Today's writing is dedicated to women who live modestly and who dress, speak, act, and live with self-respect and reverence for God.
Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. While it focuses on Christian teaching, I pray persons of varied faiths will find inspiration here. Indeed, "God" can be whatever image helps us trust in the Sacred, by whatever means Grace touches us each. Please share this ministry with others, and I hope you return soon. There is a new offering daily. And to be placed on the daily OneLife email list, to request notifications of new writings or submit prayer requests, write to email@example.com .
Rev Dr Brian K Wilcox, MDiv, MFT, PhD
Pastor-Teacher, Author, Workshop Leader, Spiritual Counselor, Chaplain
Brian encourages support of the 4-Star Christian organization Compassion, which supports children worldwide; for more see www.compassion.com .
0 Jesus! Mirror of Truth,
symbol of unity,
link of Charity,
remember the multitude of wounds
with which Thou was covered from head to foot,
torn and reddened by the spilling of Thy adorable Blood,
0 Great and Universal Pain
which Thou didst suffer in Thy virginal Flesh for Love of us!
What is there that Thou couldst have done for us
which Thou hast not done!
May the fruit of Thy sufferings be renewed
in my soul by the faithful remembrance of Thy Passion,
and may Thy Love increase in my heart each day,
until I see Thee in eternity,
Thou Who art the treasury of every real good and every joy,
which I beg Thee to grant me,
0 Sweetest Jesus,
*A Prayer of St. Bridget. See www.catholicdoors.com .
LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE
9 And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. 10 For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.
*I Timothy 2.9-10 (GNB)
RECEIVING SACRED TEACHING
I was asked by a woman to attend a religious gathering at the jail where I serve as Senior Chaplain. I had never met her. When I did, I could barely take my eyes from her eyes. What I saw was a beauty that was beyond human, truly godly. The woman was not adorned in any way, or has been since when I have seen her, in a way to try to make herself beautiful. Rather, while she is physically attractive, the loveliness she emanates is a beauty of Spirit - a beauty that flows from a modest lady, who gives her heart to God and in service for others. She lives simply, she is beautiful. She has traveled to several countries doing mission work, and serves the "least of these" now in the county in which I live. Her beauty is non-cosmetic; the beauty of a lady with modesty, self-respect, reverence for God, and good works to others who need the love of Christ.
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An oriental story tells of a group of elderly and cultured gentlemen who met often to exchange wisdom and drink tea. Each host tried to find the finest, most costly varieties of tea. Each wanted to create exotic blends to arouse the admiration of his guests. When the most venerable, respected of the group entertained, he served tea with unprecedented ceremony, even measuring the leaves from a golden box. The group praised this exquisite tea. The host smiled; he said, "The tea you have found so tasteful is the same tea our peasants drink. I hope it will be a reminder to you that the good things in life are not necessarily the rarest or the most costly.”
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St. Paul counsels the Pastor, Timothy, to instruct women in his church about proper attire. This attire pertains to a witness of the faith community in its need to assert and clarify values to a largely pagan culture. Yet, this instruction applies equally to men. Have you ever seen a male walking about, so attired to call attention to himself, to say, "Look how good I look"?
Have you ever seen a man or woman on the beach so dressed - or largely undressed - to be repulsive to the eyes, to say to everyone, "I can show what I want, it's my right, and if you don't like it, you can look the other way"? Is that Christian? Is that modesty? Is that a lady? A gentleman? Or is it that being a lady and gentleman no longer matters?
No. That is not Christlike, that is repulsive. We are, above all, to call attention to Christ. If our dress or behavior says to others, "That is not Christlike," but we claim to be in Christ, then, we need to re-examine our confession of Christ.
Fitting is the note on this passage in the Life Application Study Bible:
Modesty and decency are the key words. All women would do well to remember that beauty begins on the inside. A gentle, modest, loving character gives a light to the face that cannot be duplicated by even the best cosmetics. A carefully groomed and well-decorated exterior is artificial and cold unless inner beauty is present. The general rule for both women and men emphasizes that both behavior and dress must express submission to and respect for Jesus Christ.
What St. Paul does is continue to focus on reverence, as he did with the men. For in verse 8 we read: "So, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up their hands in a holy manner, without anger and arguments" (I Timothy 2.8, GNT). The lifting of hands was a way of expressing reverence.
Therefore, this applies to the dress of women, and by extension to men, also. Dress is to reflect reverence for the Church and for Christ. Dress is to say, "I respect my brothers and sisters in Christ. I respect God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I respect myself as a child of God."
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Clothing fashion in our society is driven by money, not modesty. The Christian is to seek modesty in all things. We cannot say, "I reverence Christ," and, at the same time, say, "But I can wear whatever suits my fancy. I can wear things that draw attention to myself pridefully." We cannot say, "I follow Christ, yet, I must stay in style." No.
When I say, "I love Christ," I am saying, "All my life is to reflect reverence for Christ." Everything is to come under the calling to be a witness of Christ to others.
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If you have anything in your home, including your clothing, that does not reflect reverence for Jesus Christ, then, get it out. It does not belong. Do not give it away. Get it dumped or burn it yourself as an offering of Love to Christ.
* * *
I recall several years back reading a book. The book was a spiritual book, and did not appear wrong to me. Yet, I sensed the Spirit keep telling me to get rid of it. I, at last, followed the guidance. I did not finish the book. I took it outside. I set it afire. I felt within a peace, that for some reason I had taken from my life and mind something that Spirit was seeing as not fitting for me to read.
Reflect on what you wear, where you go, what you say, what you do, what you think ... - Are you adorned with reverence for yourself, others, and God?
Rev Dr Brian K Wilcox
June 10, 2009
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*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian K. Wilcox, of SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis. Brian is an ecumenical spiritual leader, open to how Christ manifests in the diversity of Christian denominations and varied religious-spiritual traditions. He is Senior Chaplain for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, Punta Gorda, FL.
*Brian welcomes responses to his writings or submission of prayer requests at firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.
*Contact the above email to book Brian for Spiritual Direction, retreats, or workshops. You can order his book An Ache for Union at major book dealers.