Modesty in Thought
By Lance Mosher
What does the Bible say about modesty? Often, when we ask that question, we are asking about what the Bible says in regard to our wardrobe. While our wardrobe is addressed with modesty in mind, modesty is not exclusively a wardrobe principle. When someone is modest, he or she is unassuming in his or her estimation of self. In that regard, the Bible addresses modesty in thought much more than modesty in dress.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
THE PLACE OF SELF
What does the world say about self? In our days, there is so much emphasis on what we think of ourselves. In the world-views of evolution and humanism, self is supreme, which makes perfect sense. If you have convinced yourself that there is nothing more than mere physical existence, and there is nothing greater than the human mind, why not put self on top? If it’s yours, flaunt it. If you have accomplished it, boast in it. Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dreams. After all, your dreams are more important than they are, and nothing will matter in the end, anyway.
If you know anything about Jesus, however, you know that Jesus did not subscribe to the world’s teachings on self. Instead, He was modest in thought. Corresponding to His attitude, He provided the two greatest commandments.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Christian is one who has put God at the top of the list. Jesus said that if we love anyone more than we love Him, we are not worthy of Him (Matt. 10:37-39). Is that vanity on Christ’s part? Not for a second.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… We love Him because He first loved us.
Secondly, the Christian is one who thinks of others. While the world says, “Look out for number one,” Christ says, “Be modest in thought.”
Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Every action is first a thought. When one is following the above commandments of the Lord, all actions will first filter through the love test. Is God’s glory my priority? Am I representing the sacrifice and love of Christ? Will my actions build up or destroy? It takes seconds and little effort to destroy. It takes invested time and great love to build up. Which one will you be known for?
THE RENEWAL PROCESS
The apostle Peter refers to Christians as people who have been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). The building blocks of the world of darkness are selfish motives. The building blocks of Christ’ kingdom are “living stones,” Christians confessing Christ by thought, action, mouth, and priorities. Let’s revisit the first verse quotation, but in context this time.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
To fit into the world’s mold, we must first exalt self. Christ has a higher calling and is ready to transform His disciples through a renewed mind. He teaches us to treat others the way we like to be treated (Matt. 7:12). He teaches us to love our spouses as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:22-33). He teaches us to do good to all people (Gal. 6:10). He teaches us to be associated with humility (Rom. 12:16). He teaches us to be modest in thought.
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.
Admittedly, walking in the steps of Jesus is a challenge and is impossible to do perfectly. But the journey is worth it all, not to mention the glories of the destination.
The world provides its idols: celebrities, riches, mansions, fancy cars, and the latest gadgets. There’s no wonder why depression is one of the fastest-growing health issues in first-world countries (Healthline.com). Behold, the product and trophy of selfishness! On the other hand, those who are Christ’s and are modest in thought have true opportunity to “rejoice always,” even during the tough times (Phil. 4:4-8).
The first disciples were twelve normal, simple men. In many respects, they were like most of us. They had average education. They had loving families. They had to work for their income. Christ called them to stop existing and start living lives worth living. Unfortunately, one of the twelve destroyed himself and betrayed Christ out of purely selfish motives (Matt. 26:14-16). However, at the end of following Jesus for three years, the eleven other disciples went out to practice what they had learned. They had transformed lives and renewed minds. They were in the world, but not of the world (John 17:15-19). They were full of compassion and love for one another, and people noticed it. Christ’s opponents claimed that the disciples’ newfound dedication to modest thinking had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). They were far from perfect, but by the blood of Christ, they were perfected in Christ (Col. 1:28). With them, we can say, “by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).
It’s true that evolution and humanism can only logically promote selfishness. Survival of the fittest and pure kindness do not work together. However, every day, even those who subscribe to such world-views attempt to promote modest thinking. In the past few years, it has become popular to commit “random acts of kindness” and to “pay it forward.” Kindness to others in place of selfish interests is the essence of modest thought. However, it is impossible for modest thinking to be a product of mindless evolution. It stems from the part of God that is within us all (Gen. 1:27; Rom. 2:12-16).
We all struggle with selfishness at times. Instead of looking out for others, we are tempted to forget them and pursue our desires at any cost. Only afterwards does the wake of destruction come into view. God, transform our lives, renew our minds, help us to be modest in thought, and let our actions reflect the love of Christ.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.