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Proverbs 31:29-30Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

A brief look at history shows us that women have often been mistreated, mistrusted and sometimes totally neglected. Different cultures and religions tell the same story. The reason for this has to be in the fact that both men and women have rejected God and His design for His creation. (Genesis 3:16)

Jesus came and He treated women beautifully, to the amazement of His disciples (John 4:24) and to the annoyance of the religious leaders. (Luke 7:39) Some church leaders have since misinterpreted the Bible, especially Paul's writings concerning women. They have taught that women are inferior to men. Jesus did not teach that. He only spoke what the Father said and the word of God does not say that.

Why fight for equality when God has already given it to us? (Galatians 3:26-29) The answer to liberation is found in Jesus. He came to set both men and women free. As women, we have to learn to find our freedom in serving Christ. We can find joy in obeying Him and fulfilling the role that He has chosen for us. The fulfilment of that role carries with it a responsibility: both to find our rightful position in the body of Christ (the Church) and to live by it, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The work of the Holy Spirit

God makes provision for satisfying relationships through the filling (control) of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

When we're continually being "filled with the Spirit" and genuinely worshipping God, we submit to one another. (Ephesians 5:21) Conflicts arise when people want their own way and fight for the top position. Spirit-filled believers fight for the bottom! (James 4:1; 1 Corinthians 16:16; Philippians 2:4-8; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 1 Peter 5:5; Hebrews 13:17)

"Submission" in military terms means to “rank beneath or under”. Having a rank structure is a means of avoiding disputes, contentions and divisions. In Christian terms, it means going one step further and developing the attitude of wanting to serve each other. (Ephesians 5:21-6:9) Paul's emphasis is on "mutual submission" and he uses the family as an illustration of the whole basis of "submission" in God's creation.

A wife is to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 7:3-4) and a husband is to submit to his wife. (Ephesians 5:25) In doing so, the husband does not give up his responsibility of leadership but supports her in bearing her burdens, sacrificing his own desires to fulfil her needs. (1 Corinthians 7:3) Paul also emphasises the place of love within a family. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25) Children are to submit in obedience to their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3) and parents are to submit to their children by not provoking them to anger, but “bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”. (Ephesians 6:4)

Paul then extends his argument to the workplace as well. Servants (employees) should submit to their masters (bosses) (Ephesians 6:5-9) but masters should also submit to their servants by never doing wrong to them. (Ephesians 6:9)

Comparisons between authority and mutual submission

  1. All believers are equal in the sight of God. (Galatians 3:28) This does not exclude the idea of authority.
  2. Within the Godhead, Jesus is, in essence, equal with the Father (John 1:1; John 10:30; John 14:9) but, in function, the Father is the head. (1 Corinthians 11:3; John 4:34)
  3. Before God, husbands and wives are equal in spiritual quality and, in essence, they are equal. In function, the man has the responsibility of leadership in marriage, taking the brunt of difficult circumstances. The wife’s tenderness and gentleness are to support and balance the husband’s strength.

Like true love, real submission is impossible in our own strength. (Matthew 19:26) It is God who enables us to submit, according to His design. As we have seen, knowing who He is and responding to His love, we should all submit to God and become servants. (James 4:6-10)

What is godly submission?

Submission is to offer humble and intelligent obedience to an ordained power or authority. (Hebrews 13:17)

  • It is a basic, biblical principle, not just something for wives! (Ephesians 5:24)
  • It is part of God's order, so it is a place of honour. (1 Timothy 2:11)
  • It involves surrendering our will to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

Submission to a husband, boss or friend, does not mean being treated like a doormat, or being bossed about with no notice being taken of our opinion. No! Quite the opposite! As women we have to give everything, including our opinions, gifts, talents, intellect and strengths; then we are submitting according to God's standard, and taking an active role in all relationships.

Competitive natures

Many women do noble things, but the "Joyful Woman" is described as "surpassing them all". (Proverbs 31:29) We have to see ourselves in this position as God sees us. This can put us in competition mode, wondering which woman is the best. We have to develop the attitudes and characteristics that God wants us to establish, so that we can be the women God has planned for us to be, with all our different gifts and talents. We are unique, unlike anyone else. We do not have to excel in anyone else's eyes - only God's. When we honour God, we will not be caught up in jealousy, competition and bitterness. All through Proverbs 31:10-31, God tells us how we can be different from other women, so we do not need to compete any longer.

It is very frustrating going around trying to be someone else! It is also a sign of being weak or dominated by our feelings, or just not thinking about ourselves in the way that God does. As we begin to see ourselves as powerful women, grasping a vision of who we are in Christ and what gifts and talents God has given us, we will begin to feel fulfilled in our lives. (John 10:10) More than that, our recognition of who we are in Jesus will begin to show itself in our changing attitudes to people and circumstances.

Warning!

Beware of Jezebel. (1 Kings 16:30-33; 18:4; 19:2; 1 Kings 21:4-16; 1 Kings 21:25; 2 Kings 9:30-37) Jezebel became powerful because of her husband’s weakness. We must not manipulate or control a man’s insecurities for our own ends. Our responsibility is to pray not to pout!

Looking attractive

Proverbs 31:30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.”

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold, jewellery and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self: the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4)

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes; but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

There is a popular idea in the world that Christian women are frumpy! But God has promised to provide all our needs, so we should always be able to look our best, even on a small budget. We have the power of the Holy Spirit giving us wisdom, so we can be good shoppers and managers of money. We must also understand who we are dressing to please. First place must be for the Lord. We do not dress to seduce the opposite sex or to compete against other women. We need to examine our hearts and see who we dress to please and test our motives against the Bible verses.

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of My people but preserve your own?" (Ezekiel 13:18-23)

Good dress sense

The "Joyful Woman", who uses her resources intelligently, will stretch here and stretch there, making it all work together. If you personally do not know how to dress in the most effective way for your body and colouring, find someone who does and ask them to help you put your clothes and make-up together. Wise women will get assistance to use what they have. Just by adding a few bits, we can change the whole look of what we have. We should buy things that match what we already have.

We are meant to look our best, but this is not to be the main focus of our lives. Dressing, make-up and doing our hair do not have to take a lot of time. If they take more than the time we are spending in prayer and worship, we are giving them too high a priority. Think of ways to shorten your "getting-ready" time, then take that extra time and worship God.

Growing old

God tells us not to fear anything, even old age.

  • "Do not forget my teachings but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity." (Proverbs 3:1-2)
  • "With long life will I satisfy you and show you my salvation." (Psalm 91:16)
  • "Even to your old age and grey hair I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4)
  • "You will come to the grave in full vigour, like sheaves gathered in season." (Job 5:26)
  • "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." (1 Peter 3:10)

"Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God." (Titus 2:3-5)


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