Christian women

Throwback Thursday ~ It’s OK To Be Ordinary

Originally published: January 16, 2013

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5

Love our husbands and children.

Be self-controlled, pure, and kind.

Work at home.

Be submissive to our own husbands.

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In other words: ordinary. 

I didn’t see anything in there about changing the world or living out great big enormous dreams, did you? I think, often, as 21st century Christian women, the evangelical/church culture can make us feel like we are failures if we don’t have some sort of huge ministry or preach the gospel on the street corner every day. In Titus’ day that sort of thing would have been unbecoming for women. In our culture, women have more opportunities to be involved in various ministries than back then, but we have to remember that God calls us to faithfully serve Him in whatever life circumstances He has put us in. And He has not called the vast majority of us to be ministry superstars or Christian celebrities.

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He has called most of us to be ordinary.

Staying home and pouring the gospel into our families or being a gospel influence to others at work or teaching Sunday school or sharing the gospel through volunteer work, etc., though it may be on a small scale in the world’s eyes, is success and faithfulness in God’s eyes. And that’s all that matters.

You’re not failing God if you’re ordinary.

What are some “ordinary” ways you enjoy
serving God and your neighbor?

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 11

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

Matthew 7:1-14

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 7:1-14 in light of those passages.

Make a list of the topics Jesus deals with in this passage. Is there an obvious common theme connecting all of them, or is this more like a laundry list of assorted topics? How does one section (1-5, 6, 7-11, 12, 13-14) connect to the next? How does each section fit under the umbrella of the common theme?

2. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in each section (1-5, 6, 7-11, 12, 13-14) of today’s passage?

How does “wide gate behavior” like hypocrisy and failing to treat others as you want them to treat you bland your saltiness? (5:13-16) How can “narrow gate behavior” like being good to others as God has been to you make you saltier and brighter?

3. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

Though they are not specifically mentioned in the Ten Commandments, which of the Ten Commandments could be connected to hypocritical judgment, God’s goodness and care for His children, treating others the way you want to be treated, and the way to destruction vs. the way to life?

Despite having dropped the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” framing of His teaching in chapter 6, how is Jesus still shifting the people’s focus from outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? How should pursuing a “narrow gate” heart and behavior be at the heart of our obedience to God’s laws?

4. Read verses 1-5. What does “Judge not,” mean? (Did you realize that in answering that question you are judging verse 1 to mean one thing and not another?) Does verse 1 mean we are never to make judgments of any sort, or, considering verse 1 in the context of verses 2-5, does it mean we are not to judge in a certain way? Compare 1-5 to these passages for clarity. List all the instances in 1-20 in which judgment is necessary, assumed, or instructed by Jesus. (Ex.: 6 – How do you determine whether someone is a dog/pig or not a dog/pig?) Is Jesus contradicting Himself or being hypocritical by saying “Don’t judge,” and then assuming we will make judgments or instructing us to make judgments? How do you know?

According to verses 1-2, what is the reason we are not to judge improperly or hypocritically? “That you be not judged” by whom? How does judging rightly, according to Scripture, and without hypocrisy reflect God’s attribute of perfect justice? How is judging others in a godly way one way of carrying out the “golden rule” (12)?

Think back to Jesus’ emphasis on hypocrisy in the first part of chapter 6 (lesson 9, link above) and compare it with His emphasis on hypocrisy in 3-5. Why is hypocrisy such a big deal to Jesus? Which attributes of God does hypocrisy contrast with?

5. Examine verses 7-11. What do these verses teach us about God’s goodness toward His children (Believers)? What do these verses teach us about prayer – the way we should ask and the way God answers?

Think about the analogy of God giving good things to His children the way earthly parents give good things to their children (11) as you answer the following questions: Does this passage teach us that God will give us whatever we want whenever we want it? Could discipline and suffering be good gifts from God? What did the son ask for in verses 9 & 10? Were these bad things or good things? Was he being selfish and greedy? Was he asking for luxuries or basic provision? How does the son asking the father for provision demonstrate trust in and dependence on his father?

Meditate on God’s goodness to you in all of these ways as we move into considering verse 12.

6. Summarize verse 12 in your own words. How do you want other people to treat you? Considering God’s goodness to you from the previous section, if you had a choice, wouldn’t you want other people to treat you with the same goodness with which God treats you? Does verse 12 preclude things like justly firing an employee, disciplining your children, or sitting on a jury and rendering a guilty verdict? Why or why not? Compare verse 12 with the second greatest commandment. How are they similar?

7. Christianity is both inclusive (ex: “whosoever will may come” – people from any walk of life, ethnicity, background, etc.) and exclusive. What do verses 13-14 teach us about the exclusivity of the gospel? Can you believe or behave any way you like and still be saved? According to this passage, are genuinely regenerated Christians the majority or the minority of the world’s population? How might this passage speak to the number of false converts (people who think they’re saved but have never been truly born again) in the church?


Homework

Many people think that making biblical judgments, such as…

  • saying a certain behavior is a sin
  • sharing the gospel with someone and calling her to repent for her sin
  • warning against false teachers
  • exercising church discipline
  • distancing oneself from professing Christians living in unrepentant sin

…is failing to “be like Jesus.” Make the argument -from rightly handled Scripture- that exercising biblical judgment is a) Christlike, and b) obedient to God’s commands.

Carefully examine verse 6. What does it mean for someone to be a pig or dog? Is it possible to argue someone into embracing biblical truth without God supernaturally opening her eyes to see it? How do you know a) when you’re dealing with a dog/pig, and b) when it’s time to gather up your pearls and get out of the pig pen? Pray that, this week, when an unbeliever is arguing against biblical truth – in real life or online – God will help you discern whether or not to engage that person in the first place, and, if you do engage, when is the appropriate time to apply Matthew 7:6.


Suggested Memory Verse

Sermons, Worship

Sermon: Biblical Worship

It’s not often you get to hear a great sermon out of Leviticus, so I wanted to share this one with you, preached by my friend Laramie Minga, Pastor of Worship and Discipleship at Woodlawn Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

If you’re a new Christian or maybe you’re just coming out of an unbiblical “church” and you’re not quite sure what biblical worship in a doctrinally sound church is supposed to look like, this sermon will help. And even if you are in a solid church with biblical worship, Laramie’s sermon will be an encouragement to you. The worship pastor at your own church might even enjoy giving it a listen.

The text for the sermon is Leviticus 10:1-11.

Here’s the visual for the elements of worship around the 37:34 mark:

I hope you’ll enjoy this great teaching from God’s Word as much as I did!

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Christian Women Working, Using Birth Control, and Limiting Family Size

Originally published July 15, 2019

I have a question [as] to what your convictions are about a woman working at all in the first place, in reference to your answer to the question “Is it ok for a woman to make more than her husband?

What also is your position on birth control or having a planned family size? You are very openly pro life, and amen to that, but it seems you also are supportive of a woman working outside of her home, and with that I can only generalize and forgive me if I am wrong, that you also support a woman limiting her family size because a mother of many children, which is usually the natural order of things when no contraceptives are used, would very difficultly work and also be able to look well to the ways of her household. Can you clear your position up for us wondering? Thank you Michelle! God bless you!

Thank you so much for your questions and kind remarks. These are important issues that women and their husbands need to prayerfully consider in order to arrive at a biblical conclusion for their family.

One thing it’s imperative to remember is that situations differ vastly from family to family. We can easily slip into a pattern of thinking that “every family is just like mine so every family ought to make the same decisions we’ve made,” and even to consider our family’s decisions as the biblical standard for every family. That’s not the case, and that’s not a biblical way of regarding others. It’s important to broaden our view to realize there are scads of family difficulties, logistics, and situations that we’ve never had to face before and that two families can make different decisions on these issues – due to the unique circumstances God has placed them in – and still both be in obedience to God.

The reason it’s possible for two families to make different decisions on these issues is because the Bible doesn’t give any clear cut commands that women should never “work at all in the first place,” or that family size should never be limited, or that no form of birth control should ever be used. We may have strong convictions about these things, but God does not specifically prohibit them in His Word, and that’s what we have to go by, not only when making decisions about our own families, but also when considering the decisions other families have made.

I took a closer look at what God’s Word says (and doesn’t say) about women working in my Mailbag article Stay at Home Dads? I would encourage you to read that article and look up the Scriptures I referenced, but, long story short, the Bible does not make an across the board prohibition that no woman may ever work to earn income. In fact, we see several examples of women in Scripture working, and God does not condemn these women for doing so. In some circumstances, it is perfectly biblical for women to work.

I think the confusion you may be experiencing stems from the fact that you’re assuming several “facts not in evidence” when it comes to women working outside the home. Your questions seem to be predicated on the idea that “working woman” necessarily means a married woman who has small children and who doesn’t want children to get in the way of her career. That may be the case for some women who work but it’s not the case for every woman. Not every woman is married. God has not blessed every woman with children. Some women have children who are grown and on their own. Some women are single mothers and have no choice but to work. Some women have disabled husbands who can’t work. Some women can work part time from home (or outside the home) and their jobs don’t interfere with raising their children and managing their households. Occasionally, when a couple marries, the wife is already well established in a lucrative career, while the husband hasn’t had the same educational/career opportunities, and regardless of how hard he works, and considering all other circumstances, the wife and husband agree that it just makes more financial sense for a particular season of their family’s life for her to work and for the husband to stay home with the kids. We cannot make a blanket statement that godly women in these circumstances, working outside the home (or from home), are necessarily violating Scripture. As I said, we need to be aware of the vast array of circumstances taking place in various families, and not judge those families by our own.

Your next question was about birth control and limiting family size. Again, we must look to Scripture to see what it says.

Since the Bible was written in a time before birth control pills and surgical sterilization were invented, naturally it does not address those specific types of birth control, or, really, any type of birth control. People have tried to make the case that a couple of passages address the issue of what we might call “natural family planning”:

The story of Onan describes Onan engaging in coitus interruptus (withdrawal) and God subsequently putting Him to death. This passage is sometimes offered as evidence that God is against even “natural” birth control. However, all you have to do is read the passage in context, and it’s clear that it wasn’t that particular sexual act itself that cost Onan his life, but his selfishness in refusing to obey what would later become the law of levirate marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:5 permits husbands and wives to engage in mutually agreed upon periods of abstinence which could be stretched like Silly Putty into a biblical endorsement of the rhythm method (natural family planning), but again, the context of the verse makes it clear that the abstinence mentioned in this verse is not for the purposes of birth control, it’s for the purposes of concentrated prayer, sort of a “fasting from sex” idea.

So birth control, even natural forms of it, is not really addressed in Scripture. It’s neither prohibited nor endorsed. And as a consequence, limiting the size of one’s family isn’t addressed either because that wasn’t normally, biologically-speaking, a realistic option.

The Bible does, however, speak to the issue of abortion. Abortion is the murder of an innocent human being, so all the biblical passages prohibiting murder also prohibit abortion. This includes any form of birth control that kills an already conceived baby.

Another biblical principle I think it’s important to take into consideration is that the Bible seems to assume that procreation is one of the main goals of both sex and marriage. While God created sex to be pleasurable, gratifying our desire for physical ecstasy is dessert, not the main course of sex, as our libidinous 21st century sexual ethic would have us believe. God created marriage as the boundary lines for sexual activity, and the foundation for creating families. The Bible knows nothing of a man and woman getting married and proactively deciding for fleshly or selfish reasons (career, travel, freedom, spending habits, etc.) not to have children. The Bible takes for granted that married couples who are physically able will form families by having children. That is His plan for propagating human life.

The Bible also views children as a blessing to families and views motherhood as an honor, a vocation worthy of respect and value. I’m very disturbed at the increasing attitude in our society, and even among some Christians, that children are an annoying inconvenience and a hindrance to women pursuing their own personal goals. I remember seeing a billboard ad for condoms a few years ago that featured a picture of a screaming toddler emblazoned with the caption, “You should have used X Brand condoms.” Recently I saw a TV commercial for an IUD that said something along the lines of, “It’s easier to make an appointment with your doctor to get this IUD than to deal with a thee year old.”

And just last night, I saw part of a sitcom in which a stay at home mom comes home from a night out with friends (all career women) and complains to her husband that ever since the kids were born she’s been stuck at home, that her friends are doing exciting things and all she’s doing is raising kids, that she needs to get out of the house and do something. So she decides to get a job. As if being a mother is an unexciting burden and she’s not really doing anything worthwhile.

Children are a precious gift of God and deserve to be treated with love and dignity, to feel like they’re wanted and valued by the person they love most in the world – Mom.

So taking all of these things into consideration, where does that leave us when it comes to making godly decisions about these three issues of women working, birth control, and limiting the size of one’s family?

Here are some biblical conclusions we can draw:

•Christians should not have abortions or use any type of abortifacient birth control. Barrier methods, true contraceptives (birth control that prevents conception), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation/vasectomy), and natural family planning are not sinful in and of themselves, but we need to prayerfully consider whether or not we have sinful or selfish reasons for wanting to use them.

•As with any decision, Christians should examine their motives for wanting to use birth control, limit their family size, and for wanting Mom to work outside the home. Are these motives sinful, fleshly, selfish, based on a lack of trust in God? If so, that’s the root issue that needs to be dealt with, because Christians should have biblical and godly motives for their decisions, not sinful ones. Godly decisions spring from godly motives.

•Generally speaking, in families with children at home, God’s pattern is for Mom to stay home, manage the household and raise the children, and for Dad to support the family financially. For many couples today, that will necessitate limiting the size of their family at least to a degree. The Duggars might be able to support 20 children on Jim Bob’s salary alone, but that is not the case for most families. Most couples will, at some point, have to make a decision as to whether or not they are physically and financially able to care for additional children, or if having additional children will force Mom to get a job, leaving a day care or someone else to raise the children.

•Because God’s general pattern for families is for Mom to stay home and Dad to work, husbands and wives should try to follow this pattern if at all possible. Explore all possibilities of reducing expenses, bringing in extra income, and keeping Mom at home:

  • Cut your expenses- Move to a cheaper area or into cheaper, possibly smaller, housing. Get a cheaper vehicle. Cut extraneous expenses like cable, going out to eat, recreational shopping, buying name brands, mani-pedis, gym memberships, organizations that require dues, lawn and housekeeping services, etc.
  • Think outside the box when it comes to employment. Bringing in income doesn’t have to mean working outside the home 9 to 5 as someone else’s employee. What about working online or starting your own business? Creating/crafting things and selling them online? Taking in laundry, ironing, or sewing? Babysitting? Homeschooling other people’s children? Working a late night or early morning shift while the kids are sleeping?
  • I highly recommend the late Larry Burkett’s book Women Leaving the Workplace: How to Make the Transition from Work to Home. It came out in 1995, before the internet was really a thing, so it doesn’t have much information on working online, websites you can go to, etc., but most of the practical advice he gives is timeless, and it’s easy to think of online alternatives to some of the “analog” things he mentions.

•Christian wives need to remember to obey Scripture’s instruction to submit to their husbands. If your husband does not want you to work outside the home or has made another decision (that does not violate clear Scripture) about one of these three issues, you are to lovingly and graciously submit to that decision. Remember, there isn’t an explicit biblical command (outside of the prohibition of abortifacients) one way or the other about any of these three issues, but there is an explicit command that you’re to submit to your husband.

•Pray. Making wise and godly decisions about things that aren’t prohibited or endorsed by Scripture can be tough, but this is one of the ways God grows us in dependence on Him. Ask Him for guidance and wisdom. He delights to answer such prayers.

•Get counsel. Set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling or contact a biblical counselor. It can be very helpful to get objective biblical advice when you’re working through these issues.

In some seasons of life and family circumstances it can be perfectly biblical for a woman to work, as long as her home and family remain her first priority and do not suffer because of her working. Abortifacients should never be used by Christians, and Christians should carefully and prayerfully consider whether or not they have godly motives for wanting to limit their family size or use non-abortifacient types of birth control. Christian couples need to make certain they aren’t violating any explicit commands of Scripture, seek to align themselves with biblical principles, and prayerfully make the wisest and most godly decisions for their families that they can about each of these issues.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Podcast Appearances

No Trash, Just Truth Podcast Guest Appearance

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Rose Spiller and Christine Paxon of Proverbs 9:10 Ministries on their delightfully named No Trash, Just Truth podcast – “taking out the trash of false teaching and replacing it with biblical truth”.

Listen in (or watch and listen above) as we chat about the Old Testament, Andy Stanley, Bible study, evangelism, a balanced view of the role of women, and more!

Check out the Proverbs 9:10 website, and find all their social media links so you can give them a follow. Also, be sure to subscribe to the Proverbs 9:10 YouTube channel so you’ll never miss an episode of No Trash, Just Truth, or add it to your queue on your favorite podcast platform.

Articles / resources mentioned or touched on in the episode:

A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

Searhing for a new church? (always in the blue menu bar at the top of the blog)

Andy Stanley

6 Reasons You Need to Stay Hitched to the Old Testament

Ezekiel Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

Sisters Are Part of the Family of God, Too!


Got a podcast of your own or have a podcasting friend who needs a guest? Need a speaker for a women’s conference or church event? Click the “Speaking Engagements” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page, drop me an e-mail, and let’s chat!