Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Qualities of a Godly Woman, Part 2: Being a Life-Giver

In their book, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt describe a godly woman as a one who is a “life-giver” and not a “life-taker”.

Being a “life-giver” in today’s culture poses many challenges to the woman seeking to live biblically. Western culture has so distorted womanhood, and personhood for that matter, to the point of thinking that the world revolves around one thing—me. If I’m sick of my husband—divorce. If my baby is an imposition—abortion. If I don’t like my hands—plastic surgery. Relativism has created a society that views the self as autonomous and authoritative in all matters, therefore, what I say goes and no one can question me. We live in a world of life-taking, when the Bible commands a world of life-giving.

As women who desire to seek Christ and know the Word, how do we know what it means to be a life-giver? In our quest to unpack godly womanhood, let’s look at a true life-giver depicted for us in the Word of God—her name is Ruth.

Consider Ruth, a Moabite woman who married an Israelite. In Ruth 1 we see the first glimpses of her life-giving in response to her mother-in-law, Naomi. Upon the death of Naomi’s husband and sons (Ruth’s husband) she embarks to return to her people the Israelites. Ruth and Orpah (the other Moabite woman and daughter-in-law) are faced with a decision, follow Naomi with no real hope of remarriage or comfort, or stay in Moab, where remarriage is likely and comfort is a given. Orpah stays in her homeland, while Ruth resolves to go with Naomi. Notice Ruth’s life-giving response to Naomi:

“For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD to do to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you” (Ruth 1:16-17).

What makes a relatively young woman leave her homeland, leave her family, leave her friends, leave the hope of marriage behind? Hope in God. John Piper, in talking about submission, says that a truly godly woman can submit because she hopes in God. Biblical womanhood, and godliness in general, is a life of sacrifice. It requires a daily dying to self and a daily hope in God.

If you follow the rest of the book you will see that not only did Ruth go with Naomi, but she also provided for Naomi. Chapter two tells us that Ruth went and gleaned grain in the fields in order to provide food for Naomi and herself. In a day where young people live only for themselves, where changing diapers and bearing children is seen as subhuman, and where our elderly people are dying lonely deaths in nursing homes, Ruth is a beacon of light to a depraved culture of self-worship. Putting our hope in fleeting things, such as fame, prestige, careers, and power will only amount to death. But putting our hope in God, the giver of life, will sustain us and enable us to give our own lives for the sake of others—even our ailing parents, elderly grandparents and church members, and the little children. In order to be godly women we must renounce any semblance of life-taking in our lives, and seek to be life-givers.

As we seek to live in the Spirit of Ruth, let’s follow first the footsteps of our Christ, who was the supreme of all life-givers.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

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