Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sermon Silence Can be Golden

This morning I preached from Philippians 4:8-9. Paul writes, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

As I preached, I emphasized the importance of God's children thinking in a manner that honors Him. Paul commands us to meditate (and go on meditating) upon whatever has the positive characteristics mentioned above. Meditation requires time, effort, patience, and determination.

This morning, as I studied the passage prior to the worship service, I felt led by the Lord to discuss the issue of modesty. In most churches these days, the lack of modesty is a significant problem. Some women choose to not wear enough, and many of the men appear to approve of this. I waded into this topic with more than a bit of fear and trepidation.

As I was speaking, I talked about the need for men to think only about what honors God. I didn't mention the issue of lust in particular, but we all knew what I was discussing (this is also an issue for women, but to a lesser degree). After talking to the men, I asked the women to help us men by dressing modestly. I specifically asked the ladies that if they are unsure if an outfit is modest, then they should not wear it.

While all this was going on, something very interesting happened. I could tell that the church was listening because the sanctuary went dead quiet. There was absolutely no sound other than the air conditioning. During most sermons, there is always a little noise such as papers being folded, people moving in their seats, or quiet whispers. As I discussed modesty, there was none of that. Interestingly, it was silent even though I didn't ask for this response in any way. I didn't change my vocal pitch, tone, or volume. It was the subject that grabbed them.

I'm not sure whether or not the people approved of what I was saying, but I know they heard me. I'm interested to see whether or not any behavior change occurs. I pray that the Holy Spirit will make this happen.

11 comments:

RHEA said...

When it comes to modesty, I think that the whole "when it doubt, don't wear it rule" is the way to go. I'm very modest/conservative in my clothing, but that idea is definitely something that I try to impart on my sisters in Christ.

Eric said...

Rhea,

This is a difficult issue because it is so easy to fall into legalism.

I agree with the idea that if there is doubt, then it should not be worn. Women can really help men a lot by covering up appropriately.

Jason Fisher said...

Eric,
My wife, I believe, does a great job at this and she has said that when understood from a love of the brethren perspective it is easy to stay out of legalism.

She doesn't want to cause her brothers to stumble because she loves them.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

I said once before that you reminded me of myself many years ago. I also was rather naive where our fairer sex was concerned. You know, "sugar and spice and all things nice".

Brother, your comment,"(this is also an issue for women, but to a lesser degree)". Absolutely not true!

This I can promise you, as you attend to pastoral duties,you will, one day, be shocked, as I was.

Be prepared and armed! That is my caring advice to a brother at battle front.

Eric said...

Jason,

It sounds like both you and your wife are on the same page that my wife and I are on. Making specific rules about what to wear will accomplish little, especially from a heart standpoint. However, when women dress modestly out of love for God and their Christian brothers, then it is a beautiful thing.

Eric said...

John,

Thanks for commenting. It is good to hear from Down Under.

I agree with you that lust is an issue for women, but I do believe that men are more visually stimulated than women are. I have heard many men and women say this. Because of this, I think modesty of dress within the church is something that women can greatly help men with. I don't see women needing men to dress more modestly.

I'm not suggesting that lust is not an issue for women. I'm simply stating that visual stimulation that leads to lust seems to be more of a problem for men.

I will, however, keep your advice in mind, especially when counseling.

Thanks again.

Tamara Thompson said...

Eric,

I appreciate you sharing truths from your sermons on your blog. I grow in the Word every time I hear you speak God's Word. I look forward to the day that you'll have your sermons available for download....hint..hint.

I know that as I grew in my faith, I dressed more and more modestly. I can see this happening to many woman and young women. I attribute this to the fact that modesty is definitely an outward expression of the condition of our hearts. As we grow in godliness, Christ more often becomes our focus instead of ourselves, and we develop the kind of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ that causes us to care about their walk.

I agree with John that women can lust as well, but I also agree with you that men seem to be more visually stimulated. However, for women, lust often involves much more than a sexual lust. Women struggle with the desire for beauty and attention, and immodestly dressed women that get attention can really cause a stumble.

When we really stop and think about all the sinful thoughts that may be going through the minds of our brothers and sisters (ok..and ours!) in Christ during a sermon when there is even one immodestly dressed woman in the congregation, we really can't take it lightly!

Eric said...

Tamara,

Thanks for the kind words about the blog. As for downloads, I'll have to check into what is available regarding technology at the church facility.

I agree with you that outward modesty is an expression of the condition of the heart. The heart really is the place to begin when teaching on modesty.

We could probably all be more modest in general (clothing, speech, attitudes). God is certainly honored when we display self-control, which is closely related to modesty.

Safe Thus Far said...

I just wanted to mention one of the most helpful things I have ever come across as far as helping women understand the need for modesty--the Family Life Today radio show from May 7, 2008--called "Keeping Up Appearances." While they bill it as being about how a wife should dress attractively, it is really not about that, but about modesty and how women's dress affects men. It's an excellent resource!

http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/FamilyLife_Today/archives.asp?bcd=5/7/2008

Susan

Eric said...

Susan,

Thank you for the information. I appreciate it.

Paul said...

I always tell the kids in the youth group - "modest is the hottest" :)