Thanks for the comments and emails on the “Dressing for Worship” post. You’ve asked some good questions that are helpful in rounding out this topic. First, allow me to point out that my brief post was a “cut-and-paste” from the “Guide to Our Worship” book that is available as a PDF download HERE. I wrote this in 2009 and published it in the spring of 2010.
The essence of several questions that came my way had to do with the need to guard against the deceitfulness of our hearts and the temptation for some to dress up in order to show off their fashion sense or their wealth. In other words, how do we offer our best without violating the admonitions in the book of James?
As we guard against falling in the ditch on one side of the road, we must not fall into the ditch on the other side. Wisdom requires that we stay on the road. My point was simply that we should present our best regardless of what our best is. However, presenting our best doesn’t mean being a showoff. There’s a time and place for some things that are inappropriate in others. While God looks first at the heart, nevertheless, what's in the heart will usually be reflected in what we say and do. Grace must be extended, but that must not become an excuse for "anything goes.”
Another question observed that: “There are times in the Bible when God's people have come before Him in ‘sackcloth and ashes.’ They have come humbled, depressed, or moved in some way by his working in their life. I am assuming that today also there may be a season in our lives where we may come to church in something close to that according to his leading. A thought or comment on that?”
Wisdom recognizes that special occasions require special attire. Weddings, picnics, funerals, worship, etc. call for different outward expressions of the heart. Sackcloth and ashes are not simply casual attire but rather formal expressions of lament; they would usually be out of place at a wedding or in corporate worship. One other point is that when we’re dressing for worship, we’re not dressing simply for ourselves or our private mood. We’re part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and thus we should seek to dress in a manner that is appropriate to that particular gathering.