Lesson 10 is called The Fruit of Her Hands and finishes off Proverbs 31.
Nancy points out that with this passage (as with any other Bible passage) we can choose to reject the message, we can try and do it on our own strength (and then fail), or we can acknowledge that, just like God's law, we cannot do it on our own strength and rely on God to live through us.
Rejecting the message isn't really an option for Christians. A Christian's belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is integral to our faith, and therefore makes rejecting the message a virtual impossibility. You cannot claim Christ and not the Word.
Trying to do it on our own, however, is a trap virtually everyone falls into. It is impossible to do everything the Proverbs 31 woman does, all the time, on our own. We simply can't do it. And if we try, we're going to crash and burn.
Proverbs 31 shows us that as Christian women, we need to live our lives dependant on the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Proverbs 31, we have a pattern for the kind of women that God created us to be. We’ve said over and over again through this series that it’s not all the domestic abilities and things that this woman can do that are what make her great. It’s the fact that she’s a woman who has a love for God and a love for people. We’re really seeing here a portrait of the Lord Jesus, and ultimately we are called to be like Him.Proverbs 31 is a pattern of what a godly woman looks like, it's a guide, it's where we're headed, it's a picture of the person God is conforming us to be - IF we allow Him to.
I found this to be an encouraging lesson, and an excellent reminder to be humble. To admit that we cannot do everything ourselves. This is a lesson I've learned in the past, but for some reason it's one I need to learn over and over again.
But there is an outcome of this way of life that makes it all worth while.
Proverbs 31:30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Living like the Proverbs 31 woman is a sacrificial way of living. But we reap what we sow. If we live selfishly we will receive the fruits of that, if we live sacrificial we will receive the fruits of that work and it will be worth it! How wonderful it will be to hear the words from our Saviour "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)
Lesson 11, titled Women in the Church, begins to discuss a passage in 1 Timothy.
In this book, Paul is giving instruction to Timothy who was a pastor of a church in Ephesus, on how men and women are to behave, what they ought to do, and what their attitude should be in church (and out of church).
1 Timothy 2:9-10
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. (NIV)
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. (NASB)
And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. (NLT)
I really like the NLT translation of these verses.
This is what jumps out at me - "women who profess to worship God", "women making a claim to godliness", "women who claim to be devoted to God". If we claim to worship God, claim to be devoted to Him - then our attitudes and our actions and our attire all need to reflect that. How we dress is a reflection of our hearts.
Who you are and what you are will come out in the way that you look, the way that you act, and the attitudes that you demonstrate toward other people.Lesson 12 is called Affirming our Faith and continues to focus on the same passage in Timothy.
I'm not a Christian because I dress and act like one. I dress and act like a Christian because I am one.
We said that it's so important that our appearance and our attitudes and our actions confirm and affirm our profession of faith.
Ladies, it’s not enough to claim to be a Christian. There are millions and millions of people in this country who claim to be Christians and whose names are on the role of some church membership, but they are no more Christians than the "man in the moon." They don't have a relationship with Christ and the evidence is in their appearance, in their attitudes, and in their actions.
Listen, your appearance and your actions and your attitudes will never make you a Christian. They cannot earn you salvation. You can't say, "I am a good Christian because I dress like a good Christian; I act like a good Christian, and I have good Christian attitudes." That won't make you a Christian. But if you are a Christian, you absolutely will have appearance, attitudes, and actions that confirm your profession of faith.
It's a challenge to every Christian woman out there - here is the standard for someone who claims Christ, how do you measure up?
This lesson was a great reminder that as Christian women we cannot be a stumbling block to any man, especially our Christian brothers. Yes, men are responsible for their actions (not lusting), but we are responsible for ours (dressing modestly). Our Christian brothers know they have to fight this battle in the world - they should not have to fight it in church. If the church can't be a safe haven - we have fallen too far indeed!