July 14, 2010 by Stacy McDonald

The Beauty of Chastity: Heart Matters (Part 3)

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Click her to read Part 1 and Part 2

“But it doesn’t matter what I wear!” Sarah scoffed. “God sees my heart!” Sarah finished putting on her lipstick while Hannah tried in vain to reason with her old friend.

“Yes, God sees your heart,” Hannah explained, “but nobody else does—especially boys—they see that.” Hannah swept her hand in front of Sarah’s revealing outfit. “Don’t you see? They’re too distracted by what you’re wearing to notice you.”

“But that’s my point! I don’t care if boys notice me or not.” Hannah smiled coyly. “I just care what God thinks, and He can see my heart.”

We’ve all heard the term “It’s what’s inside that counts.” And there happens to be great truth here; God is most concerned with our hearts. We don’t want to be like the Pharisees and appear outwardly beautiful, holy, or pious, while full of filth on the inside.

Jesus rebuked the hypocrites for this very thing:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)

God is able to peer into the depths of our soul and know our thoughts and our motives. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves! But, how often do we judge someone by a quick perusal of their appearance? Let’s take a look at what happened in 1 Samuel:

The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

The Lord was telling Samuel who He had chosen to anoint as the next King of Israel. Samuel looked at Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son who was full grown and physically impressive, and figured this was who God wanted. But, God had already chosen David, a youth, the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons.

God saw in David a heart of faith. He was teaching Samuel that men do not see things the way God does. God sees the heart, while man tends to only see things on the surface. It’s part of our human frailty.

Even Paul had trouble with people judging him by his physical appearance. His authority was questioned because while his words were powerful and weighty, his physical appearance was “weak” and his speech was said to be “contemptible.” (2 Cor. 10:7-11)

We tend to make quick judgments of people by their outward appearance. We look at their physical beauty, their clothing, the house they live in, the car they drive, what kind of haircut they have. We are easily swayed by smooth speech and charisma. All these things can distract us from seeking to really know someone. But, God sees what’s on the inside—He sees the heart.

So, if “God looks at the heart,” then what does it matter how we present ourselves to others? Right? If our goal is to please God and not man, then what does it matter how I dress, or if I keep myself clean and presentable? So what if I dress a little revealing? God knows my heart. Right?

Remember, God looks at the heart, but all man can see is what we show him. In fact, I believe that God was warning us, as Believers, that our outward appearance does matter! He said that men do look at the outer appearance—right or wrong, they do. It’s a human weakness.

So, although we as Christians shouldn’t judge others based on their appearance, we ourselves have a responsibility to remember that others do have this weakness – and we should desire to communicate good things about Christ by the way we present ourselves.

Besides, despite our best efforts, what is “inside” will eventually show up on the “outside”. (Prov. 4:23; Matt. 12:34; 15:18, 19; Mark 7:21).

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil…” (Luke 6:45, NKJV)

So, if your demeanor is sloppy, sensual, careless, or unclean, you need to ask God to show you if there is a problem with your heart. Ask yourself the following questions (you may want to ask a trusted friend or family member for their honest opinion):

• Does your appearance communicate the loveliness of Christ, or are you known as that gal who never seems to brush her hair or bathe?
• Do people you meet ever act surprised when they find out you’re a Christian because of your affection for subculture dress, black leather, or body piercings?
• Does the way you dress and behave communicate chastity, or do others assume you’re trying to look “hot?”
• Look in the mirror. Does your demeanor appear dour or severe or do you see joy and loveliness in your reflection?

It all matters. Every bit of it. And the basis for the whole thing is found in the words of our Lord:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:37-40, NKJV)

It’s all about loving God and loving our neighbor. And one way I can express my love for Jesus is by honestly representing Him.

My high school choir teacher had a rule: we were never to wear our school uniforms outside of choir events, unless we were prepared to act like perfect ladies and gentlemen. If we were caught in public behaving in an unbecoming way while wearing our uniform, it exposed our school to ridicule and tainted our “good name.”

It also meant an automatic expulsion from choir. We took this charge seriously because we knew that along with the “honor” of being part of the choir we had a responsibility. And we fiercely guarded the reputation of our school.

In a similar way, I must guard my Lord’s reputation. I speak dishonestly of the purity of Christ if I dress in a way that contradicts my testimony, or puts into question my chastity. I represent Jesus by the way I behave, dress, speak, and love my neighbor. Remember, the way I present myself in public should point others to Christ, not distract people from Him.

Older women are called to admonish younger women to be “chaste” (among other things). And why? Scripture says it is “so that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” (Titus 2:4-5)

We may cause God’s word to be blasphemed among the heathen if we live a life that is counter to what is contained in Titus 2. To blaspheme literally means to slander – to communicate that which is not true. We must live a life that is consistent with the Word, lest, because of our hypocrisy, we give non-Christians the opportunity to slander God.

We can pass out tracts all day long, or build multi-million dollar preaching centers; but when we start living out the purity of the Gospel before the lost, that’s what’s going to get their attention. That’s what’s going to make it all real! Scripture tells us:

The nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:23)

Does your life hallow God? Do those around you see and experience a true and honest picture of His goodness, His power, His beauty in your life? Our primary purpose on earth is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. By God’s grace, our lives are to reflect His holiness, His nature, His mercy, His love, His purity, and His beauty.

“Or do you not know… you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2, NKJV), emphasis mine

Just as a woman may win her disobedient husband to Christ “without a word” by her submissive spirit and chaste conduct (1 Peter 3:1-2), any woman (or man), “without a word,” may win the lost by living a life that reflects the truth and purity of the Gospel.

True beauty is found in “the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Now you know the secret to “incorruptible beauty,” the kind that can’t be destroyed by old age, cancer, illness, or injury. This is true, biblical beauty and it is found in a woman who is chaste, modest (1 Tim. 2:9), gentle, meek, and submissive to the authorities in her life—living a life marked by good works (1 Tim.2:10).

You see, Jesus wants you to be beautiful, not to simply look beautiful! May this type of radical beauty define your life and the lives of your daughters—and may it be consistently evident to the lost and dying world around you! Hallowed be His name!

This entire series will be available soon in the form of a down loadable booklet.



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25 Responses to “The Beauty of Chastity: Heart Matters (Part 3)”

  1. April says:

    Stacy,
    This has been a recurring topic of conversation around our home lately. My two older daughters are 13 and 11 now, and both need to purchase clothes from the Misses' section of the store–opening up a whole new world of questions regarding what is and is not appropriate and WHY. The hardest thing is teaching my eldest daughter that while we do not dress to call attention to ourselves, it does matter how she presents herself. She sees it as a contradiction. Your way of stating the difference really helps put words to my struggling instruction. I am grateful! Do you have recommendations for books that might be helpful to use with girls the ages of mine on these topics? My eldest is a total bookworm.

    Thank you so much for being a voice of truth!

  2. Our Family says:

    Thanks for posting this series. As Christians, we do like to pretend that it only matters what God thinks, but the cold hard reality is that we are representatives of Chrsit, sometimes the only "Christ" others will see. What we wear, the words we speak, the music we listen to, the way we react to others and to life's situations, even the expressions on our faces when things don't go our way are pointing others to Christ or are driving them away.

    Every morning when we dress we should strive to not only wear items appropriate for our callings (witnesses for Jesus) but also to make sure the rest of our countenance is dressed appropriately.

    In Him,
    Sarah

  3. Lisa Grace says:

    This is becoming a "theme" in our home and our lives as of late. I'm really enjoying your series and love what you are sharing … and sharing it with others. Thanks for being BOLD and BEAUTIFULLY PURE!

  4. Georgia says:

    1 Corinthians 10:13
    No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

    From reading your article much resposibility is put on the woman.
    The man must take some of the responsibility for lust. He can look the other direction, leave the room or walk away. Mothers I hope you are encouraging your sons to cast down some of their imaginations, with the same kind of emphasis that you are using with your daughters to dress properly. Be very careful that you don't create rebellion.

  5. Stacy McDonald says:

    Georgia,

    Yes, this is an area we teach our boys as well. Since I am a woman, I don't position myself to teach men, though I occasionally give a warning for the sake of our sons (like the inappropriate movie issue we discussed recently).

    We teach our sons to guard their eyes when out in public. We also teach them to use wisdom in what sort of situation they put themselves in. For instance, we don't allow certain catalogs in our home (Victoria Secret etc.), we are mindful of the routes we take in departments stores (lingerie), we avoid public pools, and we teach them to look away or look down if someone is so immodestly dressed that there isn't any way to avoid being visually assaulted.

    While men are responsible for their sin, women are also responsible. Men tend to lust after women, while women tend to lust after being lusted after. Both are heart issues, as Jesus described in Matthew 5.

    A woman may still be sinning by the way she dresses, regardless of whether or not the men around her were successful in guarding their eyes. If her desire was to allure, and the man escaped (as Joseph did from Potipher's wife), her sin remains – though God did provide a way of escape for the man.

  6. Stacey says:

    Thank you for this wonderful series. This has been a topic of great discussion in our home for quite awhile now. And we are an older couple (well, in our late 40's, anyway!) with no children. Nevertheless, we still believe this is a major issue in today's culture. We live in Scotland, and society is primarily secular here, with great disdain towards Christians. It is a daily struggle to live our faith here. As well, women tend to dress very inappropriately, with very tight and very low-cut clothing. This issue has been in the forefront in our home because we strive to live what we believe and to represent Christ to the community. This last segment really hit on why we believe what we believe, and why we try to dress modestly (which neither of us equates with frumpy or dowdy!). Thank you so much for organizing these thoughts and words so well, giving another foundation to what we believe and try to live. Blessings to you!

  7. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi April,

    A few years back, I wrote a book called Raising Maidens of Virtue, which is a study for mothers and daughters regarding topics such as this. Perhaps it would be helpful.

    "Do you want your daughter to cherish her purity and honor God by the chaste and lovely way she presents herself? Through stories, conversational teachings, illustrations, and memory-making projects, Raising Maidens of Virtue covers topics such as guarding the tongue, idleness, sibling relationships, honoring parents, contentment, modesty, purity, cleanliness, and feminine beauty."

  8. Ginger says:

    This comment was so great:
    "A woman may still be sinning by the way she dresses, regardless of whether or not the men around her were successful in guarding their eyes. If her desire was to allure, and the man escaped (as Joseph did from Potipher's wife), her sin remains – though God did provide a way of escape for the man."

    Reminds me of my kids when one hits the other, and the other hits back. Which one sinned? Well, duh, they both did. ;)

  9. Michelle says:

    I have enjoyed this series and am glad to hear you will have a booklet. (My oldest will be 3 in September. It will be a good thing to have on hand for the future!) :)

  10. Lauren says:

    Really enjoyed this series! Thanks for writing it!

    Especially appreciated the challenge here to evaluate our hearts if our outward appearance is a certain way…very helpful.

    ~Lauren

  11. Jennifer says:

    A downloadable booklet? Kewl!

    I don't see why girls don't get this, to be honest. I love that quote from Jesus about tombs, and there's another way to describe it in reverse: if you have a beautiful temple dedicated to an all-high God, you don't decorate the outside with cross-bones, skulls, or other dead or vulgar things to deceive others and dishonor its nature, do you?

  12. Step says:

    This series reminds me of the very first church my husband and I joined after we were married. The well-meaning pastor had a "come as you are" philosophy in terms of dress because "God doesn't care what you wear". As you can imagine, this was an open invitation for many to come to church looking as they just rolled out of bed — wet hair, sweat suits, cut-offs, and the like.

    While I understand what the pastor meant, it did nothing help this mama of 3 explain to her children that we must give our best to the Lord every day in all ways — dress and appearance included! You have explained it very well here. I am loving this series.

  13. Stacy McDonald says:

    Very good point, Jennifer! Likewise, would you want to drink a glass of water that was murky and discolored, even if you were told it was REALLY clean, it just "looked" dirty?

  14. Cherry says:

    Excellent again Stacy. Wonderful teaching on the part of women. You explain rightly to women how their dress may be a lust to attract others and I don't think women often see that or understand it. The heart is deceitful… In the past I had a couple of times when I would dress lovely and pretty so that my female enemies would think I was attractive and be nice to me! I was not dressing for my Lord, but so others would accept me. A real mistake and it didn't work. I never really figured out what I was thinking. I have learned over the years and have taught all of our daughters, that dressing femininely for Him, always feels good. We are re-reading Raising Maidens and as always it is good. :) Thank you for taking the time to help all of us in our walk before Him.

  15. covnitkepr1 says:

    I love your recipes.
    My first love is Jesus…then my wife of 45 years…then cooking. I really enjoyed looking over you blog. I am now a follower of yours. Feel free to look over my blog and perhaps become a follower of my blog as well.

  16. Jennifer says:

    Thanks! And yes indeed, I'd be very leery about drinking murky water. As it is, I don't even drink from cups with spots in them!

  17. A Married Daughter says:

    You make excellent points regarding the need for women to be modest in their dress before the Lord. However, men can lust after women regardless of how they dress.

    Also, what we wear is only part of our walk as Christians. How we treat others, I believe, is a better witness to non-Christians of our faith in Christ. We could be dressed very nice and modest, but if our attitudes and behaviors portray un-Christ-like behavior, our modest attire in clothing will not do others much good.

  18. Stacy McDonald says:

    Dear Married Daughter,

    You are correct that men may lust after women no matter how they are dressed. Sin lurks in the heart of man, just as it does in the heart of woman. In fact, a man can lust in his mind without a woman even being present.

    I would also say that "what we [choose to] wear" is only one small part of chastity. That is actually what I'll be discussing in a talk I'm giving next weekend here in Illinois.

    You said:

    "We could be dressed very nice and modest, but if our attitudes and behaviors portray un-Christ-like behavior, our modest attire in clothing will not do others much good."

    I would add:

    We could have a great attitude and be very loving, but if our attire communicates harlotry or purposeful filthiness, our great attitude will not do others much good.

    And I would contend that presenting ourselves in a promiscuous or filthy manner is NOT loving or Christ-like. It is in fact part of our "behavior."

  19. Don and Shelly says:

    Sister Stacy,

    You have absolutely addressed a sensitive subject with many believers using nuggets of wisdom that are "pure gold." As the dad of three daughters, I understand the difficulty of finding clothing that is Christ-honoring and in deference to all men… young and old. I am so proud that they came to me, along with my beautiful wife, to ask me if it would be alright to wear modest skirts instead of pants. I was thrilled!– not nearly about a skirt over a pant, but the hearts of girls that wanted to honor Jesus in all things. Not only did I say, "Of course!"… but we also now own three sewing machines.

    In Christ,

    Don

  20. simplyintentionalliving says:

    Hi Stacy-

    I really enjoyed this series, thank you for taking the time to write these posts.

    I e-mailed you a couple of times with questions not related to this post. I e-mailed them to the address given on your blogger profile page. I wanted to make sure that this was an address you check. I know I have several e-mail addresses, but I don't check them all regularly.

    Thank you for your posts and glimpses into your family life. God has used you in amazing ways!

    God Bless!
    Lacey

  21. Mrs. B says:

    Thank you! This subject comes up so often and there always seems to be a round and round on just who IS responsible for lust. It is a two-way street and we need to first and foremost be sure that we must deal with our own sin and encourage others in their struggle against theirs.

    BTW, Don and Shelly….I have not been able to get to your blog. We have been using much of the information there to supplement our marriage class and would like to keep directing couples there … are you still posting?

  22. Linda Albert says:

    Dear LAF,
    There is nothing about the way one is clothed that could make someone appear “dour and severe” unless it was accompanied by a dour and severe expression. My father’s mother was German and very old country; always dressed in dark colors or small print on dark background and very old fashioned plain clothes, flat heeled black shoes (frumpy?), and wore her hair in two coiled braids. Maybe it was just that I was a well-loved grandchild but I thought she was always beaming with light. I actually looked forward to being a grandmother myself (and have been for 14 years now). I also dress ‘old-country’ and feel very close to her though she has been with the Lord for more than 35 years now. She was a role model for me.

  23. Lynette says:

    After being married for 20+ years (to the same man) I have wrestled with this subject personally and seen other women wrestle with it too. There is an area of this topic rarely looked at or ‘tapped’ into. As a married woman who had been abused as a child my ‘purity, or modesty’ came from an unhealthy place of shame and insecurity, not from a God honoring place of freedom. Often I hear other women speak so strongly on the subject but can’t help but wonder if it is a living sanctified or a insecurity/shame about their body, whether produced by abuse or unhealthiness…. Just a struggle I personally have worked through and have seen in other women. This subject needs to be addressed in the heart and moved by Gods spirit.

  24. Jennifer says:

    Urrggh, that Hannah needs a strong arm steering her to a clothing store.

  25. Jennifer says:

    I just read this whole series again; so lovely! I may have sweet dreams tonight :)

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