Whenever I think of Mary, a woman who sat at Jesus’ feet and chose “… that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42), I think of her as ‘a woman after God’s own heart’. She knew it was important to stop all activity and to set aside secondary things, in order to focus completely on the Lord and to spend time worshiping Him. This description of Mary has always made a huge impression on me. I often think to myself, “I would love to be known and to be remembered as ‘a woman after God’s own heart’”. For this reason, I have read many books and articles, listened to many CD’s, and am being mentored by an older and wiser woman, on how to be a godly woman in an ungodly generation. It is my deepest desire to love Him, worship Him, obey Him, please Him and serve Him, all the days of my life! It is the cry of my heart to establish and advance His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, by being a woman of godly influence. To be God’s woman, loving Him passionately with my whole heart, is my greatest desire and it is also my greatest desire to have other women join me as we seek to be the women God calls us and will empower us to be, women after His own heart! Our transformation into becoming more and more like Him is most definitely His work, but what I hope to offer here are the insights, understandings and disciplines we can follow in order to place ourselves before the Lord, so that He can do that work in our hearts and lives, for His glory!
CULTURE AT WAR WITH GOD
In today’s culture, we are daily bombarded with the world’s perspective of what womanhood, beauty and success is all about. Because every culture of the world is at war with God, if we follow this culture, we will be embracing its rebellion against God. This is why He commands us not to “… learn to follow the abominations of those nations” (Deuteronomy 18:9), but to “… be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40).
IS BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD OLD FASHIONED?
We live in an environment where many Christians act as if the words, phrases and principles in the Bible are simply relics of an ancient culture, rather than a representation of the heart of God. This is why they see no problem with women spending their time, energy and efforts doing things that have nothing to do with their biblically-defined design and roles.
BIBLICAL LIMITATIONS ARE LIBERATIONS
Scripture does indeed place distinctive limitations on the design and roles of men and women. But when God is doing the limiting, it is always a limitation that sets us free to be what we were created to be. It is God Himself who has defined and limited the design and roles of women for His own glory, that we “… may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:7).
PREPARING FOR GOD-ORDAINED DESIGN AND ROLES
God has designed rich and fulfilling roles for women, and it would dishonor Him and harm us to mix the ways of the world with His ways. We must honor the Lord by loving His ways, cleaving to His ways, learning from Him and being satisfied in Him, even though the voices of the world are always screaming for a different way. The ways of wisdom “… are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her” (Proverbs 3:17-18).
CONSIDER THE CHOICES
If we accept scripture alone, we will have a perfect picture to use as our pattern, but if we mix the principles of popular culture with our own wisdom, we are guaranteed to facilitate a feministic and humanistic womanhood. God’s design for women is far more superior and more brilliant than anything the world has to offer, and women after His own heart are far more valuable and precious, affecting culture with salt and light!
FIVE SECRETS TO BECOMING A WOMAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART
1. An image bearer
To be made in the image of God is to possess valuable attributes which are divinely given. As image bearers, women are gifted with qualities that reflect God Himself. We have the capacity to know Him and to be known by Him. It matters greatly what we believe about the nature of a woman. In non-Christian philosophies and religions of the world, women are degraded and devalued, but in striking contrast, Christianity places women in high honor. One way that God honors women is by surrounding them with protectors (fathers or husbands) who are under specific commands to know, protect and nurture them. Every daughter of Zion should marvel that she is made in the image of God! This knowledge should cause joy and confidence to fill our souls, for we have received our dignity and value from a Divine source! We were knit together in our mother’s wombs by the wisdom and knowledge of God. We therefore lack nothing! Since we bear the marks and attributes of His image, it is our duty to live according to His design. We are “… a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people …” (1Peter 2:9).
2. A woman, not a man
As a woman, our gender is one of the beautiful expressions of the wisdom of God. It is His glory to array creation with diversity of form and function. He has crafted us with distinguishing qualities of physical and emotional attributes, which exert a remarkable beauty and power in the world. Genesis 2:21-23 shows the origin of woman, the sequence of the creation of man and woman, and the distinction between man and woman. 1 Timothy 2:13 says, “… Adam was formed first, then Eve.” This sequence and order of authority is proclaimed as the basis for the distinctive roles of men and women, for “… the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man …” (1 Corinthians 11:3). To change this order is to go against God’s design! Feminism insists that men and women should be free to look the same, act the same, dress the same and pursue all the same things. It is sinful to blur the differences between men and women. Deuteronomy 22:5 warns against redrawing the lines of masculinity and femininity: “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.” If we embrace this distorted vision of womanhood, we will be robbed of our distinctive beauty in creation, but if we think, act and dress in a feminine way, we will be declaring the glory of God and we will taste the happiness of having an inner confidence no one can take away.
3. A disciple of Christ
Everywhere around us there are voices calling out to make us disciples of the world. These voices come in the form of ungodly music, movies, books and friends. If we allow satan to lure us to embrace everything that seems pleasing to our senses, they will make us into their images, for we are made into the image of whatever we meditate on. This discipleship will come to “… steal, and to kill, and to destroy …” (John 10:10) the beauty God has in store for us. He commands us to “… not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). As women of God, we have been created to daily nourish our hearts, souls and minds with His word, drawing from Him all that we need to live fruitful and abundant lives. Blessings will be ours when we “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom …” (Colossians 3:16). As women of God, we have been created to daily commune with Him in prayer, thereby deepening our relationship with Him and growing spiritually in a multitude of ways. Blessings will be ours when we are “… praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit …” (Ephesians 6:18). As women of God, we have been created to hear and obey all His commands, fulfill all His desires and do all His will. He delights in a heart that is soft, gentle, pliable, and responsive to Him and to His ways, which leads to a life of obedience. Blessings will be ours when we “… heed the voice of the words of the Lord” (1Samuel 15:1). These treasures are more valuable than gold! We will find our greatest happiness when we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, for we will be “… like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).
4. A member of the church
It is the design of God to plant His daughters in the fellowship of the church, the body of Christ. In the church, He makes every daughter His bride, incorporating her as a member of His body and placing her as a living stone in His building. It is here that we can be loved and protected, nurtured and strengthened, but the devil lurks to meet us in the church, to rob us of these blessings. He works to disconnect us from the household of faith by keeping us very busy, by making us view the church as a low priority, by causing conflict between ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters. While the enemy wants to separate us from our church family, God desires to enfold us in His people. There are enormous blessings for those who say, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1), there are wonderful comforts for those who declare, “…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord …” (Psalm 27:4), and there is beautiful peace for all who conclude that, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand” (Psalm 84:10). Our time is well-spent when we offer ourselves in service to the body of Christ, for the edifying of its people.
5. A life of beauty
There is no neglect of beauty in Christianity, for God would have His daughters be beautiful. There is no commendation in scripture for an unkept, frumpy or dowdy appearance. In 1 Peter 3:3-4, Peter presented a vision for not only outward beauty, but for inner beauty as well, when he said, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward … rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Instead of being dressed with appearance that fades away, He calls us to nurture that which is eternal and precious. In this way, we are to pursue a beauty that is both inward and outward, and it must be a modest beauty that does not flaunt either fashion, riches or sexuality. This is a beauty which adorns itself “… in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, … which is proper for women professing godliness …” (1 Timothy 2: 9-10). To dress modestly stands in sharp contrast to the boldness and showiness that is encouraged in today’s culture. Our dress must not say ‘sex’ or ‘pride’ or ‘money’, but rather ‘purity’, ‘humility’ and ‘moderation’. How blessed it is to have a beauty that is both inward and outward, and which shines brightly for all eternity! In this way we can walk in confidence, because we know the lie of fading beauty and the truth that we are God’s beautiful daughters!
BRIDE OF CHRIST
God began a good work in us and He promises to complete that good work – He saved us from sin and death, He restored fellowship with us, He leads us in the path of righteousness, He promises us a future and a hope, He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings and He has prepared a place for us in heaven. Our blessed Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ, seeks a bride who loves and fears His name. Are we preparing ourselves to be faithful, loyal, covenant-keeping brides? Are we being adorned with righteousness, holiness, purity, virtue, integrity, obedience and wisdom? May our Husband, our Lord Jesus Christ, say of us, “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all” (Proverbs 31:29)! Let us become women after God’s own heart!
Guest post by Catherine Manson-Bishop
Image copyright to Stephany Durksen
I was born in South Africa and I give God all the thanks and praise for the wonderful blessing of having being raised in a Christian home with godly, faithful parents who trained me up in the Lord’s ways.
God has given me a deep love for children and I feel very blessed to be walking in my calling as a schoolteacher. I look forward to the day when I can have a family to call my own!