I’ve said a lot about being careful how much time we spend on our hobbies, so they don’t distract us from what we should be doing. But I haven’t said a lot yet about what scripture lays out for women to do. Here are three passages that we’re all familiar with but that we always need reminding of, and sometimes require looking at in a new light.
Proverbs 31. The Proverbs 31 woman is busy caring for her family, helping her husband so he can sit in the gates, and preparing for the future. What she does is productive (v. 31), but she is praised not for what she does, but because she fears the Lord. Are you emulating her in your business or in your fear of the Lord? (Hopefully both!)
Titus 2. While we invest time in physical homemaking skills that can be learned more easily (especially the non-essentials like knitting and sewing), we need to be sure we are learning character – are you self-controlled? Kind? Pure? Are you being trained by older women in these areas? Paul is very clear that the woman’s role is in the home – but that doesn’t mean eating bon bons all day and that doesn’t mean that our job is just to cook and clean – there’s more to be prepared for than that. These character traits are often learned in practical skills that are challenging because they are hard to accomplish or because they are so easy and “little” that we must use self-control to turn off Facebook or Pinterest and do the dishes.
1 Timothy 5. One day, many women will be widows. While we don’t want to dwell on that, the list provided in verses 9-15 are important – because those who are widows supported by the church are women who are already doing these things when their husbands die. Do you have a reputation for good works? Have you shown hospitality? Cared for the afflicted? Washed the feet of saints (literally or serving them in other ways)? Or are you an idler, gossip, and busy body? And what does Paul tell the younger widows to do? Marry, bear children, and manage their households, knowing this will keep them out of sin and also that it’s God’s design for women.
While I was reading these, I realized we don’t have time to do this and keep up with all of our hobbies. Obeying these commands and following these patterns will mean we have to give some things up. It doesn’t mean we never do anything we enjoy or that we can never pick up knitting needles again, but before we do so we must weigh our motives and obedience. What we’re giving up is temporal, and the time invested in souls (notice how almost all of what we’re told to do is relational) will bear fruit.
Preparing for motherhood is good, and is a godly goal. But we need to be sure we’re preparing for the right things and investing in what really matters. A meek and quiet spirit is harder to learn than making bread and cleaning sinks, and it’s more important than a clean house and good food. But even so, you don’t learn a meek and quiet spirit in books. You learn it in real life – when the baby gets ahold of your knitting or when schedule conflicts mean you give something you really wanted to do to cook for the sick. You learn it when you’re cleaning sinks, especially when the sink is your own family’s and there’s no glamor or pride in saying you helped the single mother. Volunteering at the pregnancy center is not “holier” than honoring your parents by doing the dishes. In fact, the girl who honors her parents is being more obedient than the girl who leaves duties at home for even the “best” ministry or dishonors her parents.
But why? Why does this matter? Is it going to save us?
What we do doesn’t save us. Christ saves us. He alone can bear the wrath of God for our sins and bring us to God.
But, in Romans 12, after 11 chapters of the glories of God and the gospel, Paul appeals to his readers, saying that because of God’s great mercy to us in saving us, to present our bodies as living sacrifices. And then he gives guidelines for Christian living.
Living a certain way will not save you. Being a “good Christian girl” will not save you – whether that goodness is knitting and baking or caring for the afflicted and showing hospitality. But there is a way to live that shows His saving grace and that leads to a life that adorns the gospel rather than reviling His word (Titus 2:5).
I recently heard of another wise woman I know advising her children when they asked about some other people they’d met who said they were Christians but didn’t act like it. She explained the difference to them between belief and saving faith. Even the demons believe. Is your belief saving faith? So you must ask yourself: is your Christianity just belief? This is a question to be asked by the girl who is immodestly dressed and the girl who only wears skirts.
This takes two levels: there’s the first level of living a self-righteous life or being saved by Christ, and a second level of being good, of living rightly… but being very inward focused, of keeping to yourself rather than engaging unbelievers and building up the church.
If God has saved you, then examine what you’re living for and what kingdom you’re investing in. Are you keeping His commands or just doing what people around you think of as good? Examine your heart to test your motives: if you’re hospitable and care for the saints, but do it for your own glory, then it’s not good – and the girl who just knits and bakes but does it to serve and not bring attention to herself may be more faithful.
If you’re not a believer, then I urge you to repent, to call on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Talk to your parents, or a Christian friend, or pastor, or comment here – if you haven’t commented before it won’t be public unless you want it to be, and then I’ll have a way to contact you.
In the next post, I’ll list some of the practical outworkings of the previous two posts in my life, and hope to encourage you in your own pursuit of Christ and godliness. In the meantime, remember this: we can produce a lot and not be fruitful. We can check off all the things on our lists and yet not be faithful.