“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8. If I had gotten my way, I would have gone a different direction in life. I’m so glad God is in charge.
Ladies, I’m going to be vulnerable today and completely honest with you: I’ve never really liked women. They’ve always annoyed me like no other creature on this planet. Since the days of middle school pettiness to high school flakes to adult gossips and superficiality, women bother me. So when God began pushing me to minister to and teach other women, I pushed back. They were not the group I wanted to hang with.
Many of the women’s ministries I had been involved with in the past were mostly what I would call “huff and fluff”. They huffed a little about God’s Word and then added in the fluff to appeal to their flesh. They would look at a few verses and then hastily apply it to their lives. Always trying to reassure the fragile female ego that they are beautiful, loved and “okay”. This did nothing for me. I knew the sin in my life was not beautiful, I didn’t understand what love was and I certainly did not feel “okay”. I longed for something more.
I tried to avoid women’s groups most of my life. Then God began to push. He pushed me with his Word and by using persistent believers he placed in my life (if you don’t have pushy godly friends in your life, you need some). The suggestions of others surprised me and I heard myself say more than once, loud and clear, “But, I don’t like women!” I said it to others and I said it to God. However, God always gets his way…this woman who did not like women’s groups found herself at the front of one.
I have been ministering to women in one form or another for several years now. The heart-journey God has taken me on in this area has been amazing, but one of the most important things he has shown me is this: I do not really dislike women. What!?! You may think this is silly, but this came as a great shock to me and I’ve only realized it in the last few years. Here is the truth of the matter: it is easy to dislike someone until God calls you to love them.
What I do dislike in women is the sin they display. The attributes of pettiness, superficiality, gossiping, interest in material possessions and self-indulgence are all sins women fall prey to easily (myself included!). These are what were turning me off of my own gender and what I was allowing to cloud my view of them. I was not seeing them for what they were - women in desperate need of the qualities of Jesus Christ. If they were saved, they didn’t know how to act like it. If they were not saved, Jesus was their only hope. How could I let my distaste for sins (that I often displayed myself) get in my way of showing them the truth found in God’s Word? I repent of this attitude I held for so long.
Now the other side of this is vital! It doesn’t end with simply not disliking women. It goes further because it has to. I can now honestly say that I love women and I love ministering to women. Why? For the treasure involved. Little else in all of creation is more beautiful than a godly woman. If you want to see something rare and spectacular, find a woman who fears the Lord above all else in her life. Find a woman who is humble and eager to serve. Who fills her marriage with grace, trains up her children in scripture and is an encourager to those around her. Find a woman who is diligent in her work and whose mouth is full of wisdom and solid counsel. A woman whose strength is found in her gentle nature and quiet spirit. Find a woman called by God and devoted to following after her Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is the woman God declares praise-worthy (wow!) in Proverbs 31: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” A woman like this is said to be “far more precious than jewels” (Proverbs 31:10), “the crown of her husband” (Proverbs 14:4) and possessing a beauty that is “precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4). I agree, a godly woman is a treasure beyond measure and brings great glory to her God. This is what I want to help women display more of in their lives.
The women in the fluffy studies from years ago were in desperate need of understanding more about Jesus. They needed deep biblical guidance, not craft time and pretty centerpieces. Women of today are no different. They need to be shown the riches that are found in Jesus alone. It is in him we find our value…in ourselves…and in each other. I will minister to women for the rest of my life, whether formally or informally. God has taught me to love them and now I can do nothing else.
Ladies, the world we live in has sold us a bundle of lies about our gender and what constitutes strength. I for one am sick of it.
In my younger years I bought into all of it so quickly I am embarrassed. Not even thinking to check it against what God has to say. I was a smart woman; I thought I knew what it meant to be strong.
I really had no clue.
When a woman was cheated on by her husband I would side with the throng shouting, “Leave that unfaithful jerk! You don’t deserve that. Move on and make him sorry. The children will get over it, they are better off without him.”
That is how I felt until meeting a woman who became like a mentor to me about 12 years ago. I admired her so much; she sang the praises of Jesus Christ and of her husband too. I longed to be that in love with my husband. After knowing her for about a year, she told me their story. A story of shocking infidelity and even more shocking reconciliation. A story of staying and not leaving, a story of a couple renewed and redeemed by the power of Christ alone. A victory story ordained by God.
Since that time I have walked with others who have gone through that same type of pain and have chosen to stay. I watched as God turned their anger into a passion to not allow Satan the win; watched their drive to serve God over serving their flesh and their desire to just run. I saw peace restored, husbands repenting, marriages now not just restored but soaring all for the glory of God.
Now I know I have witnessed the true strength of a woman.
Not so many years ago, my mental picture of a strong woman was one with ambition, who had a successful career and took care of her family. Someone who had it all together and worked hard to accomplish her dreams.
Now having walked with women who struggle with anxiety, wrestle with depression, and deal with chronic pain, I see real strength. These same women call on God for help, trusting in him to carry them on. They pick themselves up and walk out their doors to face a harsh world that they don’t seem to fit into. Despite the Enemy’s attacks, they keep getting back up and loving on others. They worship with passion and praise with joy. Doing battle bravely with the sword of God’s Word.
I used to think being a submissive wife was a joke. Offensive oppression and disturbing old church ways. Until I read how the Savior was crushed and hung on wood because he was submitting to his Father’s will…in order to save me…un-submissive and selfish me. Until I saw submission modeled out for me in relationships with such beauty that I can no longer argue against its purpose, command or its effectiveness. I now see how brilliantly marriages dance and thrive when strong women allow their partner to lead. She is his equal yet has different steps to tread with a beauty all her own. A beauty modeled after Christ and the Holy Spirit. Glorious and strong submission.
The career woman can be a strong woman in Christ, but she is also the woman who gives up her worldly status to stay home and raise her children. She is the one who stands up and says “No!” to the teaching of the world when everyone else is saying, “Okay, I guess, whatever.” She is the one who picks up her Bible to read instead of the latest trend novel. She is the one loving the unlovable and forgiving the unforgivable. She cherishes her God-given gender and the beauty of its purpose. She is the one who chooses life instead of convenient murder. She is the one who works hard at pleasing her Lord even if that displeases the world around her.
The strong woman trusts in her God who tells her, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
Ladies, don’t eat up the lies the world is trying to push down your throat. You know deep in your heart that God’s way always has been and always will be the best way. His opinion is the only one that matters. Show true strength in this world; admire true strength in this world.
Be determined to walk that narrow path of truth while others carouse down easy street. If you have been living with a misunderstanding of strength, time to take a stand and get it right. Hear God’s word today and let this be your prayer right now:
“For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:10-12.
Ladies, when was the last time you felt radiant? Been awhile? Yeah, me too. I was recently staring into my closet wondering if it’s a bad sign that many of my clothing purchases in the last year have come from Sam’s Club… wait, don’t answer that, I know the answer. As women our lives are so full of demands, chores, and people to take care of that we rarely spend time thinking about being radiant. Usually “good enough” or “not too bad” will do.
Today, I want to change your attitude in that area and mine too. First, what does it mean to be radiant? Radiant means to send out light, to glow or shine. In regards to a person it is as if that person is emanating light, joy or gladness. These are just my simplified definitions. If you are radiant, you are certainly having an effect on those around you and it is obvious something awesome is going on inside of you.
The verse that got me thinking on this idea of radiance is found in Jeremiah 31:12, “and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord”. Why will they be radiant? Because of the “goodness of the Lord”! No mention of stylish clothes, make-up or a good tan. Duh, radiance couldn’t be caused by any of those things, they are outside of you. Radiance is something that emanates from the inside out.
That verse is part of a chapter in which God is speaking through his prophet Jeremiah telling of the restoration of the Israelites to their land and to himself. Here are a few more awesome snippets from chapter 31: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (v. 3), he will gather them and keep them “as a shepherd keeps his flock.” (v. 10), “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (v. 13), “my heart yearns for him, I will certainly have mercy on him” (v. 20), and “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (v. 33).
With a God loving you like that, how could you keep from being radiant with joy? This God is certainly overflowing with goodness. In fact, he is goodness.
Do you belong to and serve the God that wrote the Bible? How about the book of Jeremiah? Chapter 31? Yes, yes and yes for me. I pray it is true for you too. Then what are we waiting for?? Our radiance does not come from anything we can put on these bodies (whether from Sam’s or Saks) but what resides within us – which is the goodness of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
If my radiance is dependent on the goodness of God, I should blind people when I walk by. So how does this happen? The answer is also so perfectly in Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 14, “my people will be satisfied with my goodness”. God’s people find their full and perfect satisfaction in God alone. If you are one of God’s people, find your full satisfaction in his goodness. Soak yourself in God’s Word, be with him in prayer. We should be so filled with the abundance of God’s love, grace and mercy that it consumes our being from the inside out and overflows onto a needy and dark world. What a glorious picture. It is a gospel picture.
Jesus radiated love for me when he poured out his blood on the cross. In this act he paid my ransom price and now I am eternally secure and all the words spoken in Jeremiah chapter 31 are meant for me. How could I be dissatisfied??
In a world filled with women trying so hard to accessorize themselves into beauty or to live a “good life” hoping that will translate into being a “good person”, we should shine like the sun. While they are hoping all their work on the outside will seep into their soul, we stand confident that Jesus has done the work already and our soul is beautiful. Therefore we do not fear, we are satisfied.
If the Holy Spirit lives inside you, he should be shining through you. Ladies, find your full satisfaction in the goodness of God and be radiant.
I believe every woman has a natural desire to be beautiful; a desire to be found attractive and pleasing to others. But what is beautiful? What makes someone truly beautiful? In order to know this we must turn to the book of ultimate standards, God’s word. We, as Christian women, can use no other source as our guide and measuring stick in this or any other area of our lives.
The Bible is full of wisdom, but does it really speak specifically to the physical beauty of women? Our loving God knows what concerns us and does not leave us to wonder how to live. I have not found a topic yet that is not covered in God’s word. So, yes there are scriptures that speak to this topic and quite directly.
Last week I discussed modesty and how we need to be aware of how we dress so that we are not selfishly trying to steal attention and glory away from God. Knowing that we need to be modest in our dress leads to questions of whether it is okay to beautify ourselves and should we work at being beautiful? Let’s revisit our scripture:
“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, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” - Timothy 2:9-10
Notice the words “women should adorn themselves”. It is certainly okay for women to adorn (to add to or enhance) themselves, but what they adorn themselves with is of utmost importance. This should not be with excessive hairstyling, jewelry or pricy clothing, but with good works. How do you put on good works?
Adornment is a verb, a word of action. Our faith is made known by what we do and how we live (see James 2:18, Matt. 7:20). You put on good works by doing good works; by spending yourself on what pleases God and blesses others in his name. When our lives produce fruit in keeping with the Spirit within us, those around us are able to witness an outward demonstration of internal beauty.
Adorning yourself with good works makes perfect sense. What is absolute, perfect beauty? God. God in perfect bodily form is Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19). Only when we have Jesus within us can we be beautiful; only when others see Christ evident and manifested in our lives can we be seen as beautiful. This needs to become your new definition of what human beauty is. Christ living within you and shining through you.
Peter apparently agreed with Paul. When speaking to women in 1 Peter 3:4 he says, “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.”
Who is this “hidden person of the heart”? This is your true self; the heart of who you are that has been redeemed and washed clean by the Savior. We are made into something new and beautiful when Christ chooses us to be his (Col. 3:12).
A “gentle and quiet spirit” comes from fully trusting in a God that is unmovable and unchanging, forever perfect and loving. A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit does not get ruffled or anxious because there is no fear of what is to come or what has been. This is a woman who has given herself completely over to the will of God and walks confidently in his grasp. She is kind, peaceful and even tempered. This is a beautiful woman and she is precious in the sight of God. There is no better prize than to be precious to God.
A beautiful woman entrusts herself to the Lord and not the world, God alone provides her unwavering standards. Worldly beauty will never satisfy; it is too temporary and fleeting. Godly beauty gets more profound, improves with time and it is promised to be “imperishable”!
So yes, Ladies, I enCOURAGE you to work at being beautiful to the best of your abilities. Understand God’s perfect plan to conform you to the likeness of his son. Only then can we experience true beauty as we reflect his.
We are to keep our eyes trained on the pure beauty of Jesus Christ and not on our own physical vanity. We need to delight and be fully satisfied “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord,” - Psalms 27:4.
I was recently talking with the group from our church that will soon be in Guatemala for a mission trip. I was discussing proper dress code while there. I informed them that we could not wear any inappropriate clothing: nothing too short, too low, too thin or too tight. I also asked them not to wear excessive jewelry or make-up.
After this meeting, I started thinking how strange it was that this issue of modesty needed to be addressed at all. As committed Christians, shouldn’t this be the norm for us every day? We will be representing Christ to others in Guatemala, yet aren’t we always representing Christ? What an eye opener for me in how I dress for Christ in my day to day life.
As Christian women do we need to be so concerned about how we dress? Is it really that important? Let’s check the Word:
“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, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” – 1 Timothy 2:9-10
The answer is yes, we need to dress ourselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control. Why? We need to remember our purpose here on Earth, why God continues to allow us to breathe. We were created by him and for him (Colossians 1:16) and all we do needs to be done for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This includes how we dress. We should dress in a way that pleases God and reflects his goodness.
Here are the hard questions to ask yourself: Do you dress for your own glory or for the glory of God? Does what you wear distract from the gospel purposes in your life? Does it distract others from the gospel purposes in their life (causing lust, envy, confusion, etc.)? If you dress to illicit attention or approval from others, you are what Carolyn Mahaney calls a “glory thief” in her book, True Beauty. We are stealing glory from God; we are desiring it more for ourselves than for him. These are strong words, but they hit the mark - I certainly do not want to be a glory thief!
So, what are the limits, just where is that line that we should not cross in how we dress? Ladies, don’t give me this. The rule is not to play with the line, but to stay away from it. I believe we women are very aware of what is acceptable and what is not. We know when we are wearing something that accentuates and draws attention to certain areas. I’m telling you (and me) to knock it off. If you stand in a mirror before leaving the house and feel sexy, time to change. Sexy stays home with your husband.
Listen carefully, the opposite of “modesty” is not “beautiful” or even “stylish”. The opposite of modesty is immodesty which is direct sin. If you don’t like modesty it means you prefer sin and that is living in opposition to God. Whoa, more tough stuff! Yep, sure is. God takes what we do with our bodies very seriously:
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Our bodies are not our own, they were bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. Our bodies are to be used to glorify God and not ourselves.
Beautiful modesty is in no way an oxymoron. You cannot be beautiful unless you are modest. You must possess a godly modesty that flows from your love of pleasing God through obedience to him in your outward appearance. Beauty is a radiance from the inside to the outside.
This begs the questions: how then should we adorn ourselves? How are we to be beautiful? Is it even okay to be beautiful? So glad you asked! Our gracious God does not leave us without help in this important area. One week from today, I will answer these very questions.
I enCOURAGE you to take this seriously. Train yourself and teach your daughters to be beautifully modest for the glory of God.