"I Made a Covenant With My Eyes" - When modesty just isn't enough

Joey Ferrell - The Preacher in Steel-Toed Boots

   “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?” (Job 31:1–4, ESV)  


Last week, I spent 5 days with over 4,000 brothers and sisters in Christ at Polishing the Pulpit.  Some of them were older men, some older women, some were young school aged children, some were young men and women.  They were of all ages.

One thing that was not an inherit problem at this gathering...I thought...was modesty.  Sure, there were some situations that might have been just a little better with a different outfits, or different posture even, from both female...and males.

But, what about in the world?  Or more interestingly...in the church?

Can we do a better job of not enticing lustful thoughts, or even just innocent curiosity by making sure that we are all modestly clothed?  Of course, the answer is yes, we can.  Does it stop there though?

While we were between classes, I was in an area talking to a friend from nearby our area and a very dear brother that is a well-known preacher walked up near us as we were actually mentioning his name.  Naturally, he stopped to speak to us.

My friend made a statement that sort of stopped me in my thought.  This is what she said:

"We have been visiting some different congregations at home.  There have been a few that we have really liked; however, we have a teenage son."  I kept listening to see where this conversation was heading.  "The congregation that we visited a few weeks ago was really nice, and we felt that it might be one we could call home..." There was a pause before she continued. "Well, there were just some young ladies that weren't dressed very modestly and that concerns me."

As a father of two daughters, a grandfather to a step-granddaughter, and this year a hosting parent to an exchange student, also a young lady, this comment hit home really hard.  It wasn't that my daughters were there and dressed inappropriately, but more so that sometimes any of us can be a stumbling block to others, and also that maybe there is more that we need to do.

This made me think about even as a grown adult man that yes, there are times in which waiting on the Lord's table, or standing in the pulpit to teach or preach that sometimes, what may appear as modest apparel to some...may be very immodest and become a temptation to others.

Can we do better?  As parents, yes, we can do better.  As Christians, we can do better.  As a preacher, I can do better by teaching more on the subject - not the "cover up your nakedness" subject, but more so of the "think about how your appearance can affect others" in the way we dress, act, sit, stand, etc.  As elders in the church, I think men can find ways to teach members better.  So yes, I think each and everyone of us can do better....even the one on the other side of the equation.

What do I mean by this?  Go back and look at the text of Job 31 above.  Job made a covenant with God and himself to not allow himself to be tempted in situations in which he had little control.  Yes, it is true that we each one have a responsibility to do our part in modestly dressing and keeping ourselves in a manner that would not cause such desires; however, sometimes a young lady in a nice dress may trigger something in a young man's eyes that even immodest attire would not...and the same goes for young men in young ladies eyes as well as the older ones of us as well.

Job makes this commitment to not allow sin in his life.  He even goes on through the next few verses 9-12 to expand on the thought of adultery in lustful situations.

My thoughts and advice as a Christian man trying to live as pure a life as I can:

  • Dress appropriately/act appropriately to not be guilty of tempting another
  • Make a covenant with your eyes...and your heart
  • Guard your heart by staying away from things that may hinder you in such temptations (i.e., swimming pools with mixed company, unfiltered websites, television shows, movies, even books that may lean toward innuendo and pictures that are not appropriate)
  • Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 at all times.  God will never allow you to be tempted beyond escape.

We can't always control the environment that we find ourselves in.  But, we can control how we respond, think, and behave in our actions, and in our hearts.

God bless!

Joey Ferrell

Minister, Rock Hill church of Christ