!

  11. i’m excited to read this series – i just had a conversation with my husband a few weeks ago about standards of modesty around the world, and it made me realize just how passionate i feel about this issue!

    when i was in college, i was a chaplain at a girls christian cooperative house. when we asked the girls in the house what topics they’d like to talk about together during the semester, the response was “anything but modesty! we’re tired of hearing that we need to dress modestly!” many of the girls, however, WEREN’T dressed very modestly at all. it seems that we know we ought to, but we don’t want to (because we’d miss out on the attention) so we don’t, and then we feel judged when we’re told to do what we know is right. i think believers often have an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude when it comes to our culture’s standards for dress.

    i’m now living in a muslim part of southeast asia, so the cultural standards of modesty far exceed those of america. i want to show respect for their culture by also dressing modestly, but i want to somehow communicate God’s heart for modesty, rather than legalistic rules or even as a cultural standard.

  12. I grew up in a very conservative background where modesty was often approached legalistically. It was actually quite the revelation to me as a teenager to realize that God cared more about the state of my heart and my attitude toward Him than He did about the clothes I was wearing. All the modesty in the world can’t cover up a bad attitude!

  13. I’m looking forward to this series! You are right…you hear about it alot, but I think many who hear that are simply hearing about something they know they should apply to their life but don’t!

  14. “But Scripture teaches that we are to have a modest heart and appearance, and it’s not something we can ignore just because someone we know took it too far.”

    I love that line. Our Pastor has been reminding us often that our theology must be defined by the Bible not by our experience.

  15. I love this. That gentle heart and quiet spirit. Your inner life reflects your outerlife. I don’t think society chooses to remember such things.