“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” Philippians 1:27
This is a tough one. The godly disciplines we have covered thus far for women have been mostly spiritual in nature - elements of our walk with the Lord where the work occurs mostly (though not exclusively) on the inside. Including the disciplines of the mind, contentment, prayer, worship, and knowing the gospel. Today we deal with the outside. That is, what we display broadly to the world and narrowly to the person right next to us.
Today we cover propriety. This corresponds to chapter 8 in Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes. Our propriety means our “appropriateness to the purpose or circumstances” (dictionary.com). What is our “purpose or circumstances” as Christian women? Paul nails it in the verse above. We are to act in a way that is “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Our circumstance: we are redeemed and purchased by the blood of Jesus. Our purpose: to glorify him by sharing his gospel.
Therefore, our behavior as Christian women should always center on the gospel. How we dress, talk, and carry ourselves should all reflect one singular message. That message is the good news that Jesus saves us from damnation when we turn from sin and believe in him.
I told you that this is an external aspect of our walk with the Lord. And it very much is - it is our presentation of Christ to the watching world. However, it always begins from within. Propriety is a matter of the heart. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil,” Luke 6:25.
Let’s look at three areas briefly:
Appearance and dress: It may seem difficult to dress for the gospel, but it isn’t. The simple question to ask yourself is this: “Will what I am wearing distract from the message of the gospel?” If so, don’t wear it. You dress to please your Savior, not other women or men. If married, your husband will be pleased with what pleases God. A Christian woman does not dress to seduce, for power, to make herself feel good, or to impress others. Our beauty and worth comes from who we are in Christ, not our wardrobe. Should we care about out appearance? Yes, indeed. As it states in Proverbs 31:25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing.” We Christian women are to cloth ourselves in what reflects our position as daughters of the King. We are his image bearers and “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Therefore we adorn ourselves with what honors our God. This will include proper clothing, but also a humble spirit (1 Peter 5:5), good works (1 Tim. 2:9) and a gentle, quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Godly beauty is life changing because it comes from a changed life in Christ.
Words: God has made the tongue POWERFUL. Words can hurt and words can heal. How we speak to others has great bearing on the proclamation of the gospel. If we allow gossip, flattery, complaints and criticism to flow unchecked from our mouths, do you think many will listen to the message of hope we bring in the name of Jesus? We all need to work on taming our tongue to obey God. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph. 4:29. Use your words to direct others to Jesus and not away. Fill yourself with the Word of God so that you can share it with others. His words alone save and give hope.
Attitude: How often do you have to give yourself an attitude check? For me, it’s daily hourly. I struggle with a desire for control, a critical spirit, wanting approval, harboring bitterness, a haughty spirit and even pity parties. All of it boils down to one major sin category: PRIDE. You have it too. And though we try to hide it, pride will always rear its ugly head eventually. We are told in James 4:6-7, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God.” Humility is the antidote to pride. Galatians 6:3, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” We must humbly admit we can do nothing without God. We must submit to God and his Word. We deal with pride by treasuring up God’s words in our hearts that we might not sin against him (Ps. 119:11).
The condition of the heart will always be on display in our behavior and attitudes. Ladies, remember to check your hearts often. Does your propriety line up with your claim to be a devoted follow of Jesus? We are to live in a manner “worthy of the gospel.” We can only do this when we have a heart that has been transformed by the gospel. This transformation should be seen by others when they look at you, listen to you and get to know you. Show them Christ!
The sin of discontent runs rampant in the lives of women today. The world is constantly telling us that we need to be improved. We need to be more, do more, and have more. We should not be satisfied with our current status. Discontent is a gangrene that can infect and grow; turning what should be beautiful into something repulsive and rank… if we let it.
We resume our journey through the book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, by Barbara Hughes. Today we are examining the discipline of contentment (chapter 7).
To find evidence of discontent in the history of the world, we have only to look at the very first woman. Eve in the Garden of Eden had everything that was wonderful, good and easy. Her surroundings were literally heaven-like. The earth produced her food, she dwelled with the animals in peace, she was naked and not ashamed, and she even had the perfect husband. Above all of this she communed with God himself! The perfect life…
…until Eve heeded a contrary voice that questioned God’s words to her.
Satan dangled before her the idea that maybe God was depriving her of something good. The infestation took root and the gangrene of discontent was planted. We women have all inherited Eve’s sin of discontentedness. We are unhappy with what God has sovereignly and graciously given to us for our good.
Is God depriving us of something good? Is there more out there for us? A better house, husband, or children, more money, a better job, or to be beautiful, healthy, smarter, athletic, or musical. Are we being slighted?
When we think this way, we are saying that God’s providence is not enough for us. We know what we really need. God’s way is lacking. Are you seeing how this is a dangerous sin? God warns us against this “lifestyle of craving” in 1Timothy 6:6-19. In v. 10 Paul tells us that some who give in to these worldly desires “have wandered away from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pangs.” What we think we “need” actually will hurt us when outside of God’s will.
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
This verse shows that contentedness is a command. And why are we to be content? Because God will never leave us nor forsake us! We have God, therefore we have everything. Not a penny more is needed. Ever. More good news is found in Philippians 4:11-13:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Paul tells us that contentedness is learned. We can acquire the invaluable, godly skill of contentedness. Paul also shares the secret to being content: being satisfied with your situation does not depend on the situation. It depends on the “him” in verse 13.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” does not mean that we can run a marathon, survive cancer, or divorce our husbands and be okay. It means we honor God by using the skills he gives us whether in running or sewing. It means we use our cancer diagnosis to glorify his name whether we are healed or die a slow and painful death. It means we will be thankful for the mate he has provided for us and will use our union to display his grace. The “him” in Philippians 4:13 is Jesus Christ. We can be content in anything when we have Jesus as our Savior and strength.
Ladies, do not measure your life by your circumstances. Learn to be content in Christ. Turn your desires upon him and away from the world, longing not for more of the temporal but for his everlasting righteousness and presence. Submit to God’s plan for your life and be satisfied in him.