The Bible and history are full of women who stood with their God and kept the faith in dark times. While there has never been a time when it was easy to stand for one’s faith, our present culture has made it increasingly difficult, especially for godly women. It is one thing to live in the shelter of a warm Christian home, or gather with saints in a caring assembly atmosphere, but it’s totally different to live out your faith in this godless world which mocks God’s standards and belittles what He values. How are women to maintain purity? Is it possible for them to impact the community in a meaningful and lasting way for the kingdom of God? How are they to share the gospel story and reflect the glory of Christ in a way that will draw others to Him? These are a few of the many questions that rise, and we are thankful the Word of God is not silent.
It is important for us to understand that the world’s mindset, values, and ways have not changed since the entrance of sin. In his epistle, John describes the world in a threefold manner by saying, “All that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world” (1John 2:16, ESV). Anything that finds its root in these three can be described as “from the world.” While time, circumstances, and cultures change, the world has not. The world is still just as corrupt and evil as it has been from the start and it is totally anti-God and anti-Christ. The contemporary Christian woman will need every resource in Christ, along with the support of godly men, to survive and even thrive in such an environment.
God made the first woman extremely beautiful, and His goal for every woman since is that she might reflect His beauty in this world. The beauties that God is looking for are inward qualities of character in a woman earnestly seeking after His heart. As His daughters seek Him and submit to His will in their lives, He gently and lovingly refines their character to make them more like Jesus. In 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul focuses on some of the qualities that God greatly values in women: submission, faith, love, holiness, and self control. When Eve stepped outside her authority sphere and sinned by taking the forbidden fruit, she catapulted all her daughters into an ensuing power struggle. God explained that she would desire to control her husband and he would seek to dominate her (Gen 3:16). God calls each of us to live in submission to Him and to those He has placed in authority over us; children to their parents, wives to their husbands, all believers to the elders of their assembly, and each believer to the other (Eph 5:21). When this submission characterizes women of faith whose lives are marked by holiness, self control, and a love for God and others, they are truly radiant with beauty.
One very important principle in Scripture is that we allow inward character to shape and direct what is visible and external. It is very easy for women, as well as men, to spend an excessive amount of time, money, and energy in focusing on the external. This is the worldly mindset that God wants us to avoid. It is not that God desires sisters to dress in a careless unkempt manner. The point of the passage is that there should not be an undue focus on the external. We need to be careful not to set up rules and regulations regarding clothing. No one expects sisters of western culture to dress like the first century women of the middle east. Verse 9 says that women should adorn themselves with modesty. This is not to hide their physical beauty, nor is it to promote and display their body in a sensual way. Paul cautions against using gold, pearls, and costly attire to draw attention to self. In other words, dress in a manner that is becoming and that glorifies God rather than self.
God wants His daughters to be adorned with good works (1Tim 2:10). Dorcas, the seamstress of Acts 9, is an excellent example of this. She used her ability for the glory of God in her locality of Joppa. Luke describes her as “full of good works and acts of charity” (Acts 9:36, ESV). As sisters exercise their gifts and use their time to reach out, encourage, and strengthen those around them, God is glorified. As they engage their culture in their unique feminine way, it is a huge asset to the spread of the gospel. This does not replace or deny the power and necessity of the preached Word, but should accompany it for the furtherance of the gospel and the building up of the church.
My encouragement to each sister is to carefully guard the quiet time you need alone with your God. Focus on His great love for you. Let it sink deeply into your heart. Allow Him to fill you with His strength and courage, and as Christ is developed in you, pour yourself out for Him. Use your time, gifts, and energy in the sphere God has placed you, for the furtherance of the gospel, and the blessing of His people.