For pretty much my whole life, I have heard people fuss about what to wear to Sunday worship. I trust that this one blog article will not settle things, but I do want us all to think through some of the more common “arguments,” and see if they are really helpful.

The “Wear Your Best” Argument

Regularly, I hear people say that we should wear our best to worship. Often, this is followed by some story of a grandparent or uncle who “only had one pair of overalls, but he would wash those things and wear them every Sunday, because they were the best he had.”

I think there is some validity to wearing our best, but may I throw a monkey wrench in the argument? How many people who hold to this idea do not really follow their own rule?

For example, I know a lot of ladies who say that we should wear our ” very best” every Sunday, but their wedding dress is in a closet or an attic. Isn’t that gorgeous gown their “best”? Isn’t it “better” than the dresses they choose each Sunday?

Further, if we are to wear our “very best,” wouldn’t that imply that we wear the same outfit each week, since it is impossible to have two or three or four “very best” outfits?

I know that’s not the heart behind this side of the argument, but if we are going to argue that we need to wear our “best,” that is what we are actually saying.

The “God Doesn’t Care about the Outside” Argument

On the other hand, there are people who dress very casually for worship, though they have nicer clothing, and then justify it by saying, “God sees my heart. He doesn’t care about the outside.”

Now, it is certainly true that God sees our heart. He knows it perfectly; in reality, He knows our heart better than we ourselves do. Scripture regularly teaches us to guard our heart and to make certain that what is on our “inside” is pure.

But does that mean that God has no concern whatsoever for what is on the outside? Of course not! What we do on the outside is a reflection of what is in our heart. (If it isn’t, we are being hypocritical.)

To intentionally dress casually for worship says something. It does speak, whether we want it to or not, about how we feel about worship. But is worship casual? Is it something that is just routine? Is coming before the Almighty Creator just another activity to be checked off our casual to-do list each week?

How About This Compromise?

So, if it isn’t wearing your best and if it isn’t casual, what is it?

First, let me say that there is no verse of Scripture that mandates what we are to wear each Lord’s Day. It may be appropriate to wear a coat and tie in America and it may be completely inappropriate in some other culture in the world where coats and ties are virtually unknown.

However, should we not seek to show respect when we come to worship? That one concept may solve the issue.

If I dress “to the nines,” is it because I am wanting to honor God, or because I want people to compliment me on my new outfit or jewelry? Remember, it was being overdressed and ostentatious that was condemned as immodest in 1 Timothy 2:8–10. Showing off our wealth or status is not respectful in a setting where the glory is to go only to God.

However, if I “dress down” for worship, is that respectful of my Creator? Is that not saying that I treat this all-important time of the week as just another routine or as not worthy of any sort of preparation?

Personally, I do believe we should dress well for worship, but we may not be able to wear our absolute best outfit week after week. Instead, we need to realize that we are coming into the presence of a holy God at His invitation. That deserves respect.

To some, that may mean wearing the only pair of jeans in your closet that are not stained from the waist to the cuffs. For others, it may mean a dress that’s a little out of fashion, but still is modest and clean. To others, it might mean a bowtie and suitcoat.

The point is: it comes down to an attitude of respect for the Lord. I want to dress in a way that shows that I am taking worship as a respectful time; not as a time to show off, and not as a time that is just mundane and ordinary. God is worthy of my respect, and that does display itself in how I choose to dress.

As I said, I’m certain this article won’t change everyone’s mind. You may totally disagree. In fact, you may think this was a waste of almost 900 words. But worship is the most important thing we do each week, and is always worth our time, to make sure we are treating that time in the same way our Lord does. To that end, I pray this post has been helpful.