"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness." (1 Timothy 2:9-10)The "likewise" Paul is referring to here is his command to men that they strive to be free from anger and argument. The "likewise" is a reference to the heart rather than to specific behaviors. However, while formerly he was encouraging men to allow their posture in prayer to reflect the peace and harmony in their hearts, here he is instructing women to allow their outward appearance to be a reflection of a modest and generous heart. Our outward displays mean nothing unless they are rendered from an inward reality of the heart. Peter concurs with Paul writing,
"Your adornment must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear." (1 Peter 3:3-6)The call of God is a call to an inward conformance to what is good and right in the sight of God and of man. What is good and right begins in the heart and then radiates out of us as we prove to be "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14) and a "city set on a hill" (Matthew 5:14) that cannot be hidden.
As believers in Christ, we are called to a life of modesty and sobriety; a life lived with greater regards for the treasures of the heart than for the fleeting treasures of material possessions. Possessions for show are a snare to a modest and temperate heart; desiring the praise and gaze of men more than the praise and favor of God. Jesus asked the Scribes and Paraphrases, "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?" (John 5:44) The same is true with us. When we seek the praise and glory of men, we are diverted from our pursuit of God and we sacrifice the love from God for love from men.
We must ask ourselves, When we get up and get ready each morning, who are we preparing ourselves for? Are we grooming ourselves and dressing in a way to be seen by men? Or are we preparing our hearts to be seen and loved by God? Do we care more about how we are seen by others than we are seen by God? Do we confuse outward beauty for the true beauty that shines from within? God has promised through King David, "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation." (Psalm 149:4) If we desire to be truly beautiful, let us seek for that salvation that comes from above, for nothing is as beautiful than a forgiven and reconciled soul.