BE ADORNED WITH GOOD WORKS
1 Tim 2:9-10 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
Verses preceding the lesson text infer that at all times, but especially when assembled for worship services with all members of the body of Christ, men are admonished to pray, that the message of eternal salvation be taught in its truth and purity. And it was to be demonstrated by lifting up holy hands,that are ready and willing to use the talents and abilities they possess, in performing deeds of kindness and charity for others. These godly Christian men were to teach and preach the message of salvation, not only to members of the church of Christ, but also to all people within their realm of influence, throughout in the world that surrounds them. Within the body of Christ, faithful and obedient men have a tremendous responsibility in demonstrating their love for God and for all mankind.
Christian women also have an extremely important role in the church of Christ. In like manner also, ...women (are to) adorn themselves ...with good works. When compared to their outward appearance, the good things they do, must be far more prominent in the sight of God and all others. The price God places on a woman adorned with good works, far exceeds the value of their outward adornment of apparel, hairstyle, jewelry, or any other costly array. This is God's command for women. By inspiration, Paul, in the lesson text, says that this command carries with it the same authority as his inspired teaching for Christian men. And that authority is God, Himself.
The question that seems to cause much debate, and must be answered by all Christian women, is this: "What is modest apparel?" It certainly does not mean that the attire of women lack cleanliness, neatness, and appropriateness. To neglect ones appearance in the assembly of Christians, would cause as much distraction as a person that is obviously over adorned. In the lesson text, Paul does not give a definite description of modest apparel. A woman clad in the toga-like clothing worn during the first century could be just as immodest as a woman wearing clothing representing the fashions generally worn in present times. We have all seen women wearing fine jewelry, attired in expensive clothing, having well groomed hair, that continually demonstrate true godliness in their teaching, works of kindness, and charity. We have also seen women that are poorly attired in appearance, that are just as poorly clad in good Christian deeds.
The doctrine of New Testament faith does not condemn the wearing of goodly apparel, beautiful accessories, nor the makeup normally adorning women that desire an attractive appearance. The same God that created the beauty found in roses, songbirds, rainbows, and majestic purple mountains, certainly expects women to exemplify beauty in both their physical appearance as well as their righteous character. This we know: the outward apparel and accessories of beauty worn by women, must not distract, prevent, or attract more attention than the good works,and inner beauty of the Christian woman herself.
In Proverbs, chapter 31, and beginning at verse 10, we find the description of a virtuous woman;a woman with high moral character; one that is chaste, righteous, and industrious; a woman that is filled with awe toward her Maker, having attained the necessary strength to face the evils that comes before her every day of her life, and wins the battle through godly wisdom. She has the trust of her husband, and is good to him (Vss. 11-12); She works with her hands, and provides food and clothing for her family (Vss. 13-19); She reaches out her caring hands to help the poor, ...(and) the needy (Vs. 20), She clothes her family with scarlet, and herself with fine tapestry, silk, and purple (Vss. 21-22); she is also clothed with strength and honor (Vs. 25); She is wise, kind, and not given to idleness; Her children, ...husband, and her God, bless and praise her (Vss. 28, 30); She partakes freely of the things she makes with her hands, but it is her own works (for her family and for others),that praise her in the gates she goes out of and comes back in (Vs. 31). Here we find a woman filled with virtuousness, very well attired in tapestry, silk, and purple, but also clothed with good, moral characteristics that God requires of the women ,that are included in His family.
Used properly, goodly apparel was not condemned in Old Testament days, and neither is it condemned in the New Covenant era. From the description of a virtuous woman, we know that God did not look unfavorably on her costly attire. Rather, He looked upon her good deeds of unselfish devotion and kindness, toward her family, as well as her charitable generosity toward the poor and needy. God does not look on the attire one wears, but He does look into their hearts to find the motive for which they are worn. Likewise, God does not look on one's good works, but He does look upon the reasons such deeds of kindness are given. In both instances, if attire is worn in order to be seen of others, or if deeds of kindness are performed to receive the applause of mankind, God condemns both, and there is never a spiritual reward.
The clothing, accessories, and beautification accents worn by women are to be chosen and worn with shamefacedness and sobriety. The appearance of women is to express modesty as well as moderation. Yet, to avoid unnecessary notice to themselves, their dress should follow the customs of the culture in the era as well as the geographical area in which they live. However, regardless of the period or area lived in, women must never present themselves in a showy, falsely alluring, tawdry, or sensual fashion. The appearance of women should never be designed to attract the admiration, or flattering attention, of others.
The apostle, Peter, gave us these inspired thoughts about how women should be seen: they should demonstrate a godly conversation, or manner of life; they should not be outwardly adorned to be seen of others; they should be adorned inwardly with things that are not corruptible, such as meekness, a quiet spirit, and such other charities of kindness, that are seen by God, and on which God places greater value; they are to gladly fill the roles assigned to them by God (See 1 Pet. 3:1-5). Speaking particularly about aged women, Paul wrote that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).
Let Dorcas be a good example for the charitable deeds that are to be noticed in the lives of women. She lived in Joppa and was well known as a women full of good works and almsdeeds, which she did. She was specifically mentioned as having made coats and garments to fill the need of the widows of the town in which she lived (See Acts 9:36,39). All we know about her is found in verses 36-42. However, notice in these verses that nothing is said about the outward appearance of Dorcas - her clothing, hairstyle, nor other adornments of beauty. What we do know about her was her good works, which far outshined her physical appearance. This was her legacy. What she wore is lost in biblical history. She is remembered only for her good works of love, kindness and charity - this is the scriptural lesson she left for all Christian women.
Women should, with modesty, shamefacedness, and sobriety, have a good outward appearance, but one that does not detract from their Christian character. However, to become, and remain, righteous in the sight of God, they should also be adorned with good works that outshine their physical appearance. Let this example be the reason they are looked up to, admired, and emulated by their families, by their friends and neighbors, by their fellow Christians, and by the world in which they live.