The Herald Weekly Vol XV : 21

Sisters Serving the Lord

At Herald, we delight in the truth that men and women are both created in the image of God. Both are equal in value before God, and neither one has an exalted position before Him. Both stand in equal need for the salvation that only Jesus can provide. We rejoice in the different roles that God has given to men and women in home and family life as well as the family life of the church.

It has been Herald’s practice for the English-speaking service to have our deacons and male leaders lead in the Worship Service. We recognize our sisters as co-equal partakers of the grace of God and the blessings of the New Covenant. They are joint heirs with Christ, and they lack no privilege before the Lord (Gal. 3:23-29). It is time to have them take an active part at the Worship Service, and taking the role of leading in singing and in the collection of offerings.

Women have always enjoyed an exalted position within the household of faith: from Abraham’s exemplary wife, Sarah, who is an example of fearing nothing that is frightening (Gen. 12:10-20; 1 Peter 3:6) to Ruth, who left her family and everything she knew to follow after Lord (Ruth 1:16), to Mary Magdalene who enjoyed the honour and distinct privilege of being the first human witness to the resurrection of our Lord (Matt. 28:1). Tabitha was such a blessing to the early church that they pleaded for her resurrection from the dead (Acts 9:36-42), and Phoebe, who was such a model servant in the church at Cenchreae that Paul commended her. (Rom. 16:1)

This message of the value and equality of our sisters is important as we look forward to them serving God and together with the brothers proclaim Christ’s death until He comes. We are all equal partakers in the blessings purchased by His death and the hope of our resurrection from the dead. Let us together, brothers and sisters, continue to thank God for what He has done to save us and sustain us through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The virtuous woman

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes some of the characteristics of this virtuous wife. Her heart, hands and tongue are described as excellent.

Nothing is mentioned about her physical beauty or her feminine charm, for these are declared to be worthless and deceptive (v. 30). It would be an excellent thing if all women and young girls, and especially young men considering marriage, realise this.

The virtuous woman described here, has a heart that fears God (v. 30). This is the foundation for her whole life. She works with her hands, stitching clothes, cooking meals, planting trees and helping the poor (v. 13-22). She uses her tongue at all times with kindness and wisdom (v. 26). She is God-fearing, hard-working and kind – even if she is not beautiful. The glory of God is manifested through her pure heart, rough hands and soft tongue. It is in these areas that God looks for women today to manifest His glory. (Worldly women, in contrast, have an impure heart, with hands well-manicured and softened with expensive creams, but possess a rough tongue!).

As a wife, the virtuous woman is a true helper to her husband. She does him good consistently till the end of her life – not in fits and starts (v. 12). In other words, she never loses her first love for him. She also adjusts herself to his profession and calling in life, supplementing his income with her own quiet labours at home, being thrifty and careful in expenditure, so that no money is wasted. She relieves her husband of home responsibilities, so that he can have a ministry in the land for the Lord (v. 23-27). No wonder her husband praises her saying that of all the women in the world, she is the best of the lot (v. 29). Such a woman certainly deserves to be praised publicly too (v. 31), for she has understood the glory of her calling as a woman.

The New Testament places great emphasis on ‘serving the saints’ in our homes. “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay in the night. … and get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner” (1 Pet. 4:9; Rom. 12:23 – LB). Hospitality is primarily the responsibility of the wife in the home. She can receive a prophet’s reward, without ever being a prophet herself, merely by welcoming a prophet into her home Matt. 10:41). She will be rewarded for hospitality shown to the least of Jesus’ disciples as well (Matt. 10:41). To receive an apostle into our homes is equivalent to(receiving Jesus Himself (Matt. 10:40). Likewise, to receive a child in Jesus’ name is also equivalent to receiving Jesus (Matt. 18:5). What fantastic possibilities are opened up for sisters in the area of hospitality. The early Christians (to whom Paul and Peter wrote concerning hospitality), were by and large, very poor. Simple food and a place to sleep on the floor however, were all that they were asked to offer the saints. It is when believers seek the honour of men that they feel that they cannot be hospitable, until they are capable of offering rich food and grand accommodation. 1 Timothy 5:10 indicates that even poor widows in the first century, served the saints in their homes. The glory of God is seen in a woman who has seen her calling as a home-maker.

Her Calling As A Mother

Adam called his wife ‘Eve’, because she was a mother. In the pure light of God’s presence in Eden, he knew clearly what his wife’s ministry was. Eve knew it as well. Sin and human traditions (influenced by Satan) have now, however, clouded women’s understanding, so that she no longer sees her glory as a mother. Children are now called by the Satanic name of ‘accidents’, when God calls them ‘gifts’ (Psa. 127:3). They are also considered to be a ‘nuisance’, when God considers them to be a ‘blessing’ (Psa. 127:5; 128:4). This is but another indication of how far, even some Christians have drifted away from God and have become influenced by Satan.

Timothy’s mother, Eunice, however, was quite different. She had seen her calling clearly. Though her husband was an unbeliever (Acts 16:1), it did not dampen Eunice’s faith. She was a woman with a ‘sincere faith’ (2 Tim. 1:5) who knew the word of God. She taught God’s Word to Timothy (2 Tim. 3:14-15); and more than that – she imparted her sincere faith to him as well. Timothy’s home was one where his mother enabled him to breathe the pure air of ‘faith’ in the midst of a world full of the poisonous fumes of unbelief. He probably saw his mother frequently in prayer, frequently praising God, trusting God in difficult situations and never nagging or complaining – for these are but some of the characteristics of a ‘sincere faith’. It is not surprising then that Timothy grew up to be a believer, and a close co-worker of the apostle Paul. His mother’s labours finally bore fruit.

That should be a challenge to all 20th century mothers. Eunice, Timothy’s mother, did more for the Lord and the church, by being a first class mother at home for 16 to 20 years, than she could ever have done if she had travelled the world as a preacher for 100 years. We have also heard of Susannah Wesley, who was the mother of 15 children. Poverty stalked her home and some of her children died in childhood. But she brought up the others in the fear of God, personally instructing each one of them. One of her sons, John Wesley, grew up to be a mighty instrument in God’s hands. Millions throughout the world have been blessed during the last two centuries, through his labours and his writings. Susannah Wesley could never have done even a small fraction of what her son did, if she had neglected her home and preferred to make more money, or even travelled the world as a Bible teacher or evangelist.

In talking about the ministries of men and women, Paul tells Timothy, that although women cannot have either the ministry of teaching or eldership, they can have the ministry of motherhood (1 Tim. 2:12, 15). In the context of the letter, it is obvious that Paul considers motherhood to be a ministry in the church. This is the second ministry that God calls women to – to be a God-fearing mother to her children.

Timothy had seen the glory of this in his own childhood home. He was then to teach that to others in Ephesus.

Men excel women in all professions in life. In one area alone do women stand out as unique – as ‘mothers’. This, by itself, indicates what God created woman to be. Mothers who have neglected their children either to go to work to earn more money (to live in greater luxury) or even to be preachers, have invariably had the sad experience, later on in life, of seeing their children suffer in one way or another, due to their being neglected in their early years. They can do nothing but regret now. This should be a warning to the younger generation of mothers. If a mother goes to work, for the sake of her family’s financial survival, God will certainly give such a family extra grace. But where the motive is luxury and a higher standard of living, then the consequences of neglecting the children can be disastrous.

Let us pray for all our mothers – those at home, and those who have gone out to work. May God enable them to understand the calling which God has given to them as ‘Mothers’.

Pastor Bob Phee

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