Dress and appearance are an important index of Christian character. Clothes and appearance are most powerful nonverbal communicators not only of our socioeconomic status, but also of our moral values. We are what we wear. This means that the outward appearance is an important index of Christian character. The Bible recognizes the importance of dress and ornaments as indicated by the numerous stories, allegories, and admonitions that we have found regarding appropriate and inappropriate adorning.
Our outward appearance is a visible and silent testimony of our Christian values. Some people dress and adorn their bodies with costly clothes and jewelry to please themselves. They want to be admired for their wealth, power, or social status. Some dress in accordance with certain fashions to please others. They want to be accepted by their peers by dressing like them. The Christian, however, dresses to glorify God. Clothes are important for Christians because they serve as a frame to reveal the picture of the One whom the Christian serves. “In no better way,” wrote Ellen White, “can you let your light shine to others than in your simplicity of dress and deportment. You may show to all that, in comparison with eternal things, you place a proper estimate upon the things of this life.”1
As Christians we cannot say, “What I look like is no one’s business!” because what we look like reflects on our Lord. My house, my car, my personal appearance, my use of time and money, all reflect how Christ has changed my life from the inside out. When Jesus comes into our lives, He does not cover our blemishes with cosmetic powder, but He cleanses us wholly by working from within. This inner renewal is reflected in the outward appearance.
The most effective witness to the change that Christ has wrought within is not a painted smile on the face of a seductively dressed woman, but a radiant smile on the face of a clean, becomingly dressed woman. A too-sophisticated, coiffured, and made-up appearance, with glittering jewels and extravagant clothes, reveals not the spontaneous radiance of a God-centered personality, but the studied, artificial image of a self-centered individuality.