Proverbs 31 29 ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.
“What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?”
Ladies, the moment you have been waiting for! Here is a scripture that CLEARLY blesses women’s work outside the home. I mean, no one lives at the city gate right? It’s public. It’s work. It’s a feminist’s dream. The catch? It involves humility. Not telling people what to do or being large and in charge. Good old fashioned, Jesus-like servant leadership.
In many Christian circles servant leadership is a popular term that has come to describe men’s roles as leaders in the lives of women or in the church. I, personally, used to love this term. To me servant leadership meant no leadership at all. Kind of like a get off free pass until Jesus comes back.
Matthew 24 45 ‘Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But supposing that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
the desire for recognition is one reason why some women shriek at the thought of working in their homes full-time and some men scoff at the idea of being the primary breadwinner for the family
Is chaotic freedom from rules really what Jesus had in mind for us though?
1 Corinthians 14 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
Certainly not. Until God showed me my need and my cleverly hidden pride (that is cleverly hidden from myself), I liked the idea of men leading by not leading at all. Maybe others will not admit this but many have come to love the concept of servant leadership when teaching men to be spiritual leaders because in a lot of ways it looks no different than the passivity Adam displayed in the garden. Far from “see something say something” this kind of leadership (which is really no leadership at all!) calls men to see something and do nothing, in the name of the Holy God.
Jesus rebuked the disciples and pointed out to them their haughtiness in what has commonly become the hallmark scripture for directing men to so-called servant leadership aka be passive and act the way you would without Jesus.
Matthew 20 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom. 22 ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’ 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rules of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus addresses the pride of the men in wanting to be recognized for their greatness. This concept has a clear application for believers and their work. In sum, do not seek recognition. I believe that the desire for recognition is one reason why some women shriek at the thought of working in their homes full-time and some men scoff at the idea of being the primary breadwinner for the family. Men do not want to work that hard for someone else (or several others if it is a large family) without the absolute assurance of lavish recognition for their efforts. Women do not want to work that hard if it is not for someone else because they desire the stamp of a widely respected job description or a high profile boss to confirm that they are in fact doing something worthwhile. Thus, women seek recognition in that way. Jesus’s standards for male leadership is clear from other parts of scripture. It does not involve passivity as many use this passage to justify. It does involve sacrifice, which is not shutting up when a man disrespects God, the Bible, or the women and children he is supposed to be willing to die for in the name of Jesus.
A New Testament scripture found in (yes I am about to go there!), 1 Timothy helps us define what those good works look like for godly women.
1 Timothy 5 9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband. 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
I think that giving your employees gifts cards around Christmas can scarcely be considered washing the feet of the saints and sending a check around the world (though it may serve a purpose) can scarcely be considered rescuing those in trouble.
My husband and I have a practice of not telling someone about the Word or Jesus without caring for some material need of theirs
I just learned about a restaurant today called “Sprinkles” so I will use that now to create a picture for you of how your life can look the scriptures instead of just mentioning the scriptures a lot. The Lord desires for the life of a believing woman to “sprinkle” gospel seeds everywhere she goes. When you are working the way God commissions you to work in His Word He will arrange things for you and put things in your path as He did for me today. Today was a bit unusual for me. It was one of those days where I actually felt a little in sync with the work that God was doing in me and through me. Crazy right? The physical therapist I normally go to had a death in the family the day of my usual appointment and so had to cancel. As a result I ended up doing therapy at another time and with another therapist. I was on a schedule and in places at times I normally would not be.
At therapy the assistant and therapist I was working with started talking about the premature (whatever that means…) deaths of several celebrities that had just been announced. “That is why the faith I follow tells us to prepare people for death first and life second,” I remarked. An older lady sitting next to me for a “stem and ice treatment” as they call it at physical therapy struck up a conversation with me. “Did you hear someone was murdered and in my neighborhood?! It was all over the news with helicopters and everything?” “Well, that is why my husband I pray for ourselves and others everyday. We are all vulnerable,” I said back. Sprinkle here. Sprinkle there.
For anyone who suffers from illness or disability or whatever else God can work through it. The many times I was in the ER I felt called to pray for others around me who may not know the Lord. On one occasion I heard a doctor say to a patient in the breathing unit,”God loves you. He really really loves you. Did you know that? You had a blood clot and you came in just in time. Any later and you would not be alive.” God loves you. The world needs more of that.
Back to my story. I saw a woman sitting at a bus stop on the way to therapy. She looked super forlorn and I doubted whether she was waiting for a bus. I thought to myself we’ll see. When I came out of physical therapy there she was on the sidewalk right outside of my appointment. I saw her, stepped on the break and put my car in reverse. That’s all it takes. Break. Reverse. Now, you are on mission for Jesus.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
I went and sat down next to her on the sidewalk. I asked her if she needed anything. She didn’t answer and she didn’t look at me. Tough crowd, I thought to myself. Usually is, the Holy Spirit answered back. So we sat in silence. I didn’t move. Then I said again I can go get you food or something. I have learned, thankfully due to God’s teaching, that many many people are on the street because of drug use or something like that and so it can be way more loving to get them something they can use instead of giving them money. She said, “I’m thirsty.” “Ok. I’ll be back then. I am going to go get you something.” Before I left I grabbed a daily bread devotional book from my car. A treasure I just so happened to have ordered a while back and I just so happened to have on hand in the car because I don’t have another full time job I do that isolates me from the need in the world and God’s mission for women who are already provided for and so I had the time to hear about it. Additionally, I used my “professional skills” (i.e. my brain) with the help of God’s Holy Spirit to think of the idea of leaving them in the car for a time like this. I also recently discovered I am allergic to a key ingredient in many of my prized, luxurious body products. Remorsefully, I set them aside to be given away with a bad attitude to accompany the thoughtful idea. When I saw this woman though I was happy to give it away. It seems she could really use a pick me up. I grabbed the devotional and the lotion and handed them to her at the same time. My husband and I have a practice of not telling someone about the Word or Jesus without caring for some material need of theirs. The idea is in scripture too.
James 2 14 What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead.
1 John 3 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
I headed out to a nearby fast food place, purchased a water bottle along with a large combo and brought it back to the lady. I wasn’t sure if she was going to still be there so I got her something I would eat just in case. Possibly a wise practice in terms of dealing with her generously as I know the Lord would want. I sat back down on the sidewalk next to her and handed her the items. She looked me in the face and thanked me then we both stared back towards the street. “Do you have any prayer requests I could pray for?” I finally said out loud, not really knowing what else I could do. She shook her head no, so I looked her straight in the eyes and told her, “God loves you. He wants you. He hasn’t stopped wanting you.” She just stared back so I left. Here a sprinkle. There a sprinkle.
When I got back to my apartment a homeless woman we had helped and had gotten to know was in my parking spot. After being clean for a few days she was back on the street. She said something just called her back. As I was pulling up, I saw a lady wearing a Muslim scarf hand her some food and say something to her before walking away. I rolled down my window and asked her if she lived here. She told me she did not. Then I told her the lady she helped was a friend of mine. She seemed relieved and noted that she seems like she could really use help. I told her my husband and I had spent and lot of time praying with her and talking to her about Jesus Christ because we were Christians and that the woman-our friend-had subsequently gone off drugs for a few days though she had been hooked for several decades before that. Before we parted the woman with the scarf told me God bless you and left. A little sprinkle here.
I then began talking to our friend about the enemy’s plans for her on the street and that Jesus’s plans for her involve rules but His plans are still far are better. I spoke loudly to her and boldly-really it was Jesus speaking because He is the one brave enough for such things not me-as she stared at me and nodded in agreement. Several people passed by during that time-about 5 at least. More sprinkles there.
Are you catching on? When you have a willing heart Jesus will make the appointments. You book interview after interview for yourself trying to find the perfect job. But this job for the perfect Boss is set up for you by God Himself. All you need to do is show up with an attitude of loving the gospel more than your next breath and loving the needs you see around you more than you love being right. I have not lived with this kind of love for most of my life. But God reached inside my heart about put it there. I am proud to call Him my God and I want more than ANYTHING to be called His own by His very mouth. HE is a great boss and I highly recommend the job. It’s doesn’t always pay but it is noble work a believing woman can be proud of because it is first and foremost God’s work.
Ladies, you were created to let your light shine on a lamp stand, Luke 11:33, just like the men! You were created to do good works in public, to be praised “at the city gate” in Bible speak, that make your Maker, Jesus, Colossians 1:16, look good before the world. Men who are able are called to work hard, make money, and then spend it on other people-something their carnal nature hates-all for the glory of God as well. It is not a normal practice of mine to use statistics in a word of revelation along side scripture but I feel it could be helpful to share this one: research shows women in the older age group gave 89% more than men their same age and women in the top 25% income category, gave 156% more than men in the same income category. See this article for more http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-gender-gap-in-charitable-giving-1454295689. This is one of MANY articles with stats like this.
Women feel good about themselves from spending money on others and taking care of others’ needs. It, thus, make sense that that is not a cross that Christ is calling them to carry because it is no cross at all. Men feel good about having things done for them and not having to spend a dime on something someone else wants. Again, NO responsibility for providing is NOT a cross for men. Christ calls men to the cross of spending their earnings for others who may not appreciate it, with no warm fuzzy feelings from sharing to keep them motivated, just Jesus on the cross next to them as their only consolation. Women are called to good works that man do not even consider to be work at all. The most debasing and humiliating kind of work for a woman being work where she gets no recognition that it is in fact work she is doing. When she does this work she carries her cross next to the Lord. The Lord’s voice, and the voice of those who are His on occasion, is her ONLY recognition. And He will shout over this women with loving recognition the day she meets Him when she dies: well done good and faithful servant.
Be blessed in Christ you who carry your cross of working without recognition in the name of the Lord! Amen.