The Need for Modesty (and Keeping things Personal)

Walking around our neighborhood tonight with a good friend, I shared the desire to keep more of my heart private. Our friendship is a place of honesty in my life, and we related over how God can provide us more room to remain small (and in my case, keep my mouth shut.) After a long time of drifting towards the idea of external blessedness, there is this newer force to save a decent portion of good things back. Let me explain.

Even as I write this, I’ve had more time to think over it. Saving the best parts of you back for God, for your relationships, and for people to get to know you over time isn’t an immediate change, but it is definitely wise. You see all these freshman starting up their college journeys, and after all this time, I’ve learned a lot about the value of friendship. Guarding your heart isn’t just a romantic concept, it’s the practice of not throwing your pearls before swine, i e keeping gifts and blessings holy and cherished.

I don’t believe this makes a person selfish, in fact, I think it’s practical. If God is in us and we are in him, then keeping some back just displays less desire to prove yourself. It’s a well adjusted thing that allows others some spot light. You don’t diminish from yourself, but the fact of the matter is, it’s just not about you. So why am I writing this?

I’m writing mostly because I think it’s a happy adjustment. It is easier to share personally than to explain through stories or external-to-me examples. If we all need Jesus, then it’s possible that someone else may benefit from hearing how his grace is working in my life, and what he’s teaching me. If we are all in a state of dependence, then it goes as an assumption that we would help one another. I can’t guarantee that this will help anyone nor does help at it’s core actually come from me, but as of right in this moment, I want to be honest about this. It’s part of the reason I think it’s important to keep conversations about God’s glory and his works in our lives personal, so that we can genuinely encourage and respect one another, and so that our narratives don’t become nasty cardboard statues.

What does any of this have to do with modesty?

Well, it has to do with the practice of trying to cultivate a spirit of health and contribute to other’s well being. If love doesn’t insist in it’s own way, isn’t jealous, can afford to be patient, and is consistently kind, then it isn’t up to me to be heard. It isn’t my duty to feel important. God’s grace isn’t dependent on whether any of us are special in the eyes of others. His love has nothing to do with that, and it cannot be diminished by mankind’s worldly counsel. What can any of us teach God? Modesty allows you to have more time invested in God and let him just be who he is. It doesn’t demand you use your energy to suit your own interests or the interests of others. It doesn’t insist that you prioritize things that will eventually leave your time and the breath of life in you wasted. If we value life as much as we claim, then we value the root of life in Christ and understand that by his Spirit, we have health. We can learn healthy practices that by the grace of God will influence the rest of our lives and how we raise our children and influence the generations that come after us.

This life is a work in progress, but we do have freedom to decide what we do with our time. Keeping some back and remaining modest makes it so that we can remember that God is our greatest priority, and the rest really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t. It really freaking doesn’t. In comparison to the Giver of grace, the rest of this is genuinely insignificant.

Why not structure your life in a way that reminds you of him if you’re genuinely seeking him? If you save more back, there is less corresponding day by day pressure to make more of yourself. I promise. If you assume a posture of submission in your daily life, it won’t be as easy to buy into the temptation that you are more than you are. God doesn’t need you to be more to think good of you. That is an “us” thing, not a him thing. He loves us past the worst state you can imagine. His weakness on the cross. He doesn’t feel ashamed to love those of us who appear broken, even though all of us are broken. There is no hypocrisy in him, and he truly doesn’t care about the lies we tell ourselves. He doesn’t need our truth over his own. Our truth isn’t actually a thing. So.

Here we are with a limited lifespan that feels over too quickly, so why don’t we spend more time with God? If God loves the humble and opposes the proud, isn’t it worth it enough to want to be more like him? The desire to be modest should be part of our walk even if we currently aren’t modest. We can work towards a smaller stature together, you guys. None of you are my servant to judge, so I promise I wouldn’t be harsh if anyone were to admit weakness. If we can’t be weak together, then we really aren’t family anyways.

If the world needs to know who God is, they aren’t going to find out unless we can be made more humble. It’s not fun to listen to hypocrites no matter what they say, even if what they’re selling is ultimately good. Most of us are already tuned out by then. The need to remain leaning towards genuine hearts is the dependence to which we are made and called, and it’s easier to abide in if you can meaningfully reflect on the idea of modesty.


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I am a second-grade teacher and pastor-to-be who loves people. I spend my weekends with friends or wandering the museums of DC alone and with a journal, trying to put words on the places of the soul that still feel wordless. I spent most of my days at school trying to learn patience through my students and running on sheer nerdy passion. I follow Jesus Christ, and savor that as my most important identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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