Should I Care About What I Wear
As I read through the Bible this year, more than a few times, I’ve bumped into a passage of scripture that has surprised me, given me cause for pause, or flat-out left me speechless.
Exodus chapter 28 is one of those passages.
This is one of those detailed Old Testament passages where the verses go on and on about God’s thorough instructions for the Israelites. This particular chapter relates specifically to the attire for the priests. God gives very specific information relating to what the priests were supposed to wear and how those garments needed to be constructed.
In the first couple of verses, one word caught me off-guard and made me stop to think.
“You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.” Exodus 28:2
Right smack in the middle of the Pentateuch and all of the information given to Moses about the design of the temple and the procedures for the sacrifices, God says He is interested in beauty.
In addition to the function and purposes of the priestly garments, God wanted them to be beautiful.
This is mind-blowing for me – a girl who cares nothing about clothes.
As a stay-at-home mom who would rather wear yoga pants and a t-shirt on any given day of the week, clothes have taken a back seat in my personal hierarchy of important matters.
In my opinion, clothes are for function.
I have to get dressed. Eve made sure of that.
And get dressed I do, but I don’t necessarily make it my practice to go beyond the idea of “function” and “necessity”.
Most Christians would agree that there is a “function” and “necessity” in dressing for God’s glory.
We have the verses down pat that talk about modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Believers are quick to remind each other that God is more interested in our hearts than our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). And Christian women have been beat over the head with the message that a quiet and gentle spirit is of great worth – more so than the beauty that comes from what we wear.
But could it be that on the way to making sure that we glorify God with what we wear, we have forgotten that we serve a God who is also interested in beauty?
…not the beauty that comes from depending on outwards appearances for value nor the beauty that comes at a cost of representing Christ well. We definitely don’t want a quest for beauty to become an idol that supersedes our desires for all things holy, acceptable and pleasing to God.
Yet, we serve a God who paints beautiful sunsets. He didn’t create the world in black and white. He graced creation with brilliant variety, color, textures, and design. We are reminded in Luke 12:27 that He has dressed the lilies so wonderfully that Solomon, who had the capacity to win the “best-dressed” award, couldn’t hold a candle to God’s handiwork.
God told Moses, not once, but twice (Genesis 28:40) to make sure that the priestly garments served the purpose of glory and beauty as the Levites did their duties in the temple. He went into great detail about the color, design, and layout of the garments.
So I’m challenged.
I’m challenged to care.
While I don’t think I will ever be the girl who loves to shop, (why would I spend money on clothes when I could spend money on books?) I do think there is something Biblically important about God’s children reflecting God’s glory and His beauty with the abilities, resources, and time that we have.
It’s not about name brands, or spending hours in the mirror, or comparing what I wear to what someone else has on.
It’s about being challenged to do better.
I’m challenged to not be lazy with my appearance or to use the importance of the inner man (or woman) as an excuse for lack of effort.
God expressed a desire for beauty as His people met Him in the temple and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells me that my body IS the temple of the Holy Spirit. How much more so should I reflect God’s glory and His beauty as I meet Him every day?
Should I care about what I wear?
Dress shouldn’t be an idol.
Clothing shouldn’t be a distraction.
Appearance shouldn’t be an idol.
But should I care?
Yes, I think I should.
Chrystal Evans Hurst
Awesome Post – just truly awesome !!!!!
As a woman who dresses modern but modestly because I am a temple of the Holy Spirit and also desire to reflect Jesus to the world , I was stopped in my tracks when you mentioned dressing beautifully as well . I have always loved clothes and “dressing up” . You have given me a boost in my wardrobe choices and encouragement that God desires us to not only be modest but also beautiful ! It was great that you encouraged us to not let it be an idol or our main concern but that you so clearly stated that God does enjoy dressing up a sunset and the world we live in and how we should also enjoy making things beautiful as well .
Thank you ,
Your welcome 🙂
I read your article and I feel that you took a roundabout way to tell people if they consider themselves Christians, they should dress better. I’m going to assume that there are many new Christians that follow For The Family, but I hope they overlook this post. You are correct in your Old Testament references but the New Testament only mentions modesty. The Lord did not come with glorious apparel and items of gold. After his resurrection he did not appear in a beautifully decorated wardrobe. I don’t remember what the woman was wearing when she spoke to me about the Lord and invited me to church so many years ago. All that matters is that she was a woman who loved God and shared the gospel with me. Many people who may have read this article are trapped in a economic status that hinders them from buying nice clothes and many of them do not go to church because they don’t have a “Sunday’s best” outfit. Our Lord is a “come as you are” kind of Savior and only sees the blessed child, not the well dressed blessed child. Have a wonderful day and blessings to you.
Thanks for your reply. I am not saying that all Christians must dress better. The point of today’s post is to say that beauty is not a topic that is absent from the Bible so that it’s okay if we make an effort in our appearance. So many Christians have learned to think negatively about clothing as if it’s sin to care or make an effort. This post was meant to be an answer to that concern. You are totally right to say that Jesus was not beautiful in appearance and that appearance is not all there is for the person who loves God. Appearance in no way shape or form should stop a person from coming to church or from approaching the throne or from presenting the gospel. But as I mentioned in the post, while the importance of the inner person is paramount, it should not be an excuse for lack of care where care can be had. At the foot of the cross we are all laid bare, sinners in need of a Savior and He is not asking us about how we choose to dress. However, just as is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:31, in everything we do, we should seek to bring God glory and I think that can extend to doing our best in every area. Each person must decide what “best” is for them given their resources and abilities. I hope that helps. Thanks again for your thoughts.
Thank you for this post. Appearance has been a topic that is difficult to specifically speak or ask about. It has been weighing down on me recently and I could not find the answer. I prayed for an answer. And then I came across this read!
I felt like I could do better, and the lack of trying made me feel a bit unmotivated. I started to feel it was shallow to consider it relevant, yet knowing I never considered myself vain, i actually actively try to steer away from it, especially in the dating realm.
However, i had noticed my best friend and potential dating partner cares relatively little about his appearance. Sometimes I truly wondered if he would check the mirror before leaving his home! I hated for it to be a deal-breaker but appearance should not be “look like you dont care”, it can be uncomfortable and a signal that one is not very self-aware about relevant, deeper issues. A girlfrend of mine had a similar issue and at the time was not as hygienically strong, she developed a skin issue over the years where the physician required intensive hygiene procedures.
One does not need to be wealthy to maintain nice and pleasant appearance or need to wear heavy jewelry. It is so relieving to be able to biblically see God’s appreciation for pleasant yet humble views
You said… ” one does not need to be wealthy to maintain nice and pleasant appearance or need to wear heavy jewelry.”
You are right. We should each do the best we can with what we have.
Loved this post. If we are God’s masterpiece, I do believe we should reflect his glory….even in the beauty of how we present ourselves. Loved!!!!!
I pray that you look at this post through a different set if lenses. Lenses that recognize the struggle that women have in a society that promotes overt sexuality in place of God’s glorious beauty. A society that can sometimes lead Christian women to think that attempts to highlight their God given beauty is sinful or wrong.
God does not require that we dress better to be acceptable or worthy, but to the contrary He wants us to reflect His glory, His beauty, His majesty! Worship does not have a dress code. Regardless of your pay grade or dress size, every woman (every person for that matter) can select garments that are flattering and dress themselves well. Dressing well is relative but includes clean, properly fitting, ironed, and complimentary to ones shape or body type… Whether you’re in jeans or a suit.
Chrystal speaks to the heart of individuals who recognize the complexity of living for God and have questions about what to do with this Holy Spirit temple He’s given us. Although it may not resonate with you personally don’t shortchange or discredit the message. It is a blessing to so many!
It is amazing, isn’t it, about the way He creates the sunsets and the glorious morning dawn? I had completely forgotten … totally abandoned … how much He loves beauty for He created it, until I read your post. Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder that as His daughters we can embrace it inside and out yet not worship it. Blessings!
I so totally agree…especially on the clothes vs books point! 🙂 And I do believe God said that we are to “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”. Yes, I think He cares about our bodies and what we look like, or He would not have brought it up…and from what I have seen of His work, I believe He enjoys beautiful. 🙂 And as we (our family with 7 children to keep in clothes) live in a foreign country where the clothing choices are either new and outrageously expensive or used clothing sent over from the thrift stores in the States, I have found that God is really good at helping me find beautiful and useful clothing for very little money. In the past I have been taught about dressing modestly and all, and the one thing that I most remember (because it is the area where I struggle :0) is that “Casual doesnt mean sloppy”. Thank you for the reminder and the challenge! Time to hit the ukay-ukay! (local for “thrift store) 🙂
Your article reminded me of a time when I was going through an extreme dark period in my life. And I will never forget one morning when I was getting out of bed this voice in my head, said “Girl, fix yourself up”. I laugh at it now but it wasn’t funny back then. Back then I felt so bad that I didn’t care how I looked and my sorrow and sadness showed in how I dressed. But I did what the voice said and changing what I wore, doing my hair, and wearing make-up lifted my thoughts about myself and eventually it led to lifting my view of my situation. Eventually, I realized thatthe voice in my head was really the voice of the Holy Spirit who was leading me out of a dire situation. I’m not saying or implying that everyone who doesn’t care about how they dress is depressed. Of course that is not true! Personally, I think that it matters to God how we dress and based on scriptures it matters a well. And one last thing, I have a limited budget to spend on clothing, jewelry, make-up, etc but the Lord has always enabled me to purchase top quality, designer clothes on sales at prices lower than a fourth of the original price. He will supp;y our needs according to His riches in glory and I believe that includes clothes.
Thank you for stirring up a memory and for asking a great question.
I’ve had those dark times too. Thanks for sharing 🙂
While I agree with you that looking the best we can to give glory to God is noble, I do not think this is a reminder women need. I think most women, instead, need more caution against placing TOO much value on outer appearance out of vanity. You mention numerous times in this post that that’s not something you struggle with. But let’s face it…most women do. My church is filled with women who jabber on incessantly (and publicly) about fashion, the expensive things they buy, how they’ll camp out when a new ‘line’ is available, etc. When I witness these conversations I think so much of Christ as a humble, suffering servant, and how he asked us to place other people’s needs before our own. As long as there are people without Bibles, kids without food, etc., I cannot imagine God asking us to focus on our appearance. I think you’re taking one verse a bit out of context and stretching it too far. I think the tone of Scripture (OT and NT) is self-sacrifice and a turning away from the things of this world…to include outer beauty.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. However I disagree. I do think there are many women who don’t need the help, but it is my experience that I’m one of many women that do need encouragement in this area. The key is that we need balance. We need the message that outwards appearance can be an idol and a worldly way of looking at things, but, I think to push that message so far that women shouldn’t be reminded to take an appropriate level of care – especially for women that need to be encouraged – I think that might be pushing it too far.
Think about it this way. We have to eat. But many people abuse food. Does that mean that we shouldn’t swap recipes? Does that mean we shouldn’t encourage each other to eat well? Of course not. We have to eat so no one would say that to appreciate the food that we have, and the beauty of a good meal, in good company is a bad thing.
God created all that we eat and said it was good. I believe that to say that clothing is inherently a bad thing because some people take it too far and therefore we should never have a healthy discussion about it is not the right way to go either.
While my church is filled with women too who make their clothing too much of a big deal when there are missionaries that need support on the field as they bring the message of Christ to others, there are other women in my church that have no idea of what it means to glorify God in all that do, including the attention (moderate as it should be) to what they wear.
Thanks again for your thoughts.
There have been times when, under the burden of mothering young children, I haven’t been able to ‘keep myself up’ (frequent haircuts, best outfits, etc.) like I normally would…but it’s out of sacrifice for the nurture of my kids and I believe the Lord understands that ‘looking good’ in this season of life just falls second. As I said, I don’t think ‘trying your best’ with what you’ve got is bad at all…and lest you think I’m a slob, I’m actually not. But I don’t feel critical of women who you might call a slob. I honestly have never met a mom who thinks “clothing is inherently bad”, and the women who you think need encouragement to keep themselves up better, I think, instead, need grace and understanding for whatever burden they’re carrying that has them not looking their best. Be it depression, caring for kids, whatever…I think it’s judgemental and compassionless to tell that mom, “You need to care more about your looks!” Going back to the passages in Genesis and Exodus that you referred to…I still struggle to see how you’re using those for your point. The ornate, decorative garments were for priests to wear in God’s presence alone, for His glory and good pleasure. I agree that women should dress for God’s glory, but that tabernacle privacy of just priest and God is no longer in play..plus the evidence seems to suggest that women today are thinking of other people’s impressions with the way they dress (you’re actually reinforcing that!). I know I sound really critical here, but it’s because lately I’ve been overwhelmingly discouraged with the emphasis my female peers place on outer appearance and I’ve been praying and hoping for a strong voice to counter that emphasis and refresh our convictions that the heart is what matters, NOT the outer appearance! Thanks for the dialogue.
There is a difference between looking pretty and well kept and being a shopping addict. One of the primary signs of depression and anxiety is someone who does not ever keep their appearance up. That is why any doctor or counselor worth his or her weight wants to see you in person for counseling.
If we allow ourselves to wallow in “Pigpen style” every day then it is more a reflection on our spiritual health and our misunderstanding of how Jesus sees us than anything. I have been here myself so I know. Also, just as dressing up can become an idol, so can looking shabby. In some circles, women consider themselves more spiritual if they always look disheveled. I think the proper attitude on this should be, ” From 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether we eat for drink, do it all for the glory of the Lord.” Let God examine your heart about if your motive for how you dress is self-serving or Christ and others honoring. He is the only perfect and righteous judge.
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