This is a tough one. The godly disciplines we have covered thus far for women have been mostly spiritual in nature - elements of our walk with the Lord where the work occurs mostly (though not exclusively) on the inside. Including the disciplines of the mind, contentment, prayer, worship, and knowing the gospel. Today we deal with the outside. That is, what we display broadly to the world and narrowly to the person right next to us.
Today we cover propriety. This corresponds to chapter 8 in Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes. Our propriety means our “appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances” (dictionary.com). What is our “purpose or circumstances” as Christian women? Paul nails it in the verse above. We are to act in a way that is “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Our circumstance: we are redeemed and purchased by the blood of Jesus. Our purpose: to glorify him by sharing his gospel.
Therefore, our behavior as Christian women should always center on the gospel. How we dress, talk, and carry ourselves should all reflect one singular message. That message is the good news that Jesus saves us from damnation when we turn from sin and believe in him.
I told you that this is an external aspect of our walk with the Lord. And it very much is - it is our presentation of Christ to the watching world. However, it always begins from within. Propriety is a matter of the heart. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil,” Luke 6:25.
Let’s look at three areas briefly:
Appearance and dress: It may seem difficult to dress for the gospel, but it isn’t. The simple question to ask yourself is this: “Will what I am wearing distract from the message of the gospel?” If so, don’t wear it. You dress to please your Savior, not other women or men. If married, your husband will be pleased with what pleases God. A Christian woman does not dress to seduce, for power, to make herself feel good, or to impress others. Our beauty and worth comes from who we are in Christ, not our wardrobe. Should we care about out appearance? Yes, indeed. As it states in Proverbs 31:25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing.” We Christian women are to cloth ourselves in what reflects our position as daughters of the King. We are his image bearers and “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Therefore we adorn ourselves with what honors our God. This will include proper clothing, but also a humble spirit (1 Peter 5:5), good works (1 Tim. 2:9) and a gentle, quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Godly beauty is life changing because it comes from a changed life in Christ.
Words: God has made the tongue POWERFUL. Words can hurt and words can heal. How we speak to others has great bearing on the proclamation of the gospel. If we allow gossip, flattery, complaints and criticism to flow unchecked from our mouths, do you think many will listen to the message of hope we bring in the name of Jesus? We all need to work on taming our tongue to obey God. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph. 4:29. Use your words to direct others to Jesus and not away. Fill yourself with the Word of God so that you can share it with others. His words alone save and give hope.
Attitude: How often do you have to give yourself an attitude check? For me, it’s daily hourly. I struggle with a desire for control, a critical spirit, wanting approval, harboring bitterness, a haughty spirit and even pity parties. All of it boils down to one major sin category: PRIDE. You have it too. And though we try to hide it, pride will always rear its ugly head eventually. We are told in James 4:6-7, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.” Humility is the antidote to pride. Galatians 6:3, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” We must humbly admit we can do nothing without God. We must submit to God and his Word. We deal with pride by treasuring up God’s words in our hearts that we might not sin against him (Ps. 119:11).
The condition of the heart will always be on display in our behavior and attitudes. Ladies, remember to check your hearts often. Does your propriety line up with your claim to be a devoted follow of Jesus? We are to live in a manner “worthy of the gospel.” We can only do this when we have a heart that has been transformed by the gospel. This transformation should be seen by others when they look at you, listen to you and get to know you. Show them Christ!