Modesty Is for Everyone
WHO says modesty is for everyone? None other than God himself in his Word the Bible. Where? At Micah 6:8, where we read: “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest walking with your God?”
Modesty is not a popular quality; one seldom if ever reads anything about it, and the modern trend is to disparage it. That is a sad mistake. Modesty is important or Jehovah God would not command it. In fact, all the miseries of the world might be traced to a lack of it; that is how important modesty is. How so? In that Satan the Devil placed before Eve, the first woman, the prospect of becoming like her Maker, Jehovah God. Had Eve had any modesty, she would have exclaimed, “Why, that’s unthinkable!” which it really was. But because of her lack of modesty she felt flattered and so yielded to temptation. Her husband deliberately chose to follow her example, and so sin and death came into the world.—Gen. 3:1-19; Rom. 5:12.
Of course, strictly speaking, there is more than one kind of modesty. There is the modesty that is associated with purity, with shame and the proper conduct between the sexes. There is also the use of the word “modest” meaning unpretentious, such as a modest income, a modest home or cottage, and so forth. However, here we are concerned with its original basic meaning, in which sense modesty is for everyone. The English word “modesty” comes from the Latin stem modestus, which means “keeping due measure.” Accordingly, we find leading dictionaries of the English language giving among their definitions for “modest” and “modesty” the following: “Moderation, self-control. Having a moderate opinion of oneself; reserve springing from an unexaggerated estimate of one’s qualities; freedom from ostentation, arrogance or impudence.” “Awareness of one’s limitations.”
Modesty invariably implies measurement, comparison, with other persons or with what could be. Thus man is commanded to walk modestly with his God, for look how great God is compared with man. Yes, “God is in the heavens but you are on the earth. That is why your words should prove to be few.” For that very reason modesty does not apply to God; he is incomparable and his qualities are infinite, limitless.—Eccl. 5:2.
That we should avoid having an exalted opinion of ourselves is apparent from the counsel of the apostle Paul at Romans 12:3; “Through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind.” It is necessary to think something of ourselves, but modesty does not cause one to think too much of oneself; neither does it cause one to think too little of oneself. It does not give one an inferiority complex.
It follows, then, that modesty on the part of young people shows that they are developing a balanced outlook, that they are thinking so as to have a sound mind. It will keep them from finding fault, from bragging, from swaggering, from acting impudently or calling undue attention to themselves. Modesty dictates that youth should not dominate the conversation when in the presence of elders; modesty does not allow for youth to insist on its own choice against that of its parents, as when, for example, it is a question as to which television program the family is to enjoy.
Likewise, modesty is becoming to womankind. We cannot escape the Scriptural dictum that ‘the feminine vessel is the weaker one.’ Her being willing to ‘play second fiddle’ will make for contentment and happiness in the home. But failing to admit this truth to herself can only result in frustration and unhappiness, to her spouse and to herself.—1 Pet. 3:7.
However, modesty is not only for women and children; it is for everyone, as Jesus Christ, the greatest man that ever walked the earth, showed both by example and by precept. He at all times recognized his inferior position and took no credit to himself. When a ruler once addressed him, “Good Teacher,” Jesus replied: “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God.” And he taught his followers modesty when he told them: “So you, also, when you have done all the things assigned to you, say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. What we have done is what we ought to have done.’”—Luke 18:18, 19; 17:10; John 5:19, 30; 14:28.
Yes, modesty is for everyone, for no one has any grounds for boasting: “Who makes you to differ from another? Indeed, what do you have that you did not receive? If, now, you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as though you did not receive it?” Surely modesty rules out all boasting because of skin color, wealth, mental or physical abilities or skills.—1 Cor. 4:7.
Modesty also is for everyone because it is the safe course. He who is modest does not take undue risks. He does not needlessly gamble with his life, neither his present one nor his eternal, future life, as does the Christian who toys with immorality. That is why Christians are commanded: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” “Happy is the man that is feeling dread constantly.” Taking due account of one’s weaknesses, one’s limitations, is modesty and a safeguard against temptation and flattery. Remember Eve!—Phil. 2:12; Prov. 28:14.
Further, modesty is for everyone in that it makes for good relations with others, even as it works for good relations with God. Modesty helps to prevent rivalry and contentiousness. Modesty keeps husbands and wives from making unreasonable demands of each other. It keeps children from expecting too much from their parents. Modesty is even fitting in our prayers—they should not betray greed or undue ambition. Modesty contributes to contentment, which, together with godliness, is great gain.—1 Tim. 6:6.
Truly, modesty is for everyone. Happy are the modest! How much better a place this world would be if more appreciated that fact!