This is an older article so some of you may have read this, but perhaps if you enjoyed it the first time, you will enjoy a refresher. I believe it is a good follow-up to Veronica's article last week and a needful reminder as we go into the summer months and consider our state of dress, or undress as we shop for the latest fashions.
I always dread it when someone invites me to go shopping, or ends a perfectly delightful conversation with: “we should go shopping sometime!” I stand there in a panic, trembling, and mumble my regrets, afraid to make eye contact. Several years ago I was asked to go shopping with some Christian women I didn’t know very well and I didn’t want to appear anti-social, so I agreed. I was told that we would leave around 8:00 a.m. I thought: “Fantastic! That means I’ll be home by early afternoon and have the day to do all kinds of chores!” It sounded perfect for me. I wasn’t that lucky; we returned home about 7:00 p.m. I was exhausted, and quite honestly, traumatized. I admit it, I’m out of step, but I’ve known that for a long time now. I also admit that I shop from time to time, and even enjoy it, when I am in the company of someone who is like-minded. However, I fear shopping has become the number one pastime for many Christian women and as a result, has lead many women down the path to immodesty.
Not only do I dislike shopping in general, I especially hate it during this time of the year-- spring and summer. Sifting through the latest fashion trends to find something that is wearable is exhausting, and making my way through the racks of spaghetti strap blouses with built in bras, bikinis and hot pants leaves me teary-eyed. I usually drive home without having purchased one item, deep in prayer, apologizing to our Lord for the kind of people we have become. When most of us think about modesty, we automatically consider how people are dressed, or perhaps more accurately, the state of “undress.” But, there is another modesty issue that the Lord is also very clear about that I believe is often neglected, and is one of the reasons why I rarely shop. The Lord is explicit about the sinful act of focusing on our “outward appearance” in general: "Whose adorning [women] let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden [person] of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (I Peter 3:3-4)
The world preys upon women’s vanity. It is impossible to ignore the constant inundation through media outlets by companies advertising new clothes for each season, or the latest “hot” fashion trend. We are familiar with Jesus’ teaching regarding the rich man who was blessed with great abundance, and decided to build bigger barns (see Lk 12:16-20). The end of this parable was tragic; his life was required of him because of his greed. The Lord reminded His listeners: “So he [she] that layeth up treasure for himself [herself] is not rich toward God” (v. 21). This teaching can equally be applied to building bigger closets.
Furthermore, the time we spend shopping can overshadow the time we have been blessed with to give ourselves to the Lord’s work. We should not forget the great example of the church in Macedonia who first gave of themselves (see II Cor. 8:5). When we spend our days shopping for new, unnecessary clothes that will call attention to ourselves and make us more attractive to others, it reinforces our focus on self. Collecting beautiful clothes, accessories and shopping can even become an idol, taking the majority of our time and money (see Matt. 6:21). I have known women who proudly proclaim they can “shop ‘till they drop,” and seem to do just that, shopping from sun up to sundown every weekend, travel hours upon hours looking for “just the right outfit,” or traveling to the latest and greatest mall, but are too tired to assemble with the saints for Bible study in Sunday morning Bible class, worship their Lord on Sunday night, gather with the church for Wednesday night Bible class (see Heb. 10:23-25), teach a Bible class, visit the sick, prepare snacks for visitors who attend our gospel meetings, or are just too tired to prepared a simple meal for a needy person (see Matt. 25:31-46; I Cor. 15:58; Gal 6:9-10).
Yes, I hate shopping. For me it is exhausting, depressing, and overwhelming. But, I do not believe one will find shopping condemned as evil, or wrong in the Lord’s word; it is necessary, but pales in comparison to the privilege of giving our money, doing good to others, and time we spend with Him in reading His word and meditating on the jewels found in it, teaching and encouraging others, and spending time in prayer with our beloved Father (see Matt. 6:33). Before I head out the door to shop, perhaps the question I need to ask is: Is this really needful? Jesus said:“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:42). My time studying and serving the Lord is needful and necessary, but a new spring outfit for others to admire? Well, not so much.
I Chr 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.