Lesson 28 is titled Sound Thinking which can only come as a result of having sound doctrine, which will in turn result in sound living.
Sophron means sensible, self-controlled, sound mind.
She lists a whole bunch of qualities of a woman who is not sophron. Such a woman is impulsive, lacks discretion, follows worldly philosophies, is driven by her flesh, lacks follow-through, is self-centered, is discontented, has emotions controlled by circumstances, seeks escapism from problems , is easily provoked, falls apart in a crisis, easily loses hope, says whatever she thinks without thinking first, is highly opinionated, speaks roughly with profane or crass talk, is overly concerned about what other people think, has unpredictable behavior, is morally careless, procrastinates, is given to extremes, is a pleasure seeker, is easily distracted, yields easily to temptation,struggles to develop consistent life disciplines, enjoys mindless entertainment, looks for the easy way out, thinks about the short-term rather than the long-term, is demanding, fritters away time, makes decisions based on what is easiest.
I don't know about you but I know I would qualify for several of those bad qualities (thankfully not all of them!), at least some of the time.
She then lists qualities of a woman who is sophron. Such a woman is restrained in: her thoughts, her tongue, her eating, her spending, her reactions, she is calm under pressure, is purposeful in the use of her time, is a good steward, is morally chaste, has a well-ordered life, show good judgment, doesn't "lose it" under pressure, responds in faith versus fear, guards her heart and mind, evaluates what she reads or hears in light of Scripture, is mentally disciplined, resists temptation, shows delayed gratification, demonstrates others-centered living, is diligent and faithful in her responsibilities, is intentional, is modest in dress and behavior, hopes in God, gives thanks in all things, makes wise, biblical decisions, prays, demonstrates the Spirit controlling her flesh.
I was very thankful to realize that several of these good qualities also describe me, at least some of the time.
Two things are key to realize here I think.
First is the last quality she mentions - demonstrating the Spirit controlling her flesh. That is key. Giving up our control to the Spirit's control. Saying "not my will done, but Your will be done". Admitting we can't change ourselves. Admitting we need God. Giving Him control of every area of our lives.
The second is to admit that this is a process. In this life on this earth we will never demonstrate those good qualities all the time. But that doesn't mean we stop striving to live a pure life. We "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil 3:14
This idea transitions nicely into Lesson 29 which is The Beauty of Holiness.
Christian purity stands in stark contrast to what is characteristic or generally true of the unbelieving world....It shouldn't be difficult for people to know whether someone is really a Christian. The unbelieving world is characterized by impurity, and believers of Christ are supposed to be pure.I want this to be true of me and my life!
The 19th century true woman was characterized by four cardinal virtues - piety, having a heart for God; purity, having a pure heart; submissiveness to God-ordained authority, and being domestic or having a heart for home. I think it's so sad that not only are these virtues no longer common - they are scoffed at and viewed as old-fashioned, extremist and sexist - sometimes even among Christian circles. It would be so amazing if these values were restored among all Christian women!
I appreciated her definition of the difference between positional purity and practical purity.
positional purity [is] what took place in our lives at the moment that we were born again. We were regenerated. We were declared righteous and pure positionally by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ—justification.Being pure requires continues, unrelenting vigilance. King David - a man after God's own heart, grew careless and fell into huge sin (adultery and murder!). We need to be on constant guard, we can't let evil get it's foot into the door of our lives. We can't think we're above that. We can't think we have arrived. It is constant. And yes, God's grace is big enough to cover the biggest sins - no doubt about that. But if we give in to sin, and let it begin to control us again, if we harden our hearts in order to do what we know to be wrong, it will be that much harder to come to the point of repentance again.
That's our initial salvation. God sees us not as we were but now as being in Christ. We have been saved, and that positional purity is true of every believer.practical purity... is what theologians more often call sanctification. This doesn't just happen once for all. It's a lifetime process of becoming practically pure, of living out that which God has already declared positionally to be true of us. This is the part—the practical purity—is the part that requires training. Older women train younger women to be pure.
You can't train someone to become a Christian. That happens by the grace of God, through faith. It's a work that God does in our hearts, drawing us to Himself, and He saves us, not by works that we have done, works of righteousness.
You can't make someone else a Christian. God's Spirit does that within us. He declares us to be just and righteous before Him because of Jesus Christ, but older women can disciple younger women. We can disciple one another in the process of becoming personally pure, practically pure, being sanctified.
Our lives should not make ungodly people feel condemned. We need to show them the compassion and the mercy that God showed us, and that He shows them. But they should feel that we are uncomfortable with impurity. That we don't celebrate or glorify impurity.
I love the quote she ends off with.
So as you choose to say yes to the purity of Christ and no to all that is impure and say, “I want to walk within my house with integrity of heart and purity of hands and life,” you're not doing it to be self-righteous. You're not doing it to look good.
We're doing it to create wonder and awe in a dark world as they see the light of Christ turned on, and we're doing it out of love and devotion and passion for Christ, whose bride we are, so that we may be presented to Him without fault, without blemish, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, in fine linen bright and pure.
Lesson 30 is A Lasting Kindness. I think this is an excellent summary of the whole series - everything boils down to your heart. If you focus on having a pure heart, a heart that longs for Jesus and that longs to reflect Him to the world around us - everything will flow from that, then everything will fall into place.
Here's a good definition of the twin qualities kindness and goodness. “Kindness is the inner disposition created by the Holy Spirit that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Goodness is kindness in action, words, and deeds.”
It’s the call to proactively look for opportunities to be a blessing to others, to show the kindness of God to others, to take initiative. We need to proactively show kindness first to our families (how often don't they get the short end of the kindness stick!), to the family of God, to the poor and needy in body and soul, and our enemies. This is obviously only possible with the grace and strength of God. "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" Phil 4:13
Kindness of heart will help lift the load. It won’t necessarily make all those tasks glamorous, but it will make them an act of worship, an act of real love.