I’m supposed to be answering the next question in the study guide for Juggling Life’s Responsibilities, which discusses 1 Timothy 2:9-15:
“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:9-15, LITV).
For most of us, this passage is loaded with extremely controversial questions. I’ll return to this passage next time, Lord willing, but for today, I felt that this entire passage of Scripture brings up a priority question in our culture. How do we as women find our significance? How does God say we are to find our significance?
As we women are making goals and dreams for the coming year, significance is an important reason why we make the goals we do. In fact, our never-ending search for significance is often one of the reasons why we can’t seem to get everything done in our days, which then fuels massive amounts of frustration and guilt.
We want to do something significant! I’ll even allow that, for many of us, our hearts have deceived us into thinking that we just want to do something significant for the kingdom of God. Yet, if God wanted us to have all this significance, then why is He not arranging our time, energy, health and circumstances so that we can accomplish all our plans? Why are our days ending in frustration, anger, and tears?
Paul writes about the mission God gave him:
“I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” (1 Timothy 2:7, LITV).
I guess I want to have a little of Paul’s thunder. I want to be “appointed” to do great things, as Paul was, even to the point of receiving two thousand years’ worth of fame, as he did.
Yet Paul doesn’t go on to tell us how we can receive a similar appointment. I searched through Acts briefly this morning, to see how God works when He appoints people to a special job. It seems like God moves quickly, miraculously, and mysteriously, often choosing people that we would never choose — so that HE will get the glory and not man. In fact, my husband and I were discussing that if WE were God, we would not have appointed Jonah, Jeremiah, Samson, Gideon, Moses, or many of the other Old Testament “heroes” to be heralds of God’s message. We would have chosen people who were truly “significant,” at least in man’s eyes.
So Paul says that God “appointed” him as a herald and an apostle, but what about the rest of us “normal” people? Paul goes on in the next verse to tell how both men and women can find significance.
For men, he writes,
“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing” (1 Timothy 2:8, LITV).
Not too much fame, praise, or applause here, is there? Just a simple life of good deeds, of a life set apart to God and evidenced by good character. Lifting up holy hands in prayer is simply a reference to the ordinary daily prayers that all the believing and God-fearing men offered up to God three times a day, whether in the temple, the synagogue, or in their own homes. Nothing too “significant” here.
Then for women, he writes,
“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Timothy 2:9-10, LITV).
He is saying that our significance comes, not from the praise and applause of mankind, but from the good deeds we do for the praise and applause of God.
If you don’t have a large family and appear on national TV as a spokeswoman for family values, this certainly doesn’t mean you don’t have significance. If you don’t have a well-trafficked blog and get a book contract and regular appearances on Oprah, this certainly doesn’t mean you don’t have significance. In fact, God says that you are more likely to have true significance for His kingdom, because you’ll have the time you need to concentrate on what He’s asked us as women to do — good deeds!
Significance can come from only two places — the eyes of man or the eyes of God. It’s very hard for us to visualize standing before God some day, yet if we don’t live with our eyes on eternity, we’ll visualize standing before people today. We’ll dress to please the people in our culture. We’ll say things that fit in, we’ll make career choices to gain their praise, and we’ll feel insignificant if we can’t attain to their standards (which we can’t, of course).
Yet the Bible makes it very clear that we will stand before God someday!
“For the Son of Man is about to come with His angels in the glory of His Father. And then “He will give reward to each according to his practice” (Matthew 16:27).
“I have sworn by Myself, the Word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:23).
“For it has been written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, that every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue confess to God.’ So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
“Because of this, we also are striving to be pleasing to Him, whether being at home, or being away from home. For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to what he did, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
When Isaiah stood before God (Isaiah 6), it dramatically changed his life. When John stood before God (Revelation 4), it dramatically changed his life. Why not take some time this week to get into God’s Word, to see what it’s like to stand before God, and allow it to change your life?
And if it changes your life, what will your life look like? Will you suddenly rise to great prominence, with a message to give to the masses — while you have less and less time to spend with your family or to do “insignificant” things?
God certainly says that women have great significance in His eyes:
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7, NIV).
Just as the Gentile is grafted in with the Israelite and given all the promises of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-14, 3:6), and just as the slave is given all the riches of Christ with his master, so women (who were considered as the lowest members of society in many first-century cultures) are heirs together with their husbands of the grace of God.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29, NIV).
We have significance because of Jesus. Actually, He is the significant one, and we are just vessels. He will receive all the acclaim, glory and honor. But we are important to God because we are purchased with the precious blood of His dear Son.
So what do we do with our significance? Do we come to Jesus, as one mother did?
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:20-28, NIV)
Over the next few posts, we’re going to be examining 1 Timothy 2:9-15 in great depth, addressing questions like, “Can women speak in church or be pastors?” Obviously these are controversial issues, yet this passage seems to speak plainly and literally. Women are to be silent. Women are to be in submission.
So before you feel the heat rising up the back of your neck, lest you think that God says you have no significance, remember that you have great significance, yet you are called to lay aside your goals and dreams — and to serve others.
God says we are to take the significance He gives us and use it to serve others. This takes the spotlight off ourselves and how great we are and puts it where it belongs, on God and how great He is. We might go our whole lives without ever having the praise of any person, but are we content to have the praise of God in eternity? Are we content to bring lives into the kingdom by our good deeds rather than by our words?
P.S. Traditionally I take some quiet time this week to make some goals for the coming year. This time, I’d like to look through the following verses first, to see if I’m doing what God says I should be doing. Want to join me? 🙂
1 Timothy 2:9-15
1 Timothy 5:9-10
1 Peter 3:2-4
1 Peter 2:12