Jewellery, To Wear or not To Wear?
Jewelry in American English and Jewellery in British English. Jewellery is also known as ornaments. Jewellery are small decorative items used as part of clothing ourselves or over and above our dressing. Jewellery enhances how we look like. People have always been conscious to be perceived in certain ways and as a result they tend to use jewellery to make a statement or enhance their looks.
The Bible makes a lot of reference to jewellery. But not all passages address the question of whether to wear or not to wear jewellery. We will address ourselves to some of the passages that give us an idea on whether to wear or not to wear jewellery.
Exodus 33:4-6 “(4) When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. (5) For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.’” (6) Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.”
Israelites borrowed jewellery from Egyptians as they left Egypt en route to the Promised Land.
It is actually God who gave them the jewellery, (Exodus 12:35-36 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. (36) And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.), because it was to be later on donated for construction of the temple, Exodus 35:4-9. But Israelites one day decided to use some of their jewellery to create an idol for worship – a golden calf, because they thought Moses’ delay from returning from mountain top meant that Moses was dead.
God was very angry with the people. when Moses returned and saw what was happening, he in anger broke the tablets containing the ten commandments that God gave him. God told Moses to tell the Israelites that He would not go with them to the Promised land because of their wickedness.
The first reaction of confession of sin and repentance by Israelites, was to strip themselves off all jewellery. This was because Jewellery was from Egypt and it had connotations of Egyptian false worship. It was that association of jewellery and Egyptian false worship that had endeared them to offend God by worshipping a golden calf. Jewellery comes with design and association and all believers must be careful what statement they are making by wearing certain articles of jewellery. They are not just pieces of dressing articles, they are symbols of gods, beliefs and way of life. Even clothing we wear with words should be carefully considered lest we communicate an anti-God message to the world. Therefore the Israelites had to show repentance and seek God’s forgiveness by stripping these misleading articles from their lives. They had to strip themselves of all ornaments that associated them with Egyptian false worship. They did not rationalise on costs and their looks, this was now a faith matter a surrender to God, they just stripped themselves off.
The striping off of jewellery was not for a season of prayer or for some select time. The passage tells us that it was a permanent way of life from that time to this day ( Exodus 33:6 “Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.”). Meaning wearing jewellery from that point on would be akin to backsliding from their faith in God and back to Egypt. True conversion and repentance was demonstrated by reconstructing how they dressed and looked like, particularly in relation to jewellery. Our conversion to Christ does not just target the heart, it also targets our wardrobe and all other items of dress and whatever else is associated with us. Conversion to Jesus doesnt just call for change of heart, but also change of life style and change of dress, including stripping off of jewellery and what ever else is associated with this world.
1 Timothy 2:9 “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,”
1 Peter 3:3-4 “(3) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— (5) but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
The New Testament (NT) seems clearest in relation to whether to wear or not wear jewellery. The NT talks of two ways of dressing and decorating yourself. First is external beauty that is worked on with jewellery, etc. Secondly it is inner beauty, the character of a person that develops by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. The two passages in NT support the focus on inner beauty as opposed to emphasis on external beauty that depends on jewellery.
The passages in Timothy and Peter addressed different audiences, therefore this implies that the early church had a common stand on jewellery. Timothy was written by Apostle Paul to pastor Timothy on how the church should be led. Peter wrote to the churches too. Apostles Paul and Peter therefore caution the church on different occasions that jewellery does distract believer from focusing on the most important part of their lives – the inner beauty. Apostles Paul and Peter expected the church to address the question on whether to wear or not to wear jewellery. This was not a trivial matter to these two great leaders and it shouldn’t be a trivial matter to us. We need to address the question of jewellery in the present church too!
Apostles Paul and Peter proscribed jewellery because it was extremely valued that it distracted the wearer and the other worshippers. It was treated as significant and it could not escape the attention of the leaders. The distraction by jewellery also meant that focus moved from inner beauty to a valuing of people based on the cost of their dressing and in particular ornaments they wore. Therefore the Apostles did what we must do today, which is to help the church make the right prioritisation.
Jewellery can distract because of its value. Where your treasure is there goes your heart. Expensive jewellery can distract from giving the heart to God and we give our hearts to our looks. Jewellery distracts us from focusing on who we are to focusing on what we have. Our focus should be keenly be on who we are and not what we have. What we have is transient, but who we are comes with eternal consequences.
Who we are is moulded by Christ through the Holy Spirit. What we have is chosen and valued and worn by us. Jewellery and external beauty is about creating yourself into an image you desire for your self. Creating yourself in your own image is diametrically opposed to God creating us in His own image and likeness. God desires to create us in our inner beauty to be like Him. Apostles Paul and Peter are clear that you cant focus on both inner and external beauty, therefore they advise that focus on inner beauty. As much as possible we should avoid the allure and distraction of jewellery is the biblical message.
We have functional and non-functional jewellery. Functional jewellery is that which serves another purpose other than just decorating us. Functional jewellery includes wedding bands or rings that show that we are married, tie clips, hair clips, cuff links, etc. Non-functional jewellery is that which we wear and only serves the purpose of enhancing our looks or decorating us. Christians are advised to avoid non-functional jewellery. The use of functional jewellery should also be modest, lest the function becomes an excuse to move to the extreme that opposes God. Jewellery opposes God in the sense that God works on our inner beauty, but jewellery distracts us from that divine work and instead focuses us on external beauty. Unless compulsory by law and unavoidable, even functional jewellery must be avoided.
A Christian therefore should not wear avoidable functional jewellery and should at all costs keep off and not wear non-functional jewellery and what ever is related to it.
1. No necklaces
2. No rings
3. No tattoos
4. No bangles even those of patriotism or promoting certain products or programmes
5. Promotional jewellery that promotes certain programmes may look functional but in the long run it mars the line between right and wrong. Some functional jewellery include bangles that are actually USB memory sticks, etc.
7. No piercings on lips, nose, navels, ears and anywhere else
The list is just an example to guide us on what to avoid. Otherwise the changing world will bring many more crazy things that will be adopted as fashion and we should avoid them if they like jewellery are opposed to God and godliness in our lives.
You cannot serve God and money. Jewellery comes with money value most times and therefore like all high valued stuff that distract us, we should avoid it. Self-centredness, self love, is a philosophy that opposes God and was the philosophy that led Lucifer to oppose God and become satan. Jewellery distracts us from what God can do and is doing, to what we can do to enhance our external looks. In that sense Jewellery opposes God’s purposes in our lives.
While we have focused on jewellery, it is also true of many other things that need a careful attention lest they distract us from God. Wealth, education, power, position, property, etc. Our prayer is that God saves us from distractions in Jesus name, Amen!(c)firstname.lastname@example.org (do not delete any part of this post, including this. You are free to share these posts but do not edit the authorship or content…thank you and be blessed!)