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Dressing for the Glory of God
Should we have standards for dress and adornment? For answers, let’s first look at the world. Large companies have corporate dress codes because they realize that their image is reflected by how their employees look. They believe that people act as they dress and that a company’s representatives have a lot to do with its reputation. These large corporations insist on a standard for their employees. No one is forced to work for the company, but should anyone wish to be an employee, he or she must comply with the standards.1
As Bible-believing Christians, we define our standards by the teachings of the Word of God. This means that we must respect Biblical standards of dress and ornaments if we are going to keep our identity and unity. “All matters of dress should be strictly guarded, following closely the Bible rule. Fashion has been the goddess who has ruled the outside world, and she often insinuates herself into the church. The church should make the Word of God her standard, and parents should think intelligently upon this subject.”2 If we want to reflect the image of our Master, we need to uphold the principles of dress He has given us in His Word. But here is a problem. If we simply have a concern for external appearance without the right motivation, we may fall into the trap of legalism. So, what should we as Christians do about the sensitive issue of dress and adornment? Should the Church Manual define in detail what church members should wear at home, at work, at play, or at church? That’s what the Pharisees did—and the result was a hollow religion empty of love. Instead, let’s look at another approach:
Ê Education. Many of us don’t know much about what the Bible teaches regarding how to live, including how to dress for Christ. Part of the reason for this is because it is more comfortable to hear about the love of Christ than about the claims of Christ on our lives. When we really love Christ, we will welcome ways to learn more about how to follow Him in every part of the Christian life—whether it is dress, diet, stewardship, health, amusements, work ethics, or devotional life.
Ë Regeneration. Head knowledge is not enough. Sometimes we can know a lot without it making much difference in our life. We say, “What the Bible teaches me in this area is true,” but our hearts say, “I’m not ready to put it into practice in my life.”
The only way to get out of such a life is to allow God to recreate our hearts each day and each hour. He promises, “And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7). When this happens, we will become eager to follow Christ wherever He leads.
Ì Demonstration of Christ’s love. Not everyone will see things the way we do. Some people, for example, do not see anything wrong with dressing in a way that we are not comfortable with. How should we relate to them? The answer is simple: We should love them anyway, because we have Jesus’ heart. Jesus often disagreed with people’s actions, but this did not stop Him from loving them. We can ask Him to help us become an extension of His loving heart, regardless of others’ standards.
1. John T. Molly, New Dress for Success, page 33. 2. Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5, page 499.
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