Do Clothes Make the Person?

By William Imrisek

It is not at all uncommon for us to make judgments about a person we are meeting for the first time simply on the basis of his appearance, how he grooms himself and how he dresses himself. And such judgments can often’ be quite near the truth. Our appearance tells a lot about ourself to others. We should be careful that our appearance is casting a true image of the inward man.

Some belittle the importance of how they adorn themselves in public, or even in the assembly of the saints when they gather together to worship God. They express the sentiment that “it’s what’s inside that count’s.” True, but they fail to realize that what is manifested outwardly reveals what is inside (Matt. 12:34-35). Just as our speech reveals what we have treasured up in our hearts, so also the way that we adorn ourselves reveals such things as our emotions, our attitude toward life and toward those that we are associating with, and yes, it may even reveal a lack of godliness.

Note some of the things the Bible tells us that clothing has revealed about a person in times past and may even suggest today.

(1) It may suggest whether one is rich or poor (James 2:2).

(2) It may reveal whether one lives in a king’s palace or a pauper’s shanty (Matt. 11:8).

(3) It may signify that one is filled with sorrow (2 Sam. 3:31; Jonah 3:5ff).

(4) By the modesty and discreetness of the clothing it may tell if one is godly or ungodly (1 Tim. 2:9-10).

(5) It may suggest that one is displaying a false piety (Matt. 23:5; Mark 11:38-40).

(6) It may identify the type of people that one associates with (Zeph. 1:8).

(7) It will suggest whether one is male or female (Deut. 22:5).

(8) At times and in various cultures, it has signified if one is a virgin (2 Sam. 13:18).

(9) Likewise, in some cultures it may identify one as a widow (Gen. 38:14,19).

(10) It may suggest that one is a harlot (Prow. 7:10).

(11) It may identify one as a prisoner (Jer. 52:33).

(12) It may reveal that one has a very special love for another (Gen. 37:3).

(13) It may identify one’s wife or mother as one who provides good care and protection for her family (Prow. 31:21ff).

(14) It may suggest the type of activity that one is engaged in, or the type of function that one is attending (Matt. 22:11-13).

(15) It can reveal the respect (or lack of it) that one has for God when approaching His presence (Ex. 3:5; Matt. 18:20).

What are we telling others about ourselves by our appearance? Are we casting a true image of ourselves? Maybe it is truer than we think.

Truth Magazine XXII: 34, p. 557
August 31, 1978