How hard do you work at being Christ-like? Do you take it as seriously as say staying healthy, earning money, working out, managing a home, or pursuing hobbies? I struggle in this area and I think many other women do too. We often take this Christian life lackadaisically. We’re all too willing to play a passive role as we attend church and just hope God will gently change our ways eventually. Slowly…….becoming….…more….…like…….Jesus.
Was this the lifestyle God had in mind for Christians when he had Paul write in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers… one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Yeah, I don’t think so. Nothing about this passage sounds passive to me. Neither did Paul display passivity in his life in working toward obedience to Christ.
My oldest son gave me a Fitbit for Mother’s Day last weekend. I didn’t even know I wanted one until he gave me one. I also don’t remember ever caring how many steps I took in 24 hours…until now. I set a goal of getting 10,000 steps per day and I’m really working at it. I find myself looking down at my wrist constantly to see how many steps I have taken and how many I have yet to go (usually lots). I’m taking walks and hopping on the treadmill. Why? What has changed? A goal has been set.
Let me ask you something today. If you knew that 10,000 steps would get you to Jesus, how hard would you work to take those steps? How much of your time would be devoted to that one goal of being close to him? For those of us who are his, there is no greater prize than to be with Jesus. My hope is that we would run hard and “strain forward to what lies ahead” like Paul.
We need to work hard at being more like Christ because Christ has made us his own. We have an upward call upon our lives - a directive to move toward God in Christ. We should break a sweat as we slay sin in our lives and move forward in holiness. Expend the energy necessary because every step counts and every step is worth it.
Ladies, hear this upward call that that comes to you from God’s Word. Read his voice every day and strive to live it out. It alone enables you to progress in sanctification. Learn to set goals for yourself. What sins do you want to tackle? Knock them out of your life one by one. What Christ-like trait do you need to display more of? Pursue it and practice it. All goals should lead to the ultimate goal of obtaining the prize of being with Christ face to face.
Have no doubts, Christ is worth the pursuit. So, arm yourself with his Word and take the next step.
“You shall be holy as I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:16
Does serving an infinitely holy God intimidate you? If not, it should. This quote of God by Peter should cause a great pause, it should initiate an examination of your heart. Don’t skip over it. This is not an isolated verse, it is also found in Leviticus 11:44 and 45, 19:2, 20:7 and there are other verses very similar such as Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
As Christians we cherish the “shall” in the verse from 1 Peter 1:16 above (praise God for helping verbs). There is coming a day when we will be fully holy. That will be the day we get to be with our Savior and before our God, complete (wow, do we look forward to that day!). But, while we are here on earth and in the process of holification (yep, made that up) what are we to do? We read in the Bible that we (true Christians) are progressively being conformed to the image of Jesus “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18), but, what does that look like today, this very day that you are reading these words? Good question! Here is the answer: it is displayed in the very next thing you do.
We often like to step way back and take a broad panoramic view of our lives and hope it displays progressive holiness. This is a very good thing to do and your life will image that promise from God if you are truly his. But, what about the close-up view of today, even this hour, or the next minute? How do you take the enormous task of becoming more like Jesus and display that in your mundane, ordinary life right now? It starts with the very next thing you do.
Are you about to speak to your husband? Speak words of respect and love. Are you talking with co-workers? Refuse to gossip and find opportunities to turn the conversation toward the gospel. Are you wiping snotty noses? Do so in love and because Jesus also humbled himself and served others. Are you deciding what to do for the evening? Make a choice that accords with Scripture and pleases God. Do holiness now.
We can easily get caught up in “putting off” holiness for another day and just trust that God will get us there eventually. We like to think of ourselves as “long-term projects”, maybe saving holiness for our golden years. This is a rotten way to think and says very little for our zeal for the Lord and his desire for us to “grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Instead we need to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). We need to work at our holiness with discipline and be, “bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1). Fear God and shape up. We are his kids and we need to act like it.
Understand, it is okay to feel overwhelmed when you read verses calling for your holiness. Imitating our perfect Savior is a huge task! Actually a God-sized task, only accomplished by God himself. That is exactly why Jesus sent his Spirit, the Helper, to reside in you. It is the Spirit that produces the fruit of holiness that honors God. We really can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). The Holy Spirit will help you be more like Jesus, from the next thing to the golden years.
Take comfort in knowing that when God says, “You shall be holy as I am holy, “it is not just a command but also a promise. You will someday experience the fullness of the rewards of being washed clean with the blood of Jesus. Our holification will be completed (it’s a good word). We will truly be holy like our Father is. It will be a great day!
Until that time, Ladies, intentionally work on your holiness. Continually do the next thing like Jesus would.
I have recently made the discovery that I am not a very nice person. I’m not trying to be self-depreciating, I really am not as nice as I had hoped I was. Just ask my husband.
This past weekend Phil and I were teasing each other (as we often do) and he said, “You are so mean to me!” He was joking at the time, but I took the liberty of telling him how fortunate he was to have me and that I knew for a fact that I was VERY nice to him. If anyone was mean it had to be him. I proceeded to remind him of a good example (the first red flag was already waving in my head… I ignored it). As if he didn’t know the details already, I recounted them for him. I won’t do that here, but it had to do with my birthday, me being sick and dog puke. You can put the pieces together yourself. Other great examples flooded my brain, but that one seemed adequate enough to prove my point (red flag number two…ignored).
So after this discussion (which he took quite graciously and quietly) I decided to further demonstrate my incredible niceness throughout the rest of the evening. We were headed to Dubuque as a family and I figured this would be the perfect setting for the boys to see how nice I am to their father. What a great example I would prove to be and then Phil would have to eat his words – ha! (Red flag number three… ignored.)
Phil drove. Oh my. After biting my tongue several times I realized this was going to be harder than I thought. If only I had driven instead, it may not have proven such a challenge. We had been in Dubuque for less than an hour; my tongue was sore and I was tired of being silent. The reality finally hit me and I said, “I give up! You are right, I AM mean! I can’t hold it in any longer!” Phil, gracious again, just smiled and shook his head.
We laughed at the time, but it has been very humbling for me. I really didn’t realize how biting I was and how often! I was trying so hard to not be mean, I couldn’t speak. Unkind words so quickly came to my mouth that all I could do was try to block their exit. It was almost painful not to let them fly. Talk about an eye opener, the words from James 3:8 about the tongue come to mind, “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” I had a taste of my own poison and it was awful.
The hard truth is that holding my tongue is important, but that isn’t the full discipline of taming the tongue. We don’t tame something (such as an animal) just to have it stay still and do nothing. We tame it to behave in a specific manner. One way our tongue needs to behave is given to us in Ephesians 4:29, “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.”
Stopping the hurtful words from coming out is not enough, the command is not to be silent. We are instructed to speak words of grace that build a person up. This is not something we can conjure up on our own. What was coming out of my mouth that night (and all too often everyday) demonstrates what is in my heart…and I am not pleased with myself. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18.
My heart needs work…and I’m guessing yours does too. I may not know you, but I have talked to enough women to know that we often travel the same roads and experience the same struggles. How is your heart looking? Is your tongue burning and staining those around you (James 3:6)? I challenge you to examine your words for a single day. You may be quickly shocked like I was. I don’t say this to shame you, just the opposite. These written words of mine are meant to build you up and turn you to Christ; he is the only one who can do the work needed in your heart and mine. It is a process, but one we should be intentionally active in.
Ladies, our mouths should be fountains of life to those around us (Proverbs 10:11). Imagine what talking to each other would be like then! Imagine the growth of our relationships (including our marriages)! The results would be heavenly. I for one am in. Here is my simple prayer today and maybe it can be yours too: “Have your way in my heart, O Lord. Fill me with your Word so that I may overflow with your grace. Amen.”
Go ahead, count your blessings and give thanks this week. Really… do that. Be sure that you are praising God, knowing that “every perfect gift is from above” James 1:17. He deserves all credit, if you don’t understand that, you won’t understand the purpose of life. Displaying gratitude is a great practice, but let’s be honest, it’s really easy to do and all too often it can keep us focused on ourselves and what we have. We may nod our heads at God but then go right on shoveling mashed potatoes into our faces. How about getting more serious this year?
Don’t stop at being thankful for what you have. Take inventory of your blessings and then give them away. Yes, that’s right, give them away.
Many of us women go through cycles of downsizing and “purging” of what we own. This is good, but why do we participate in this cycle at all? We give, but then we take stuff up again. If we were to look at how Christ dealt with possessions we would see a shocking lifestyle! He depended fully on his Father to provide for him as he traveled and went seeking and saving the lost. Jesus never worried about how his needs would be met but they were.
Jesus didn’t even have a place to call home during his ministry. “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Luke 9:58. He was constantly surrounded by crowds whom he ministered to, often sharing what he had available like fish and bread (Matt. 14:13-21). Jesus also walked the grain fields with his disciples where they found lunch “and His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.” Matt. 12:1. This was only done by those who did not have enough food of their own to eat. By the time Jesus died on the cross his only possessions were the clothes on his back and even those were divided up and taken away.
We need to do a better job at looking like Jesus in this area. We may not sell our homes and walk the fields for dinner, but come on, we aren’t even in the ballpark of Christ-likeness here. So time to go beyond the “thanks” and get serious about the “giving”. You may find yourself parting with material possessions like jewelry, clothing, collections, hobby items, a vehicle, or even careers. What you do keep, you need to share and use for the glory of God. Your home should be a ministry outpost, where people gather to be fed from your pantry and the Word of God. You could become foster parents, host Bible studies or house those in need. Or, God may call you to look very much like Jesus and sell everything and trust him in mission work.
This sharing and giving holds true for all areas of life, so don’t neglect a full inventory. Share your skills in order to share Christ. Use your time pouring out love and help onto others as you share biblical knowledge, encouragement and exhortation. Don’t accumulate financial abundance; use your money for Kingdom building, locally and worldwide. Reach the end of your life like Christ, with nothing earthly clinging to you, having given all away for the sake of his name.
Finally, I encourage you to give up the blessings that usually top every list: family and friends. You need to give them to God. Entrust them to his care at all times. You do this by praying for them daily, sharing God’s Word and by understanding that he has full authority over their lives. Lovingly push all those who are precious to you toward Jesus.
Ladies, we need to reflect the generous quality of our God and give freely of all we have been blessed with. Praise God as you count your blessings this year, but don’t stop with an inventory, continue to worship him in how you use every single thing he gives you. Focus on growing rich in Christ as you praise him with open hands, allowing the blessings to flow through.
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:24, 25.
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.
Slam me down and spin me around. Keep me centered. We have been singing a song in church lately that has the line, “Center my life on your name.” Being the pottery nut that I am, the same image pops into my mind every time.
When you are sitting at a potter’s wheel the first thing you have to do is take your lump of clay and center it on the wheel. You do that by shaping it into a ball and then slamming it down on the very center of the wheel. If you miss you must pick it back up, shape it and slam it back down. You have to do this until you get it right. No shortcuts.
Only after you have your portion of clay in the middle of your wheel can you then begin the spinning and go on with the process of molding it and creating something beautiful.
What happens if you don’t get the clay centered and try to move forward with an off-centered lump? Nothing good and nothing beautiful. You will fight it, trying to get the clay centered and to a place where it will be workable. It will eventually be so off-kilter that it will turn into an ugly mess and possibly fly off the wheel all together (I know this from experience).
Our lives in the same way need to be centered on Christ. It is a perfectly simple visual. If we stay centered (if we are in God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers, praying, praising), we are shapeable, malleable, and able to be formed into a vessel of good purpose. We will be drawn vertically upward stretching ourselves toward Godly beauty under the perfect hands of the Potter.
I did not invent this sweet analogy, God did. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.
With God as our potter what can we do as the clay? Be still and know that he is God. We are to remain on the wheel, centered and in his capable hands. Always moving and active yet only in the way that he guides us. Not trying to move in our own direction so that the gracious Potter must pick us up and slam us back down again (for our own good). Not trying to harden ourselves and be resistant under his loving hand. Don’t be ignorant or stubborn clay.
“You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Isaiah 29:16
Sound ridiculous to think of clay talking back to the potter? Yep, sure does! But we do it all the time. We question God’s plan for us, we doubt his intentions, we complain about our form and our seemingly unexciting purpose. We tell him, “Hands off! I can do it myself.” We need to stop sassing back and instead trust him and let him have his way. He is perfect remember, we are not.
Be malleable so he can do his work, growing you up, shaping you to hold more and more of him. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
When centrifugal force starts to pull against us, when we feel the pain and frustration that comes when we flail and come undone in life. Our prayer should be for God to please pick us up and slam us back into the place where we can once again flourish under his care. Difficult? Yes. Painful? Possibly. But oh so worth it. So much better than finding yourself thrown off and left to dry out, all because you did not trust the Potter.
Ladies, let this be your prayer today: “God, do whatever is necessary to center my life upon you that I may be made into something beautiful and can be filled with the treasures of your goodness all for your glory.”
Ladies, how does that sound to you? Receiving a new mind? You may find yourself saying, “Sign me up, this old one just isn’t cutting it anymore! It wanders, is easily confused and it can’t remember a thing!” Trust me, I understand where you are coming from.
Our minds can feel like a war-torn battlefield. Our thoughts compete against one another trying to direct our thinking or demand that they be displayed through emotions. At times we feel defeated by how our brains seem to work (or don’t work). When our thoughts turn to sad memories or past hurts it can affect our day, our week or our lifetime.
Does it have to be this way? Does God care about our minds and how they work? The resounding answer is “Yes!”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” Romans 12:2. This often quoted verse is truly awesome, but did you catch the “renewal” part? We often think this verse refers to us changing as our mind slowly becomes new little by little. Our brains certainly do affect our actions and whether we behave like the World or like Christ. But are they really becoming new little by little, being partially old and partially new?
In Ezekiel 36:26 God states, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This is the eternity-altering, divine heart transplant we rejoice in as Christians. But when God claims you, do you think he simply gives you a new heart and leaves the old brain? Not a chance!
The heart of a person is the core of their being. God redeems their heart which then radiates to every single piece of them. Christ was a fully sufficient sacrifice to redeem all of us, not a partial sacrifice that only afforded a single organ. The Bible speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All the old is gone and what has come is all new.
So the “renewal of your mind” in Romans 12:2 has been accomplished. We are able to be transformed because our mind is made new through Christ. Just as your heart is no longer a slave to sin, neither is your mind, your intellect, your brain, or your thoughts.
This is exciting news to me. I too often get caught up in the mindset that my brain is what it is and that I must put up with the thoughts that I have and the emotions they produce. This is not true! That is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. Command your thoughts to obey Christ through the power of Christ that resides with in you, specifically “the knowledge of God”.
Not allowing yourself to be a slave to your thoughts is something you need to practice. And yes, you will get better at it as you mature and gain increased knowledge of God (so pursue that). Your brain is new, bought and paid for, but like the rest of us, is still on this side of Heaven. We will not get to experience our fully perfect brain until the day we meet Jesus (I’m so happy I will be in my right mind at that moment!). We still must work at becoming smart, Christ-focused women who refuse to allow our minds to sucker us into our old thought habits.
When your mind begins to feel like a battlefield, realize that Christ won long ago and do not allow thoughts of defeat. Fill your mind with the weapon of His Word and grab ahold of the victory already given you by Jesus. Think as the new creation He has made you to be, new brain and all.
Here is a confession: for years I had a love/hate relationship with the Proverbs 31 woman. Can you relate? The women I have talked to lately can. Have you read about her? If not, read it now before you read the rest of this. You can find her in Proverbs 31:10-31. She is the “Excellent Wife” that king Solomon (King Lemuel) wrote about.
She has long been taught and preached as the ideal woman. I never really had a problem with this when I was a young. I had no doubts that I would be just like her; I planned on being the perfect wife and mother. Then I grew up…and life with a husband and kids was harder than I thought it would be. “Perfect” went out the window and was replaced with words like “adequate” and “survival”.
I admit that I was beginning to feel some resentment towards this lady. I didn’t want to read that chapter anymore. Here are a few of her qualities:
“The heart of her husband trusts in her.” (11) Sometimes when I share ideas with Phil, he gives me a look like I am crazy. I’m not sure I instill much confidence.
“She seeks wool and flax.” (13) I know what wool is, but flax? It certainly doesn’t sound very comfortable.
“She brings her food from afar.” (14) Brother’s Market is less than a mile away from my house, but much of the produce is from out of the country. Maybe that counts? But it’s probably covered in pesticides and wax. Don’t get me started on the preservatives I feed my family.
“She rises while it is still night” (15) “her lamp does not go out at night.” (18) This lady never sleeps, how do you compete with that?
“She considers a field and buys it.” (16) I have never bought real estate…on my own…ever.
“She makes bed coverings for herself” (22) “She makes linen garments.” (24) I don’t sew very well and I don’t think my family would appreciate having to wear whatever it is I would make them.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed.” (28) I have to remind my kids to say, “please” and “thank you”. This certainly won’t happen if I make them wear garments I’ve sewn myself out of flax after not sleeping.
I always wished there was a Proverbs 32 woman; an addendum written for those who couldn’t quite live up to the lady in chapter 31. It would include phrases like, “She tries hard” and “She makes great brownies” and “She even plays Monopoly with her kids when she doesn’t feel like it.” Those I could handle.
Obviously, I jest. Yet crazy things like this would run through my mind when reading the chapter. I thought this woman was just another glossy magazine model I could never dream of being.
So why is the Proverbs 31 woman in the Bible? Would God, who loves me, put something in the Bible just to make me feel bad? Part of the answer lies in that question - God loves me! He included these verses in the Bible for a reason and (as everything in the Bible) it is for my good. I believe that about the rest of Scripture so I can’t exclude these verses from that same reasoning.
When I got my perspective corrected I began to see things a little more clearly. The Bible is full of statements such as is found in 1 Peter 1:16, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” and Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” God expects perfection and will never lessen his standards to accommodate us. This should not surprise us or discourage us, quite the opposite really. What kind of God would hold to low standards and accept anything less than perfection? No God I would want to serve. I want a perfect God in every way; otherwise he would not be fit to govern this universe.
We don’t take up issue when we are told to be like Jesus, yet it is one and the same calling as the Proverbs 31 woman. This woman never existed in real life; Jesus is the only perfect human who has ever walked the earth. Yet she is the epitome of perfection in godly womanhood. Proverbs 31 is a masterfully written prose from a loving Father who is graciously setting out standards for his beloved daughters. This ideal of a godly woman is a gift to us, letting us know what to aspire to and a tool for prioritizing our lives appropriately.
So how are we to be perfect? The simple answer is we can’t be. But, praise God for Jesus! His perfect sacrifice was sufficient to cover all of our failings. Because of him, we can stand in the presence of God someday, with his righteousness in place of our own. We become more like this ideal woman when the Holy Spirit inside of us enables us to be more like Christ. This does not happen under our own power or by us striving for perfection in our own power, only through dependence on him.
I no longer have issues with this woman in Proverbs 31. Reading about her now reminds me of God’s extravagant love for me. I get a glimpse of what I can be when empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is through Christ that I can be found to be worth “far more than jewels.”
I enCOURAGE you to read Proverbs 31 with this new perspective today. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
Do I really need to say more? It seems quite self-explanatory to me. In our constant pursuit for perfection (or at least as close as we can get) how often do we stop and think what we are really striving for?
We think it would be awesome to be perfect; preferably in as many areas as possible. We want to be Wonder Woman, or Super Mom if you prefer the name, same thing.
We want to have a well decorated home, that is well kept and always clean. Same with the kids, hubby and certainly ourselves - well decorated and clean. Physically beautiful and fit? You bet. Wonder Woman so obviously is. And haven’t you ever envied her ability to fly? Wow, I sure have! That has to make life easier.
But if I had to guess, being Wonder Woman is probably pretty lonely. Who could measure up to all that? What would you talk about? You probably wouldn’t want to invite her to your home to meet your husband.
So why do we find ourselves wishing to be like her? Wanting to be found fantastic and amazing in every way? Oh, how our hearts deceive us so easily. Sinful desires creep in and lead us to into discontent with the blessings God has lovingly assigned to us.
It is truly a heart issue. We begin to worry more about what others think of us or even what we think of ourselves over and above what God thinks of us. We forget we are playing for an audience of one and we begin to act out dramatically for an imagined audience in our heads who have no sway over our value or identity.
The Bible tells us that we are vessels for him. “For we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 1 Corinthians 4:7. This treasure is disclosed in the verse prior, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
We are called to let the light of the treasure of Christ shine through our weaknesses, the thin spots in the clay. Often the parts we don’t like on display.
How could we show that the treasure (what is truly valuable) belongs to God and not to us if we were Wonder Woman or Super Mom? We would get the credit when the hurting and dying world looks our way, trying to figure out just how we do it all. We would be thieves, stealing glory due to God.
The beauty and display of Jesus comes from weak vessels displaying greatness that could only come from someone greater. This is why God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Amen to that. We should actually boast in our weakness, ladies, not our strengths.
As I think about my closest friends and imagine them next to Wonder Woman, I have to laugh. They don’t compare either, and I love it that way! Praise God, he has been lovingly creative with us. Our lives of imperfection can speak volumes of the grace of Jesus Christ and how he alone makes us wonderful and super.
We were not created to be like Wonder Woman or the fictitious Super Mom, we were created to have a need for a savior. Our lives and even our bodies were created exactly the way they are in order to produce the most glory for God possible in our lives. This is what true beauty is all about, reflecting the beauty of Christ. I enCOURAGE you to look for it in those around you, your sisters in Christ. Look for it in yourself.
It was one of those days… the kind where everything was out of control. The boys were either being wildly excited and loud or fighting like wildcats and even louder. Every inch of progress I would make seemed to get erased within 10 minutes by the two whirlwinds behind me. There was a reason their Grandmother called them Hurricane Peyton and Tornado Troy.
Although “chaos” would have adequately described my kitchen, I had still managed to get a decent supper on the table by the time Phil got home. My dear hubby could sense my mood as he tried to help get the table ready (yes, good Spidey senses do slowly develop as a husband matures, thank you Lord!). He tread lightly around me, trying not to do or say anything that might accidentally spark my shortened fuse.
I finally plopped the last dish on the table and sat down in a huff, feeling quite flustered and exhausted from the long day. Phil began to pray and while I breathed in Jesus (recall that blog?) I tried to remind myself that those praying with me at that moment were really gifts from God (wow is he a creative gift-giver, and with a mighty unique sense of humor I might add).
As soon as our heads lifted and our eyes cracked open, my youngest, Troy, stood up out of his chair and grabbed a huge forkful of fettucine, dripping with Alfredo sauce. He held it as far above his head as his arm could reach and slowly began to lower the long swaying strands of pasta toward his big mouth, making wild growling sounds like a hungry wolf about to eat his prey.
Suddenly the twisted wad of pasta slipped off the end of his fork and smacked him in the center of his face before falling and managing to hit his shirt, the chair and finally the floor. For the first time all day the whole house was silent. Everyone, fully aware of Mom’s strained mood, turned to me in obvious anticipation of what my reaction would be. I could see the fear in their eyes.
In my own mind (as we super-powered moms can do) I quickly assessed the fallout this attention-seeking antic would cause: the cleanup of the floor and the chair and the son, the stain removal from the shirt and the added laundry, the cost of the food he just wasted, and how this child obviously needs better discipline! Would this be the final blow that caused me to (justifiably) erupt…???
Ahh… what the heck… I burst out laughing. Seeing that fettucine bop him in the face and the look of surprise in his eyes was too much. It was seriously funny, and I let loose laughing like a crazy woman. After everyone realized I was not going to freak out, they laughed hard too. The laughs continued and from that moment on the whole tone of the evening changed.
It was a split second decision to love instead of be angry; to share joy instead of more angst. I don’t always make good choices in moments like this, but this one taught me a good lesson. Sometime you just need to SHOCK your kids with undeserved grace. It helps them and you at the same time. It is a powerful reminder of the utterly undeserved gracious gift of God that we are given in Jesus Christ. What a truly shocking reality that is.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.
The love of our Father God should blow us away. He never runs out and is always generous. We should love others the same way, always being full of grace. “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16.
I challenge you to find ways to shock others with this type of grace. The next time someone wrongs you, forgive them right away. When your husband puts his foot in his mouth… again (those Spidey senses don’t always kick in quick enough), don’t pout and act hurt, decide to laugh, roll your eyes and love him anyway.
And every once in a while, give those kids a break and shock them with CRAZY grace! When they know they have done wrong or made a bad decision, grab them, hug them, and tell them you love them and forgive them because God has forgiven you for all of the wrong you have done. Let them feel a small portion of the release and freedom that the power of grace provides.
When the opportunity arises, I enCOURAGE you to make a split second decision to love.