Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
“And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself…” Genesis 38:14a (KJV)
If I tell you that there’s a woman coming down the aisle in a long, white, formal dress, what would you say is probably the occasion? It’s a wedding; she’s a bride. How did you know? Because clothing communicates.
If I tell you there’s a Colorado teenager bundled up in a snowsuit, mittens, a wool hat and a scarf would you agree with me that the teenager is probably not on his way to a picnic? Clothing and appearance sends a message. They can communicate the occupation or an occasion the individual is marking. In some of the world’s religions, people are clearly identifiable by their dress apparel.
Clothing can communicate something about our socio-economic status. You can look at some people and think, “He looks like a wealthy person.” Or you might look at another person and purely on the basis of their clothing say, “She doesn’t look like they come from a financially stable background or great values.”
In Genesis 38, we learn of a woman named Tamar, a widow who wanted to seduce a man to whom she was not married. Accordingly, she took off her widow’s garments. Such garments were a specific type of clothing that would have communicated that she was a widow. Tamar, however, changed her clothes and put on the clothing of a prostitute, for the man she was trying to seduce knew her. In fact, he was her father-in-law, but when she changed her clothes, he didn’t recognize who she was. He just looked at her clothes and judging her to be a prostitute, he went in to be sexually intimate with her. Of course, I point that out not to justify him, but to demonstrate that clothing can send a powerful message.
Many people are playing with fire in the way they dress. Dressing like a floozy tells the world, ‘Look at me, want me, lust after me. I’m easy and you can have me.’ Displaying intimate parts of the body is a form of advertising for sex. Clothing and appearance are some of the most powerful and important means we have of sending a message about our hearts and our values.
So here’s the question. What do your clothes and your appearance communicate about you. What message are you sending? Is the message you’re sending consistent with what you really believe, or are you sending a mixed message? Are you thinking one thing in your heart, but sending a message that you don’t intend or ought not to send with your outward appearance?
I find, today, that there are a lot of people who really do have a heart for the Lord. They may be faithfully involved in a local church. And they may be actively involved in gospel ministry. And they may lift up their hands in joyful acclamation to the Lord when singing songs of praise. And yet, many of these very same people may also be totally oblivious of the message that they are sending with their body and with their clothing.
Their clothing is communicating something far different than what’s in their hearts. Unfortunately, this issue represents an area where too many Christians have accepted the secular world’s way of thinking, with the rationalization that “Maybe it’s okay as long as we just don’t go to the farthest extremes.”
That’s why we have to go back to the Word of God and ask, “What is God thinking about all this? What message should we be sending? And how can we send that message with our clothing and with our outer appearance?” The way we think, the way we act, the choices we make, the way we relate to others, and yes, even the way we dress sends a message.
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