Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 10 Page 7 October 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles
Priscilla's Page

Christian Woman: 
Where Is She Today? 
What Is Her Role In The Church?

By Bonnie Rushmore

My lesson today will be three-fold.  First, we will discuss godly women.  Second, we will review some restrictions God has placed on women.  Third, we will consider what Christian women can and should be doing in the kingdom of God.  Our emphasis today will be on fulfilling our responsibilities in the church.

Our overall theme for today has been Christian Woman – Where Is She Today?  It was once said the only difference between men and boys is the size of their shoes and the price of their toys.  It has also been said that the only difference between the sins of years ago and the sins of today is the tools used to commit those sins.  Both of these sayings imply the same thing. People do not change from one time period to another.  I would suggest that a godly woman has not changed from the beginning of time until now.  With this thought in mind, let me show you from Bible characters what a godly woman should be.

First, godly women need the faith of Sarah.  I picture this scenario in my mind.  Abraham comes home one day and says, “Sarah, God told me we are to leave all this behind and travel to a new land.” Sarah asks, “Where are we going?” To which Abraham replies, “I do not know.” “When will be get there?” asks Sarah. “God did not tell me,” is the reply.  Still Sarah willingly left family and friends behind to travel, as a nomad with no place to call her own the rest of her life.  That takes great faith. Hebrews 11:11 talks of the great faith of Sarah as she conceived when past the age of childbearing.

We need to have the devotion of Ruth.  She was devoted to her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Naomi and her family moved to Moab because of a famine in their homeland.  While living there Naomi’s two sons married.  Sometime later Naomi’s husband and both sons died.  Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem and her own people.  She encouraged both her daughters-in-law to return to their parents’ houses.  Ruth refused and traveled to Bethlehem with Naomi.  She helped to provide for Naomi and readily accepted advice from her.  Christ came through the lineage of Ruth (Mathew 1:1-17).

We need the courage of Esther.  Esther was married to Ahasuerus.  A law was passed that her people, the Jews, were to be destroyed. Esther went before the King to plead for them even though she had not been called.  If an individual was not summoned by the king and went to him, the king could have the individual killed. Esther saw the salvation of the Jewish people as greater than safeguarding her own life.

We need the good works of Dorcas.  Dorcas saw a need.  She had the ability to fulfill those needs and did the task at hand.  When she died, the widows wept at her passing and showed Peter the coats she made (Acts 10:39).

We need the desire to learn that Mary had.  She chose the better part (Luke 10:35-42). She willingly listened to Christ when she could have done a good work of helping to provide food for her guests as her sister Martha had done. Many times we fail in this regard.  We become more concerned with the here and now instead of eternity.

We need the benevolence and hospitality of Lydia.  Lydia was a believer of God.  Paul found her at the river worshipping God the only way she knew.  Paul instructed her and her companions about Christ and salvation.  Lydia readily accepted this teaching and obeyed the Gospel.  However, she did not stop there.  She put her newfound faith into practice by constraining Paul and his companions to abide with her while in Phillipi (Acts 16:14-16).

As godly women, we need the urgency to teach as Eunice & Lois taught Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).  Here we find a mother and grandmother who saw the great need of teaching (not just with words, but by example as well).  Timothy grew to be a great servant of God and a helper to the apostle Paul.  The Greek word for child in 2 Timothy 3:15 can mean from infancy to a young child.  These godly women saw the necessity of teaching Timothy from an early age.  We need this urgency to teach not just our children or grandchildren but all young children.  This can be accomplished through home study and Bible classes at the church building.

Lastly, as godly women we need to be helpmeets like Priscilla. Did you know that there is not one mention of Priscilla without Aquilla or Aquilla without Priscilla in the Bible?  Priscilla and Aquilla worked together (making tents), they worshipped together and they served God together (Romans 16:3-4).  Priscilla assisted her husband Aquilla in teaching Apollos the way of the Lord more perfectly (Acts 18:24-28).

These few examples show us some of the characteristics of godly women.  Many more examples could be drawn from God’s Word. God has from the beginning of time used women in his service.  God expects us to serve him.  However, there are some restrictions God has placed on women.  To be godly women, pleasing in his sight, we must accept these restrictions.  What surprises me is that we accept restrictions in all aspects of our lives until we enter the realm of religion, then we refuse to accept these restrictions.

God designed the role (responsibility) of woman at creation.  Adam was first formed then Eve. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13-14). The leadership roles were further defined by God when he stated “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16).  Man is to rule over the woman.  Woman is to be submissive to the man.  This does not mean that men and women are not equal.  Men and women are equal in salvation (Galatians 3:28).  Nor does being submissive mean women are inferior or weak.  All individuals are subject to the authority of another. Those of us who work in the business world have someone with authority over us.  We accept this.  We understand that someone has to have the final say and authority.  Even those who are self-employed, to some extent, answer to the authority of their customers.  (If they do not please the customer they do not have a business.)  Why then, do we refuse to accept that someone has final say and authority over us in religion?

Ephesians 5:22-6:5 discusses relationships and levels of authority.

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; . . . Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.”
Wives are to be in subjection to their husbands.  This is the same as the church being in subjection to Christ.  To have the proper relationship, husbands must love their wives, just as Christ loves the church.  Children are to be in subjection to their parents.  Parents, fathers in particular, are commanded to treat their children fairly and lovingly teach them the ways of God.  Employees are to work for their employers as if they were working for Christ.

1 Timothy 2:8-15 discusses the woman.

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
This passage is placed in the context of public worship and notes the roles and responsibilities of individual categories of people (men and women). In this passage God commanded men to lead the prayer in worship.  No man can give a woman the permission to lead a prayer in the presence of men.  Women are commanded not to usurp authority of men.  When a woman leads a prayer in the presence of men she takes control away from the man and gives it to herself.

Further, a comparison is made between men praying and serving God and how a godly woman acts.  A godly woman is known by the way she dresses.  She is more concerned with the spiritual dress then the physical dress.  Remember the women we discussed earlier.  Each of these women had at least one characteristic that we would want in our lives.  When we diligently try to apply all of these characteristics to our lives, we will have the best spiritual dress available.

For the next few moments I would like to suggest some ways in which Christian women can and must work for the Lord.  The suggestions I have can be divided into several categories.

Women can teach in a large number of settings.  We teach by example, we teach when we sing songs of praise (Colossians 3:15), we can teach Bible classes to children, we can teach ladies-only Bible classes and we can teach in private settings. As long as women recognize the restrictions God has placed on them, our options are many and limited only by our abilities.

The first and foremost work of a Christian woman, who has a family, is to rear and ground her children in the Word of God.  We can do all kinds of wonderful works, but if we fail to teach our children we have failed.  Those who are grandmothers need to realize the importance and influence they can have on teaching the grandchildren.  Remember Lois taught Timothy.  Many times it is the grandparents who are responsible for the teaching the grandchildren receive.  Aunts and cousins can also assist in this area of teaching.  With immorality all around us, our children need all the encouragement we can give.  Young people need to have opportunities for associating with other Christians.  Assist the parents in the realm of entertaining the young people of the congregation by opening your home for an evening of fun and fellowship.

We can teach a ladies Bible class.  Women tend to lean more toward the emotional aspect of a lesson, while men tend to appreciate the intellectual side of the message.  As teachers and students, we need to encourage both the emotion and the intellect of a lesson.  Ladies-only classes can discuss topics that would be awkward for a man to teach.  Also, remember the older ladies are to teach the younger ladies (Titus 2:4).

A good Bible class teacher will help a young student remember basic Bible stories and principles long after they are grown.  Never underestimate the good work of teaching children’s Bible classes, whether it be Wednesday evening, Sunday morning or Vacation Bible School. There is much preparation in preparing materials for teachers to use.  Possibly your talent is in organizing and maintaining a resource room for teachers.  Many teachers would love to have a room available to easily find the appropriate picture or handout for a lesson.

Home Bible studies, whether in your home or someone else’s, are an effective tool for teaching non-Christians and for encouraging new converts.  If you feel that you cannot teach, ask someone else to do the teaching.  For those who feel they cannot teach in a live setting, grading and mailing Bible correspondence courses is a good alternative.  If a question is asked, you have time to study and prepare an answer.

Easily understood biblically sound Bible class material is of great importance and is needed today.  I would encourage anyone who has the ability and the interest to write to expand their talents into this area.  Women can write Bible-based articles for Gospel magazines and bulletins.  If you feel that you do not have the ability to write, you could offer your services as a researcher, typist or proofreader for those who write.

Bulletin boards are a wonderful teaching tool.  A picture with a few words can say a lot without putting someone on the spot.  With today’s technology, even those who are not artistic can prepare nice, thought-provoking bulletin boards. With a color printer and the abundance of clipart available you can find a colorful picture for almost anything.  Gather ideas from other congregations that you visit, bulletins or religious magazines, books of bulletin boards, or simply illustrate a Bible verse.  If you feel you cannot do the actual bulletin board, come up with the ideas for a creative friend to finalize and help put it up.

If you have a computer and a color printer, offer to make transparencies for the preacher or Bible class teachers.  For those individuals who use this means of teaching, it will save them a lot of time and would be greatly appreciated.

Do you like to be around people?  Possibly your talents are well suited for visiting the hospital, nursing home or shut-ins.  New converts, young mothers and weak members could use a friendly face and an encouraging word.  If you feel that you would not know what to say, offer to provide the transportation and accompany someone else.

For those who have clerical skills, offer your services as church secretary.  Type the bulletin, answer correspondence and keep important papers filed, etc.

Women can organize and maintain a pantry of food and clothing for those in need.  Also, we can help to distribute the items.

Women can help maintain the meetinghouse, keep the church building clean, and decorate inside and outside with flowers and appropriate decorations.  We can volunteer to wash and keep the baptismal garments in good repair, assist women who are baptized, and prepare communion and keep the communion trays clean.

Get to know the members of your congregation.  We do not really know our brothers and sisters in Christ when we only see them at the church building.  To find out what people are really like, invite them to your home.  Cook an elaborate meal, have sandwiches or just a drink and dessert--whatever is comfortable for you and your guest.  Whatever you decide, make them feel welcome.

Be a listening ear for those in need.  Be sure the confidences that are shared with you remain with you.  Never tell what was told to you in secret.  If you feel someone else needs to know about this particular problem, encourage the individual to go to that person herself.  Sometimes just talking to someone about a problem will help to put it in the proper perspective.

Encourage the elders, deacons, preachers and teachers in the good works they do.  Notice the little things and comment on them.  If a good lesson has been taught, say so.  When a difficult or unpopular decision has been made, tell them you appreciate the stand they take and abide by that decision.

Help your husband to become qualified to be an elder or deacon.  I know of no greater work for the Lord than to lead God’s people to their heavenly reward.  Remember to be a qualified elder, he must have a qualified wife (1 Timothy 3:1-11).

Faith, devotion, courage and a desire to learn God’s Word will help us to grow.  With growth we will begin to work for Christ.  Benevolence, hospitality and teaching will be the visible result.  There is plenty of work for all.  Find your talents, develop them and use them for Christ.  Remember God has given us a role to fill.  Willingly fill that role, yet be mindful of the restrictions God placed upon us.  When we are busy doing all we can, we will not have time or desire to object to those restrictions.


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Gospel Gazette Online
Louis Rushmore, Editor
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