How important is our clothing?
This morning I attended a small women’s group at a church. We had been assigned reading from a book of sermons. Tired and stressed, I got up early on Saturday morning, looking forward to a hearing words about faith, God, and mutual encouragement. That did NOT happen.
Instead I sat through nearly an hour of discussion on how important it is to dress well, and keep hair and make-up done. A couple of women tried to steer this conversation toward biblical concepts of not judging people on outward appearance, or about receiving the other regardless of appearance. This was NOT well received. Instead, the conversation reverted to "What Not To Wear,” and held up the benefits of a new $5,000 wardrobe and makeover.
Especially in these difficult economic times, I was dismayed by this focus on good hairdos, and make-up, and judging each other by clothing. Is this what we need church groups to spend time on?
The meeting’s message was clearly that one must dress to some arbitrary standard, or one is not welcome in this group.
As Christians, I hope we welcome people’s hearts, even when they can’t afford a haircut, or highlights. I hope that we encourage people to attend church, and hear about God’s love, regardless of their clothing.
But this meeting raised valid questions. How important is our clothing?
How much energy should we invest in personal appearance?
What is a healthy life balance from God's perspective?
To this end, I offer three brief bible passages for our contemplation.
We also might benefit from reflecting on Rule of Benedict Chapter 55-On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren or RB Chapter 4-What are the Instruments of Good Works
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:28-33 (EVS) (Emphasis mine) Link to Matthew 6
38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:38-40 (EVS) Link to Matthew 25
…9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 1Timothy 2:9-10 (EVS) Link to 1Timothy 2