You may ask yourself, “What biblical significance is there in the way that I dress?” or “What does God care about what's trending in fashion?” Well, these are some very valid questions that I aim to address in this article.
With the subject of style, fashion and clothing, the Bible seems to put more of an emphasis on the need to develop one’s inner beauty more so than the outer appearance. For example, in First Peter 3: 3-4, the Bible makes mention of this subject speaking to wives in relationship to their husbands. Although the verses focus primarily on the wife, I think it makes a relevant point to both gender in regards to our topic. And it reads, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Likewise, in another place in scripture, we see that Jesus is rebuking the teachers of the Law because of their hypocrisy. He says in Matthew 23: 27–28, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean... On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” From these verses, it becomes clear that God is displeased with the nature of the individual's character particularly when it poses evil and especially when the individual masks their true nature by dressing it up in a pretentious manner. This was the thing that Jesus was pinpointing in the scripture. Unfortunately, this is usually the sole place where people land when making mention of style and fashion from a biblical standpoint.
The beauty about God and His creative work is that He has “fashioned” us according to His image and His likeness. Yet, He has instilled within each of us a certain distinction and individuality whereby He intends to get glory from our lives. This is the reason that we must be careful not to limit God’s creativity at work through people in the form of an individual’s sense of style and fashion. In fact, there is a very fitting quote by a renowned social reformer and clergyman of the early 1800s named Henry Ward Beecher that states, “Clothes and manners do not make the man, but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”
My point is, God does not object to what a person wears or the way in which they wear it as long as it is modest and tasteful. The difference in Christiandom as opposed to the world of fashion is that sometimes in modern fashion culture, there is such a pressure to look a certain way, that it often drives people to make drastic physical changes such as by cosmetic surgery or extreme weight loss, etc to try to fit an image that may or may not be applauded by the masses. Fashion is ever changing and one must learn not to take extreme measures just to be relevant or “in” while neglecting that which is most important such as building a valuable and solid relationship with God.
There is a balance in all of this. The scripture says that we should love others according to the love we have for ourselves. So to dress nicely and to focus on developing one’s personal style is not sin, but is an expression of self-respect and self-honor. As believers, there is nothing wrong with dressing like we are the King’s own as we are! In fact, the more that we gain revelation as to who we are representing and the eternal kingdom that we are partakers of, the more attention we will give to modeling the part from the inside out.
Picture young David in First Samuel 16. When the prophet Samuel came into Jesse’s home to choose a candidate as king over Israel, none of Jesse’s other sons fit the description. Though some looked the part, God was more interested in the nature of their hearts, which would determine their ability to undertake such a divine task. In fact, while Samuel considered one of the brothers as being the chosen one, God interrupted and spoke to the prophet, saying: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16: 7). After all of the sons in the house were presented to the prophet, Samuel concluded that none of them were fit and asked if there were any others left. Jesse responded saying that the only one remaining was his son David who was out tending the sheep.
Progressively, we see that David started out in shepherd's clothing, but eventually was redressed in king's garments according to where his destiny would take him!
In my previous blog entitled My Style and The Way I Wear It Matters, I reference an article written by Eva Rykrsmith called Dress Code or Not, What You Wear Matters. The correlation that I would like to make between the verses we just read and her article is the fact that the things we wear can also have an impact on our overall performance. She writes, “The clothes we wear—specifically, the meaning we have associated with them and the feelings they evoke in us—put us in a different mindset.” The reason that Jesus encouraged them to free Lazarus from his grave clothes when he was resurrected is so that in moving forward with his life, it was important that Lazarus no longer performed as one who was a victim to his past, or to even think as one who was still dead. The whole moral of my article can be summed up in these words: Your inner character is more important than the outer. Work on that first and have your outer mirror the same.
DRESS LIKE A GENT