Malachi 1:6 (NASB Strong's) “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?’ says the Lord of hosts to you,”
I had a conversation with a 29-year-old man who is a strong Christian with a heart to serve God. He recently began attending a large church that hosts thousands every Sunday. I had the opportunity to attend that church recently, and I must say, I was impressed. There was a contemporary atmosphere, great seating, perfect sound, appealing lighting, and a large stage. The Sunday meeting is timed to a comfortable 90 minutes, but it is so well done that you don’t detect that the worship, collecting of oﬀerings, special songs and message are tailored to uplifting the spirit of the congregation without tiring their flesh.
This young man told me that the Senior pastor is the only one who goes to church dressed in a suit, the other younger pastors go in casual clothing. He then said; “I always go in business attire, my best shoes, pants and sports jacket. I feel that I owe God the same respect that my superiors require of me at work, I can’t go there dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. Beyond all of that, I am going to have fellowship with my KING, so I am going before him with the best I have”. Then he said: “Apparently, the way I go to church is having an impact on some of the pastoral staff. The co-pastor came up to me and said, ‘man, you look sharp!’” - and from that day he has come to church every Sunday dressing different than before, now he wears a jacket and dress pants.”
I WAS TOUCHED BY HIS SINCERITY. This young man was not trying to impress anyone nor did he feel that he had to comply with the “dress down” atmosphere at the church, he simply has a personal conviction to give his best to his KING out of a heart of respect for God’s authority over him. Most of all, he is not criticizing others who don’t present themselves as he does, he just wants to stand before God in the most respectful way possible.>
I have been giving serious thought to that conversation for some time now. I felt my heart jump within me as that young man spoke about his love and respect for his KING. Love is an issue of the heart (that also reveals itself in our deeds), and respect for God is something that is demonstrated by our obedience to His Word and how we humble ourselves in His Presence. Another way that we show respect is by appearing before Him with the best presentation of ourselves as possible. I am not saying that you must put on expensive clothes, just the best presentation of yourself as possible.
King David had a heart that was very close to the Lord. God punished his sin of adultery with Bathsheba by causing the son born from that union to become very sick. David fasted and prayed for seven days for his son’s recovery to no avail. When the child died, he arose and went to the house of the LORD to worship in the following manner:
2 Samuel 12:20 (NASB Strong's) So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the Lord and worshiped....
He could have gone wearing the clothes he fasted in, with his hair out of place and unbathed, but David had an acute understanding of God’s presence and his glory. David presented himself as was his custom, he went to the house of his King in a respectful manner.
I wonder, how does God feel about the way we present ourselves to HIM? Does our presentation show honor and respect, or a total lack of understanding about who He is? Does our appearance in His court acknowledge His authority over us or do we show up like we are going to the house of a good friend?
Certain styles of clothing are acceptable in society and considered fashionable yet would not be acceptable attire in a court of law or if we were invited to a presidential breakfast. We wouldn’t go to an important job interview dressed like we were relaxing on a Saturday afternoon, nor would we appear at a formal event in that attire.
As the leader of a multi-cultural organization of churches I understand that we do not all hold the same custom concerning church attire. My point is that we should give God our best in everything, including our appearance.
I believe that a church leader’s first message to their congregation is how he/she presents themselves in the congregation. When I stand in the pulpit to teach the church about the word of God, they see an image before they hear my voice. My mission is not to show everyone how “cool” I am with Jesus, it is to show how to serve him from a heart of love, respect and yes, fear. He is not only my friend, He will one day judge everything I have ever said and done.
When I am called upon by God to correct a person in church whose behavior that is not in line with the faith, I go in the authority of my oﬃce. If the congregation has no respect for my oﬃce then my words will have little eﬀect. Their respect for me starts with a first impression, then I pray that God uses my message in the power of the Holy Spirit. Most ministers prefer to be addressed by their title “pastor, bishop, etc.…, it is a sign of respect for the authority that God has placed on the oﬃce. So, then, should I dress down that oﬃce, then require people to address me as an authority?
I am not trying to set a standard nor am I criticizing the church leaders who may read this. I am simply putting forth an awareness that goes beyond our personal preferences.
NOTE: I am aware of the scriptures concerning grace and that God looks at the heart. Many have distorted those scriptures so that their liberal views will be accepted. When we interpret doctrine to accommodate our desired lifestyle, we fall short of divine purpose.
I once belonged to a very legalistic organization. I know what happens when men dictate dress codes and other standards according to their own minds. Paul warned against them:
Colossians 2:20-23 (NASB Strong's) 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
That does not take away from the fact that God is sovereign over all His creation, He is a great King worthy of all honor and reverence. When our “liberties” take away from, or do not honor His presence, then our light has become darkness.
The Apostle John was given a heavenly vision that he wrote for us as the final chapter in God’s Word entitled “The Revelation”. In chapter four, he relates how he saw the throne of God and explained it in amazing detail. He also saw beings who stood before the throne whose sole purpose is to give honor and glory to the ONE who sits there:
Revelation 4:9-11 (NASB Strong's) 9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."
This scene is eternal. It didn’t happen 2,000 years ago. It has always been happening, it is happening now and will happen in eternity!
We are but dust, but God is the eternal creator. He is over all and determines the existence and termination of every living thing. We would do well to fear Him, honor Him and humble ourselves before Him…
1 Timothy 1:17 (NASB Strong's) Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The purpose of the church is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and to teach believers how to be pleasing to God as we prepare for eternity. The church belongs to God and it is for His glory. When we come together as His body, the Bible teaches that GOD is in our midst! The meeting is all about honoring Him.
If you are a pastor, realize that you have a high calling from God. He has selected you to be a spokesperson to His church. Your ministry is a service to Him and His people, not to your image, likes, plans, prosperity and fame. As God has chosen to give you honor and respect amongst His people, give back the same and in greater measure to Him.
If you are a member of God’s church, you also have a high calling in the world. Your mission is to show what God has done through His power in your life. You are also a minister of the gospel, through your life and words. Be the best presentation of God as possible. Give Him glory in all that you do!
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB Strong's) .... whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.