The Gospel Frees Women to Glorify God and Not Self

In verses 9 and 10 of 1 Timothy 2 Paul, speaking to the women, says,

“likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” (1 Ti 2:9–10)

Disclaimer

Now, before we go any further, you have to know that Paul never intended his letter to be a one size fits all guide for what women should wear in all places and at all times. He was dealing with a specific situation in the church at Ephesus.

The Situation

The women in the church at Ephesus dressed in a way that not only drew attention to their beauty but also their social status. Their dress was causing problems in Ephesus.The men were having trouble paying attention. God wasn’t the main focus, their looks and beauty were. As well as those of a lower status felt inferior.

Connection to Today

In some sense, these things haven’t changed today. Women still dress too provocatively. And they still use fashion as a way to get attention and show off their social status. So while Paul never meant his letter to be a one size fits all fashion guide for women, the guidelines he provides are still applicable to Christian women today.

What does Paul tell these women?

He tells them that they need to operate under a different set of values from the culture. Instead of using clothing and jewelry to highlight their beauty and social status, they should dress modestly and allow their good works to make them beautiful. Doing that would not only help the men focus during worship, but it would also put the focus back on God. As well as it would keep other women in the church from feeling inferior.

Gospel Freedom

While Paul’s ideas are definitely counter-cultural, it’s possible for Christian women to live them out because the gospel has freed them to glorify God and not self.

Question for Reflection

  1. Whose glory are you seeking – your glory or God’s?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What Frees the Church to Operate as God has Called and Designed for Us to Operate?

11 Thing to Pray for a Deeper Prayer Life

Men, Lead Out In Prayer!

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” (1 Ti 2:8)

According to Paul, men are to put away petty differences and anger. Instead of fighting, they are to pray with one another. Paul gives this command to the men instead of the women because as one commentator says,

“As a general rule, men are more likely to agitate the church…they are critical and competitive. They tend to argue first and listen later. They would rather be right than be reconciled. They get angry when they don’t get their way. So the Bible reminds Christian men not to fight.”[1]

Competitive and Dominate

Men, you know this is true. Being competitive and dominate is what comes naturally. When we don’t win or come out on top, we are more likely to get angry and fight with one another. As Christian men, however, we aren’t supposed to fight and burst out in anger at one another. Instead, as Paul tells us, we are to be spiritual leaders, who lead out in prayer.

Freed by the Gospel

While being a spiritual leader who leads out in prayer might be difficult and unnatural, it’s possible because the gospel has changed us. It has freed us to love others more than ourselves, to forgive and let go, to lift others up and work alongside them.

What the Church and Country Needs

Honestly, prayer is what the church needs. It especially needs men who are willing to lead spiritually, and specifically, to lead in the area of prayer. Men, we can’t abdicate our responsibility any longer to the women in the church. We must lead as God has called us to lead.

I am sure other pastors in other times have said this but I am going to say it now in our time.

Men, if we want our country and community to change, if we want to see people come to Jesus, we have to be spiritual leaders who are leading out in prayer.

I am not just talking to Pastors, Deacons, and Sunday School teachers. I am talking to all men. All of us need to be spiritual leaders, who are leading out in prayer.

Challenge

With that in mind, then, let me issue a challenge to the men in the church. The next time you are with a group of men, your family, or your church family and the conversation turns to a discussion about what needs to change in this country, instead of joining into that discussion, I want you to stop and lead them in prayer. I want you to do that because just talking about what needs to change isn’t going to change anything, but you praying with others will.

Jeremiah Lanphier

If you aren’t convinced, consider the story of Jeremiah Lanphier. He lived in New York City in the 1850’s. New York City wasn’t much different then than it is today. It was a place full of sin. Corruption, gambling, greed, atheism, and apathy toward God ran rampant.

Instead of continuing to complain, Lanphier decided to do something. Believing in the power of prayer, he put an ad in the newspaper calling for a weekly prayer meeting. The first meeting began with six men praying that the Lord would do a work in their city and the world. As they continued to meet, something amazing happened. Within six months, over 10,000 people were gathering daily, instead of weekly, to pray over the lunch hour for their city and the country. Their prayers lit a fire of mass revival [2].

It all started with on man’s burden and an ad calling others to join him in prayer. You see, prayer is powerful. It changes things. So men, let’s be the spiritual leaders God has called us to be and lead out in prayer. The gospel has freed us to do that, so let’s do it.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you realize the gospel frees you to be a spiritual leader?
  2. Are you leading out in prayer in your family and church?

Resources

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[1]  Philip Graham Ryken, 1 Timothy, ed. Richard D. Phillips, Daniel M. Doriani, and Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 78.

[2] Adapted from this article: http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/577

What frees the church to operate as God has called and designed for us to operate?

Not too long ago my mother-in-law introduced me to the musical group The Piano Guys. You can find a lot of their music on YouTube. They are known for playing in amazing locations. One of their videos shows them playing on the Salt Flats in Utah, another on the top of a mountain, and in another, they are playing in a frozen ice castle. Truly breathtaking places! If you haven’t seen any of their videos, you should head on over to YouTube and check them out.

Watching and listening to them play, there is no doubt they are talented. But their talent alone is not what makes their music so amazing. There are a lot of folks out there who are just as talented but aren’t as good. What sets The Piano Guys apart is the time spent practicing. Since they spend a lot of time in practice before the big shoot they are freed to play their instruments in the way they have been designed to be played when it comes time to roll the cameras. The result is an audience left in awe at such beautiful music.

In a similar way, the church must be freed to operate in the way God has called and designed us to operate if we are going to be people who bring glory to God. But that freedom doesn’t come naturally. Something has to take place. What is it?

What frees the church to operate as God has called and designed for us to operate?

In the beginning of verse 8, we come across the word “then” or “therefore”. Depending on which translation you are reading the text says,

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;” (1 Ti 2:8)

That little word — “therefore” or “then” — is important because it points us back to the idea that came before. The textual idea before verse 8 has to do with prayer, specifically prayer for “all peoples“, including the governing authorities.

A Restored Relationship

According to Paul, we are to pray for God to work good in the lives of those who lead us and for God to bring them to salvation so that we can live in a persecution free society where the gospel can flourish. The reason we want the gospel or the good news about Jesus to flourish is because it’s what provides salvation. There aren’t multiple paths to God. All religions aren’t the same. They don’t all lead to the same place. Christianity is the only religion that leads to eternal life.

Christianity can claim it is the only way to God because at its center is Jesus, who is the perfect God-man who offered the perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Instead of us facing God’s wrath, Jesus faced it for us. All those who believe that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to repair our relationship with the Father experience just that — a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life.

A Changed Heart

Along with a restored relationship with the Father and eternal life, believers also experience a changed heart. One that’s free from the power of sin. And one that’s free to live as God has designed and called us to live.

So the church is freed to operate as the God has called and designed because we have experienced a fundamental change in our relationship with God, as well as our heart has been changed from one that is bent on serving self to serving God.

Question for Reflection

  1. Has your heart been changed so that you desire to serve God instead of self?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon What Frees the Church to Operate as God has Called and Designed for Us to Operate?

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