Posts Tagged ‘Eve’

thinking womanLet’s continue with opportunity #3 —


A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30b).

Fear and Love the Lord.  Martin Luther begins each of the meanings for the Ten Commandments with: “We should fear and love God . . . .”  In a sinful world, “fear” and “love” hardly seem to fit together.  But the Heavenly Father can be both feared (for His justice) and loved (for His mercy).  How does this give freedom to modern women?

Reject the Deception of the World.  The Christian woman is often reminded of the Proverbs 31 woman.  But do we know why she was praised?  Church Father St. Bernard of Clairvaux draws us away from the idea that this woman was praised for her spectacular work.  He wrote, “You have been able to reject the deceitful glory of the world . . . you deserve to be praised for not being deceived.” (The Lutheran Study Bible ESV, Commentary on Proverbs 31:30-31, page 1047.)  How was the first woman, Eve, deceived?  Why did Satan approach her rather than the man?  What is the deceitful glory of the world?  How do we resist it?  How do we help others resist it?

Discern Personal Mentors.  Whose counsel and advice do we seek?  Do we surround ourselves with women in the same situation and circumstance as our own or do we glean wisdom from “older” women who have matured in the face of challenge?  What kind of reading material is on our coffee table or by our bedside?  Have we been influenced by human opinions and fickle emotion… or the Word of the Lord who calls Himself “the Alpha and Omega”?

Resist the Temptation to Divide Generations.  Bring older and younger women together in Titus 2-style groups.  Suggested resources include Titus 2 for Life, Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (a ten-lesson reproducible Bible study on modesty and clothing available from CPH [#LFLDFL]), Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations (a 12-lesson Bible study with leader’s guide from CPH [#LFL901BS]), The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, and Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  We can encourage and be encouraged by building relationships across generations.

Take Care Not to Burn Bridges.  Sometimes, the relationship of two women can suffer because of a difference in thought or behavior.  Even so, the Holy Spirit may keep that person close to the heart.  Perhaps we will be nudged to send a simple “thinking of you” card or a gift on her birthday.  We do well in not resisting opportunities to reach out.  For example, years after a Christian woman had an abortion followed by a divorce, she wrote her friend, “Thank you for keeping the communication open and not burning any bridges.  You have not abandoned me.”  That friendship was restored in greater measure.  How do such invaluable lessons encourage others?

Send a card.  This may be the age of e-mail, texting and Facebook, but none of these replace a personal phone call, handwritten note or card.  We all like to be remembered, don’t we?  It is not uncommon to send a card and then have the recipient, sometime later, ask, “How did you know that I needed encouragement that day?”  If we can’t find the right message or can’t afford a pricey card, we can write a favorite Bible passage on a note and tuck it in an envelope with a tea bag or pre-packaged coffee pouch.

Start a Mother’s Group.  Include “older” and “younger” moms.  In a mobile society, young moms are often miles away from their mothers and grandmothers.  They are in need of older women who can mentor self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and why submission to husbands is obedience to God (Titus 2:5).  Offer opportunity to learn from faithful biblical practice in the home, but also mistakes made and lessons learned.  Experienced moms can point to the discipline of God’s Law and offer the forgiveness and life-changing hope of the Gospel.  Even in a changed culture, God’s Word for women provides all we need to persevere in the vocation of motherhood.   Can you count the ways that godly motherhood influences children and impacts society?

What’s Next?  #4: Mentor a Changed Attitude

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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Joseph and MaryJoseph, a young man from the house of David, was probably like every other soon-to-be husband: nervous, but excited all the same.  That is, until his fiancée came to him with shocking news.  Mary was pregnant, but Joseph was not the father.  The world, as Joseph knew it, had collapsed around him.  He felt betrayed, hurt, angry.  Break the engagement, whispered his pride, and walk away from this woman.

Everything had changed.  Plans were ruined.  Reputation was at stake.  Unchartered territory lay ahead.  At this precarious moment in his life, Joseph had nothing to hang on to… nothing, that is, except the Word of the Lord.

The Word gave Joseph courage.  “Don’t be afraid!”  It was the word that showed Joseph how to be faithful.  “Take Mary as your wife.  She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Perhaps, in holding on to the Word, Joseph remembered the experience of his ancestor, Adam.  Perhaps, in a moment of truth and with eyes focused, Joseph could picture Adam standing next to his wife, Eve.  Perhaps, with wisdom only from the Holy Spirit, Joseph recognized the significance of Eve’s creation by God from man’s rib.

God made (literally: “built”) woman using part of man.  With this, He established their relationship within the order of creation.  A rib is structural; it supports.  A rib guards and protects the heart and breath of life, yet it is vulnerable.  Under attack, it can easily be fractured or even broken.  Satan despises the order of creation that God uses to protect the man and woman He so loves.  So, that day in the Garden, Satan set his target and went straight to Adam’s rib.  The man was responsible for using God’s Word to cover his wife, yet he did nothing.  Joseph knew the consequences that followed.

Perhaps, with discernment only from God, Joseph understood that he must not repeat the sin of his ancestor and do to his rib what Adam had done to his.

Perhaps, in remembering what Adam had failed to do, Joseph was given the courage to cover his wife, Mary, and lead her to safety.  Let the village talk!  Adjust carefully-made plans!  Trust the Word of the Lord!  Although it meant leaving his zone of comfort, Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do.  He covered his rib by taking Mary as his wife.  And, when Mary’s child was born, Joseph named Him Jesus.

God wanted Joseph to make a difference – a difference that would impact the world.  But, such a difference could be made only by being faithful.  Such faithfulness required that Joseph leave all that was familiar and put his life and the life of Mary into the hands of God.

Today, when a young man pressures his girlfriend to have sex, he is leaving her physically, emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable.  He has placed his “needs” before hers and, in so doing, left her open to attack.  When a man does not promise to love, cherish, and cover a woman with his name, but simply share living quarters and a bed, he is leaving her open to attack.  When a man fathers a child but does not accept the privilege and responsibility of being a daddy, he is leaving both mother and child uncovered and vulnerable to the world.

But, when a man remembers God and His call to leadership, he is able to make a difference.  A young man who guards his girlfriend’s virtue makes a difference.  A husband who remains true to his wife makes a difference.  A dad who understands the privilege, responsibility, and generational influence of fatherhood makes a difference.  Men of faithfulness have a grand opportunity to defend against chaos and leave a legacy of hope.

Convenience told Joseph to walk away from Mary.  Self-defense told Joseph to think of “number one.”  Pride told Joseph that he could do better.  Fear told Joseph to hide.  But, God told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.

Joseph did what the angel of the Lord commanded.  He covered Mary, his rib, and the unborn Child whose heart beat under her own.  And, after the Baby was born in the most humble of circumstances, Joseph named the Child Jesus.  Through all the frightening days ahead, Joseph remembered the Word of the Lord.  And the Lord did not forget Joseph.  In the midst of danger, the angel of the Lord warned Joseph.  When uncertainty abounded, the angel of the Lord directed Joseph.

It’s true that life wasn’t ever the same for Joseph.  It certainly wasn’t what he had planned.  But, Joseph remembered the Word of the Lord.  And, in doing so, he received courage to do what was asked of him.  Joseph was faithful to cover Mary, his rib.  He raised her Son Jesus in a godly home and took Him to worship.  Some 2000 years later, the Boy who grew to be a Man in the house of a carpenter is still changing lives.

Joseph made a difference.

Copyright 2010

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An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life (Proverbs 31:10-11)

The Proverbs 31 woman seems to receive lots of praise from both men and women.  But, perhaps the praise is for something different than we think.

The first woman, Eve, fell into sin when she failed to trust God, doubted His Word, and determined for herself what was right and wrong.  This is not the case with the Proverbs 31 woman.   She appears to know her identity as a feminine creature loved and valued by God.  She trusts God and the fruit of that trust is her service to others.  She does all that she does — smart and talented as she is — for her household, her family, her husband — out of love for the Lord.  She does not focus on having her needs met, but on meeting the needs of others.  She does not sit at the “gates” of the community “among the elders;” her husband does (v.23).  She practices self-control because “she opens her mouth with wisdom” (not foolishness) and “the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (v. 26).

If we cannot praise the first woman, Eve, because she doubted and was deceived, then think about it.  Why can we praise the Proverbs 31 woman?    One of the early church fathers, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, wrote, “You have been enabled to reject the deceitful glory of the world . . . you deserve to be praised for not being deceived.”

So, then, “the heart of her husband trusts in her.”

Eve was tempted by a distortion of truth.  Vulnerable — and not trusting God, she allowed herself to be deceived.  I venture to say that the Proverbs 31 woman, living in a fallen and sinful world, was also tempted by distortions of truth.  But, every time she put her trust in God, she was able to reject the “progressive” trends, lifestyles, and behaviors of the world around her.

In being submissive (remember gals: Jesus is God, yet He was submissive to the Father), a wife can win her husband for the Lord even if he is disobedient to the Word.  It is not a woman’s outer appearance that influences a man so much as it is the “hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:1-4).  This is how “holy women” who put their hope in God have always adorned themselves (v. 5).

So, then, “the heart of her husband trusts in her.”

Now, it’s time to get personal.  I’m a wife.  I’ve had my “Eve days” and my “Proverbs 31 woman” days.  The prince of darkness likes to see me in conflict.  But, when the Holy Spirit nudges me out of myself to see the men in my life, I recognize their fragility.  My husband and sons, my dad and brother, my brother-in-laws and uncles all know how to tackle the “hard work” of life, make their way through obstacles, and faithfully provide for and cover their families.  But, they often aren’t sure what to do with the relational side.  They may appear strong, but feel weak.  They may seem heartless, but feel wounded.  They may look confidant and even arrogant, but feel like a failure.  The heart of a man needs the “gentle and quiet spirit” of a godly woman.

The Proverbs 31 woman was aware of the feminine influence God had given to her, but she was not deceived into abusing that influence.  I wonder: Could her husband open up to her because he knew she would bring him good not harm?  Could he have confidence in her respect for him even when she disagreed with his leadership?   Could he trust her to act rightly toward him no matter if she was having a good — or bad — day?  Could he depend on her for an encouraging word, even in the midst of difficulty?  I think so.

So, then, “the heart of her husband trusts in her.”

In all of my travels and all of my conversations with both men and women, I hear the same message: Wives need loving affirmation, conversation, and commitment.  Husbands need respect.  They receive this respect in a number of ways including intimacy, companionship, and domestic support and admiration.  The “heart of her husband trusts in her” when she speaks well of him to his children and in the community.  A godly man knows when he’s failing.  When his wife speaks well of him in front of children or friends, he knows she isn’t giving him a pass or letting him off the hook.  What he recognizes and values is her loyalty and “gentle and quiet spirit.”  This encourages him to try harder, to do better.

Well, that’s how I see it.  Anyone reading this may disagree.  That’s o.k.  I’m not calling myself a Proverbs 31 woman because I too often act like Eve.   The struggle within me between deception and truth rages on.  But, I have hope:

Those whose eyes rest on the Savior’s Cross will be renewed and transformed.  Those who trust the Lord will obtain the wisdom needed to oppose deceit.

So… “the heart of her husband trusts in her.”  He praises her, not because of what she does, but because she has been enabled to reject the deceit of the world.

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