Becoming a Woman of Excellence- Part 3
Over the past two months, I have been blogging about the Bible character of Ruth and how her life was shown to be a one of excellence and that one of the goals of our lives as women of God should be to pursue excellence. I have outlined that the costs associated with this pursuit are rooted in surrender and exemplified by obedience and in today's blog, I hope to show the treasures that are portrayed in the life of a godly woman of excellence.
As mentioned in April and May, I will reference the work of Cynthia Heald in her book "Becoming a Woman of Excellence" and the commentary on Ruth from Warren Wiersbe.
Heald explains the 'prize' associated with becoming a woman of excellence is five fold. She is DISCIPLINED, DISCREET, GENTLE and QUIET, PURE and WISE.
"The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
To be self disciplined takes self control. In some areas of my life, I believe I'm reasonably well disciplined. Physically speaking, I exercise regularly, go to bed at a time that give me enough sleep, and eat healthy and well balanced food- well.... most of the time.( I must admit that some Haighs chocolate bullets with my cuppa would be nice at the moment! :) ) I am careful with managing my time; giving space for work, rest and play. But again, I can be on my device window shopping far longer than is necessary! ;(
Financially, I try to live within my means and live simply and resourcefully. Although... I am often buying clothes for myself I DO NOT need! :/
But self discipline does not only extend to the physical and financial self and good time management. We need to be self disciplined in mind, will and emotions.
I like Wiersbe's definition.. 'a person who is self disciplined is sensibly minded and balanced, who has (her) life under control.'
Thanks be to God who has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit! As we seek to stay close to Him, allowing Him to work in and through us as we obey His Word, we will bear self control which we know to be one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
In pursuing excellence for the glory of God, we must learn to NOT be governed by our feelings and emotions. Although they have been given to us by God Himself, we are not to make decisions based on our feelings which are fleeting and our emotions which are ever changing. To do this shows a lack of self discipline and doesn't define a life of excellence. The prophet Jeremiah (whom I have written about before) is a good example for us. Although called the 'weeping prophet' who lamented often over the wickedness of God's people and spend his life trying to turn them back to Him, he shows us that, while it is important to express our feelings, we should not dwell on them but instead exercise our will to think the truth. We need to speak life and the truths of who God is and who WE are in Him- often. If we don't, we will wallow in our own self pity and victimization and be in a perpetual state of depression.
Elizabeth Elliot said.. :'The discipline of emotions is the training of responses.' How true! We need to ask ourselves; 'How often do I react rather than respond to a situation'?
"Discretion will guide you, understanding will watch over you." Proverbs 2:11
To be discreet is multi-faceted. A discreet person is not only self controlled but wise. The book of Proverbs is full of verses that talk about those who possess versus those who lack, discretion. In brief, a discreet woman says and does the right things in the right way at the right time(C. Heald). If a woman is discreet, she is sensible, slow to speak ( a biggie for me to work on!), slow to become angry ( another one I haven't mastered yet!), dresses modestly (this topic is a blog all on it's own and I'll leave that to the 'discretion of my readers' to define what this one means) and plans ahead. ( flying by the seed of one's pants isn't endorsed in scripture!)
Simply said- a discreet woman honours the Lord.
Paul said to Titus, when speaking of the qualities for sound doctrine in Christians, that "the word of God may not be dishonoured." (Titus 2:5). King David said to his son Solomon- "May the Lord give you discretion and understanding." (1 Chron. 22:12)
GENTLE and QUIET
These quality traits have been the source of confusion and contention over the years I've been a Christian. In the Greek, the word prays and praytes means meek and meekness, words that are consistent with other words such as gentle, humble and considerate. A woman can be loud and laugh alot but still exhibit the traits of meekness, humility and a considerateness for others just as a quiet person can be the opposite.
The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, among other traits, to be gentle. (1 Tim. 6:11). Peter taught that beauty isn't skin deep but rather be clothed with inward beauty. Paul said to the Thessalonians "Make it your goal to lead a quiet life." (1 Thess. 4:11)
Jesus described Himself as 'gentle and humble" (Matt. 11)
We need to find our security and confidence in the Lord. Sometimes, a person's loud exterior can be a cover for insecurity and the need to be liked by everyone. Paul tells us in Romans that "God is for us.. so who can be against us?"(Rom. 8:31).
Cynthia Heald lists a number of hindrances to our gentle and calm spirits. I will list them below, without comment, for you to meditate on in your own time and with the Lord.
"Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behaviour, because as it is written, "You shall be Holy for I am Holy'." 1 Peter 1:15-16
It's a challenge to be pure and remain so in such an impure world. Our world mocks purity and holy living. To be holy, in the world's opinion, is to be boring and hypocritical. But we are "in this world but not of this world." We are called to live to a higher and better standard to what the world offers.
To be honest, I'm shocked and saddened by the number of Christians who swear, tell crude jokes, talk openly about their sex lives and watch unholy and impure TV shows and movies at the cinema! There is really no need for it. Christians don't lose anything nor are they missing out by avoiding impurity and unholiness. Christians only stand to gain from holy living. God is clear in His word about how He desires for us to live- in purity and holiness. The WWJD (What would Jesus do? mantra of the 90's may seem corny but it has merit, particularly when we may wonder if 'we should or not' do or say something we know to be questionable.)
"The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." James 3:17
A woman of excellence is a wise woman. So much has been written about wisdom and it's important to recognise the difference between worldly wisdom (or intellect) and heavenly wisdom.
The word translated 'wise' comes from the Greek word sophos which describes 'one with moral insight and skill in the practical issues of life'. Proverbs 4:7 says "getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!"
(Because I am currently studying the book of Proverbs, I would like to share what I've been learning with my readers over the next few months and dedicate some blog posts on the topic of wisdom alone. )
It's pretty daunting to think over all that's required in becoming a woman of excellence. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, the study of the scriptures and our godly desire to be like Him, the Lord is with us every step of the way, "changing us from glory to glory" until that day "when we see Him face to face and we will then be like Him."
Blessings to you....