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Archive for August, 2011

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  (Genesis 1:27)

Recently a lot of time and money was spent by the media to cover a storm that never amounted to the disaster the press was predicting. For days the only thing viewers could see on the TV news was coverage of some high winds and some flooding. This was a problem for the people who lived on the East coast; I’m not denying that. But why are the American people being distracted with stories about minor inconveniences to their comfortable lifestyle due to a temporary power outage when there are millions of women living in shameful conditions with physical harm being done to them, and even death, unless someone rescues them? Why isn’t there any coverage on the truly serious horror that millions of women worldwide face daily in the form of honor killings, sexual slavery, and genital cutting?

There are many reasons why people will not deal with this problem, starting with the fact that humans have forgotten that they are, men and WOMEN, created in the image of God. I would like to address that in another blog posting. But this time, I would like to review a book that I highly recommend for anyone who is interested in doing something about the problem. I have several reservations for Christians that I will mention at the end of this review.

The authors, Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn have done women a great service by describing the problem and then listing practical ways that we can get involved in helping to turn the tide of abuse against women.
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, (Vintage Books, New York, 2010).

The title is taken from a Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky.”

The authors are the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. They won this for their coverage of China as New York Times correspondents.

While in China, they witnessed the atrocities at Tiananmen Square. The whole world was shocked at the massacre of the four to eight hundred people. This seemed to be the most flagrant violation of human rights and was covered by every newspaper on the planet.

But a year later, Nicholas and Sheryl came across some studies that showed that tens of thousands of others were having their human rights violated every year. No one was reporting this story. The fact is that thirty-nine thousand baby girls die in the first year of their lives annually in China due to the neglect of their parents only because they are girl babies. Nicholas and Sheryl began to wonder if their priorities about the stories they were covering were a bit skewed. Thus began their work in uncovering and reporting the abuses against women and girls worldwide. One result is this very helpful book.

In the book, they choose to tell a lot of anecdotal stories. This is not because they ignore the statistics. The numbers of women being harmed is overwhelming, perhaps too overwhelming. They believe that one reason that we don’t hear stories about the abysmal treatment of women is because it is happening thousands of times every day. It is “old news” and considered boring. Many people feel that they can never do anything about such a huge problem, so why try. The media would rather focus on single disasters.

What Nicholas and Sheryl have done is to tell the stories of real women, leaving out no details, no matter how horrific. You can’t help but sympathize. They have made the problem real and personal. Readers will find themselves wanting to go and help. You know by the time you finish the book that you can do something to help. No, you won’t change the whole world, but you can certainly change the life of at least one girl or woman. This is one of the best things about the book; the authors alleviate the feelings of helplessness to do anything about the enormous amount of atrocities against women.

Another valuable aspect of the book is the appendix. In it there are listed around fifty organizations that help women. There is a brief description of what each one does, including which part of the world where they are working. Opportunities for help range from getting educated, donating money, and even volunteering.

You can’t read this book without being changed in your appreciation for the problem of inhumane treatment of women, and being challenged and inspired to do something about it. You will be encouraged that you can help and I hope you will.

There are just a few observations that I would like to make as a Christian.
First, while religious groups are given credit by the authors for what they are doing, the Scriptural reason for why we should treat women with respect is not stated. The authors seem to want to avoid any religious controversies.  I don’t think that they are born again Christians, and so I understand that. But those of us who are Christians need to remember that women are made in the image of God. As Christians, once we are aware of the horrible treatment of women because they are female, we need to repent of our neglect of the problem and then get busy and do something about it. Millions of dollars are spent on Right to Life campaigns and facilities to rescue the unborn. This is wonderful. Now, how about the Church waking up and spending money on helping victims of sexual abuse?

I appreciate that the authors want to empower women by helping them to help themselves. They stress this as the best way to help women. I think that it is only part of the way to help women. Something needs to be done about the men who perpetrate these crimes. Perhaps the authors are hoping that others will address those aspects of the problem. As Christians, we can help by voicing the Biblical admonitions against sin. Sin is not a politically correct issue, but we must be willing to preach about it as we spread the good news of the Gospel. It is a sin for men to treat women disrespectfully. It is a sin for men to believe that women are something less than human. We are all made in the image of God and deserve to be treated accordingly.

Another issue where I disagree with the authors is in their “whitewashing” of Islam. It is interesting that in one place they say that Muhammad is responsible for a step forward for women. I don’t know how they can read the writings of Muslims and say that with a straight face. In other places the authors admit that “cuttings” of girls is predominantly in the Muslim countries. So, they contradict themselves. This is a shortcoming that is not going to solve any problems in the long run. Conspicuous by its absence is the history of freedom for women in predominantly Christian nations.

Still one more caution that I would like to make for Christians is that abortion seems to be acceptable to the authors. As Christians, we must come up with some other methods to help women that don’t involve making the helpless, unborn infant pay the price. I would caution readers to find out which organizations listed in the appendix participate in the practice of abortion before sending them any of their money. I commend the authors for listing so many different groups. One wonderful Christian-based organization that is listed is International Justice Mission (IJM).

Since the media, and apparently most church pastors, won’t talk about the widespread dehumanizing of women around the world, including here in the United States, I am very glad that Nicholas and Sheryl have written this book. They have personally been involved in helping women for many years now. I pray that we Christian women who have been blessed so much in our country will extend our love and aid to those less fortunate. There is no excuse now, with the help given in this timely book everyone can participate in the rescue of at least one woman or girl.

 

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“Curse God and die!”  These are the very encouraging words of Job’s wife upon hearing that all of her children were dead and her husband was afflicted with terrible boils. I cannot be too harsh on her since I am not in her shoes. Perhaps this was just too much for her. This was a natural reaction to disaster, but one which we must not fall into. It’s tempting to blame God rather than to trust Him. We are not told exactly whether or not she had a vital relationship with God, but we do know that later after their trials were over, God gave her seven more sons and three daughters. Perhaps she eventually repented and remembered Who her Savior was.
 

The Bible tells us the story of some women who never repented and what happened to them for trusting idols instead.

 

Times were very bad during the sixth century BC. God had been warning His children that they were far from Him. He sent prophets, including Jeremiah, to admonish them. Things went from bad to worse as the Israelites refused to repent and turn back to God. They continued to burn incense to other gods. The women especially came under condemnation for sacrificing to a goddess called the “queen of heaven” (Jeremiah 44:25). They made vows to this idol and were just sure that they would find protection in this false deity.

 

God had promised that His wrath would fall on them for this. He said that Jerusalem would be attacked and desolated. The only way that they could save themselves would be to turn to Him and trust Him. Under no circumstances should they try to find salvation in Egypt. God warned that those living in Egypt would die by the sword, by famine, or by pestilence. There was no hope for escape. Jeremiah warned them that the only hope for salvation lay in Yahweh. They responded with, “We are not going to listen to you! But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food and were well off and saw no misfortune.” The women added, “When we were burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and were pouring out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands that we made for her sacrificial cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” (Jeremiah 44: 16-19). The only problem here is that the queen of heaven did not give them these things; God did.

 

This situation reminds me so much of our day. People are sure forgetful. Why do they think this is the richest country in the world? They have forgotten that this land began as a Christian nation, and our laws are based on Biblical principles. The Israelites had food because God had blessed them in spite of themselves. We are currently living off of the capital that was earned by our ancestors who worked hard and honored God. We are still receiving blessings in spite of ourselves.

 

A little thought will show that things are falling apart in our country today because we don’t honor God first any more. He is under no obligation to bless us when we constantly throw our idolatries in His face. Many women in our culture are no different than the Jewish women who worshiped the so-called queen of heaven. We just have different names for our idols. Rather than listen to what the Scriptures tell us about modesty, kindness, and genuine love, we have decided that “sexy”, “me-first”, and “what can I get out of it?” are the order of the day. We worship at the temple of our bodies, whether it is in the area of health, feelings, or dress. Billions of dollars are spent every year on cosmetics, counselors, and fads, while giving to charitable causes is at an all time low. We show every day what our real priorities are and what we really worship.

 

What can we learn from this? First, we are not the only women in history who have faced struggles. At the time of Jeremiah’s prophecies, the Babylonians had already begun to overrun the land. Many people had been taken into captivity. What was the response? “We are not going to listen to you!” We know what happened. God allowed the Babylonians to complete the job of destroying and burning down Jerusalem. Those who did not submit to their captors were killed by the sword, by famine, or by pestilence as God promised.

 

But it did not have to happen. They had the option of repenting, and so do we. We know the end of the story. Many unrepentant Israelites went to Egypt anyway. God allowed only a few straggling refugees to return to Judah from Egypt.  He did this so that everyone would know whose word would stand – the disobedient Israelites’, or His.  If we haven’t learned anything else, we must remember Who our Savior is. We still have time to stop following false gods and goddesses and turn to God. We can get down on our knees and ask for forgiveness, start praying more, and getting into the Word. Our nation was once a people of the Book. That is when there was true happiness, and real wealth. The further we stray from God and His Word, the more calamities will befall us.

 

Secondly, we can learn from studying history. For those women who are honoring God in their lives, there is hope. We are all affected by the disastrous economy and moral degradation around us. We cannot escape it all. But, God has always had a remnant of faithful followers who received His protection and special blessings. In Jeremiah’s day, there were the people who heeded Jeremiah’s prophecy and stayed as far away from the idolatrous worship as possible. They also listened and obeyed and did not try to go to Egypt. They remained in the land, because their hope and trust was in Yahweh, who had taken care of them and their forefathers. Eventually the military leaders of the Babylonians would leave them there to care for the land. They studied their history and knew that any good thing that they had came from God.

 

The faithful children of God learned much of their Scriptures through singing the Psalms. Surely the ones that God protected, who remained in the land must have known:

“The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.” (Including the worshipers of the queen of heaven.)

“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.” (Will we make God our Lord again?)

“The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength.” (We cannot hope that a corrupt government will save us.)

“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.” (God will protect His remnant.)

As God blessed and protected the faithful, believing Israelite women, I pray that we also will say, “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.” (Psalm 33: 10 – 12, 16, 18 – 22).

 

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And he who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25b)

This year has been especially hard on our family as we have lost a number of faithful friends. Several of our pets have reached very old age and we have had to say good-bye to these happy, comforting companions. What is it about losing a dog that can bring so many tears to our eyes? Dogs are only animals, but they can sure get under our skin.

God has created some animals to be helpers for us, such as horses and mules. Many dogs also work for humans in rounding up cattle, pulling sleds, and finding lost hikers. But there is something really special about the family pet that causes us to miss them when they die.

Those who have had a dog, especially from puppyhood, recognize what I am talking about when I say that it is a dog’s utter unselfishness that makes us love them. They serve us without asking for anything more in return than to be fed and petted. They are so happy to see us all the time no matter how we behave. We’ve all heard the stories about dogs that have sacrificed themselves to save others. There is something about that that really touches us.

I saw a movie one time about a tragedy in a family. They had a car accident and many of them died. There was not a peep in the theatre until someone came along and opened the back door of the car and the family pet fell out. Then there was much loud weeping and crying. I heard one woman exclaim, “Oh no! Not the dog!” Why is that?

I believe that it is because we all long to know someone who is faithful. In spite of the loose morals of our times, we long to have faithful spouses. We long to have friends who love us unconditionally.  We don’t like it when people stab us in the back. And that is just what your dog will never do to you. Our dogs are often more trustworthy and loving than some people we know. I know that I am not nearly as forgiving as my dog is.

There is a hole in us that wants unconditional love. Those of us who are Christians know that Christ can fill that need. He alone is truly faithful and all loving. He alone always does what is best for us and is always there for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us by giving His life on the cross so that we can have a relationship with Him. I don’t know why others were weeping at the theatre; I was weeping because I was reminded of the One Who gave His life for me.

And so, how do we find true happiness? What can we learn from our dogs? Do we love our dogs because they are always happy to serve us just to be with us? Is there some connection between unselfishness and happiness?

Solomon taught us, “He who waters will himself be watered.” In other words, in order to get, we must give. If we want to be happy we must make others happy.

This seems counterintuitive in our day of “me first”. Most people go about trying to make themselves happy by getting everything they want, when they want it. The public schools are busy making children believe that the world revolves around them. When today’s kids grow up, they have no clue how to find true happiness. And so, they go to movies and cry when the faithful dog dies and they don’t know why. They don’t know how to fill that void. What is that characteristic that their dog has that they are missing?

We find true happiness in serving and being useful to others. In so doing, we also learn useful things for ourselves. That is how we are also watered while we are watering others. We grow spiritually and emotionally and increase in well being when we do. When we take time to grieve with another, we cultivate our own sympathetic spirits. We learn discipline as we save our money so that we can help widows and orphans.

Spending many hours putting together Scripture lessons for church or school, we find that we learn more than we knew before. All of the hard work that is put in when we volunteer to lead the class results in more growth for ourselves into deeper truth. We often learn just how much we did not know. Watering others results in humility for us, leading to our own growth and happiness.

We find grace from God when we give our time to cheering others up in their illnesses or other problems. When we succeed in making them happy, we are happy.

This principle is seen very clearly in our society. Notice whenever there is a disaster of some sort, people respond with aid almost immediately. Church groups and other groups rush to the scene of the flood or earthquake or tornado with food and medical supplies. There is a feeling of community and eagerness among the volunteers as they minister to the needs of the disaster victims. They love to help. It makes them feel good to help. All across the country when the story shows on the six o’clock news, people cheer for those who rushed to help and show their support with their own donations. We all recognize the good feeling that comes from helping others.

It is too bad that we often wait for disasters before our more generous natures come out. It is hard to maintain an attitude of unselfishness in our culture. And yet, if we are to be salt and light to the world, we must live our lives differently than those in the mainstream. We must wake every morning with prayers of thankfulness to God for salvation and all the many things He has done for us. Then we must ask Him to make us a blessing to others.

It is not that we are selfishly desiring our own happiness first. We first want to serve God by serving others. When we know that we are in His will and that others’ needs are met, the happiness will just come. True happiness is when we know that our Lord will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” True happiness is found in serving.

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“And Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart rejoices in the lord; my horn is exalted in the lord, I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation'” (I Samuel 2:1).

It must have been so miserable for Hannah to be childless and then suffer the agony of her husband’s bigamy. Yes, I know that some men in the Old Testament times took a second wife in order to get children, especially sons, but I don’t believe that this way of taking things into their own hands was pleasing to God. He had designed marriage to be monogamous. Every single man who had more than one wife had trouble which could have been avoided had he waited on the Lord. Because of the man’s selfishness there was always strife between the wives and among the descendants.

Year after year, Hannah had to put up with the taunts of Peninnah, the other wife. Peninnah had many children and she tortured Hannah with that fact constantly. Hannah was very patient with Peninnah’s cruelty. She prayed to God to give her a son. Hannah knew where children came from, even if her husband forgot.

After one of these provocations, when she was crying bitterly, Elkanah, her husband, asked her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

I am trying really hard to put a good spin on this for Elkanah. When he and Hannah went as a family, along with the other wife and children, to offer the yearly sacrifices to God, Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion for her offering. He did this to show her how much he loved her. He was telling Hannah that she should just be content with him because he loved her. That is the most charitable explanation I can make for a man who committed bigamy in order to get what he wanted.

This makes Hannah’s devotion to him, patience in her situation, and faith in God all the more remarkable. On some level, what Elkanah said to Hannah was truly insensitive. What was going on here? Was he so busy doing other things that he did not see what was happening in the tents of his wives? If he did, then what was he saying to Hannah? “Buck up, honey. You’ve got me. I know you wanted to have a son, but don’t worry; I found another wife for that. I’m happy, so you should be happy, too.”

I’d like to think that Elkanah was a man of faith though it was weak. He faithfully worshiped God as required by the law. However, his faith did not extend to trusting God to give him children in the right way. He sinfully and selfishly took matters in his own hands and begot children with an unkind and selfish woman. As in other bigamist marriages that we see in the Scriptures there was nothing but trouble in his family.

He should have waited for God as his faithful wife did. God had a purpose for withholding children from Hannah for a period of time. The Scriptures don’t tell us the explicit reason, but we can learn from her experience. Many of the women that God blessed so marvelously had some problems or grief to bear before He made plain to them what their calling was. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had to wait many years for her son. We do not know why God asks some women to wait so long for His blessing, but godly women know that He has a purpose and they wait on Him.

Hannah did not give up. She remained an exemplary wife to Elkanah. She followed him in obedience to all of the yearly sacrifices, worshiping God even in her disappointment. When he asked her to stop grieving, she dried her tears, ate her meal with the rest of his family, and rose and went with them to Shiloh. How hard this must have been for her. She had to travel with them enduring the taunts of Peninnah the whole way. What a shining example of godly charity and courage she is for us!

The rest of the story is well known. God hears Hannah’s prayer and visits her and gives her a son. Like Sarah before her and Mary ahead of her, she has no ordinary child.

Hannah will name her son Samuel, because she “asked for him from the Lord” (I Samuel 1:20). God would use Samuel to help end the corruption that was rampant in Israel at this time. Samuel would be a great prophet, priest, and kingmaker.

Hannah was a woman of great faith. She knew that a sovereign God could give her a son if it was His will. She promised to give her child back to God in gratitude for blessing her. Later, the son of the man whom Samuel would anoint to be king would say, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). This is one lesson we can learn from Hannah – All good things come from God and we should show our gratitude.

We must also admire the courage of Hannah. An immature or less pious woman would have likely turned into a nag. Sympathetic people would find it hard to blame Hannah if she turned on Peninnah and made her life as miserable as she could. How many women would find fault with her if she had retorted to Elkanah’s less than helpful remark about her childlessness with, “Well, that’s fine for you to tell me to cheer up. You have everything you want. If you really loved me, you would have settled for what God has given us with me and not gone out and found another woman!”

But, Hannah was living on a different spiritual plain than most. She had put God first in her life. She truly desired to serve Him and was obedient to her calling as a wife. She rose above her situation and proved that she could handle whatever God would send her way. She was never disrespectful to her husband nor did she ever seek vengeance on the other wife.

God rewarded her faithfulness. In her faith and gratitude she welled up in praise for YHWH and gave us one of the most beautiful prayers in the Bible. (I Samuel 2:1-10). Now she no longer needed to weep over the cruel taunts of the other woman; she could “smile at her enemies”. In her beautiful prayer she told of God’s marvelous works and she anticipated the Messiah. It is very worthwhile to compare her prayer to that of Mary’s. (The “Magnificat” is found in Luke 1:46-55.) Both women were glad to let God use them in any way He wanted.

We all experience things in our lives that we don’t understand. Let us be like Hannah and trust God and wait on Him.

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Martha and Mary

“ Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

In the previous blog we talked about knowing our calling. I said that one way to know what God wants you to do is to think about what you are good at or what you enjoy doing. These things are likely the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given you. This should help you determine how God wants you to serve Him.

Two women in the Bible who exemplify the unique differences in personality and calling are Martha and Mary. Their story is very popular and most of us readily understand that they chose to serve Christ in different ways. Martha was very concerned about being a good hostess. Mary wanted to listen at Jesus’ feet. Martha was likely the elder sister and was in charge of taking care of everyone’s needs. There was nothing wrong with what she was doing. In the sermons we hear, it is usually noted that her timing was bad. Usually the message we get from our pastors is that listening to Christ and worshiping Him are more important than our works. I agree with all of that, but I wanted to point out something deeper in the actions of these two women that is very much dependent on their individual callings.

We learn about Martha and Mary from the three occasions when they are with Jesus. In Luke’s Gospel we see the account of a dinner party at their home in Bethany (Luke 10:38-42). In John’s Gospel we will meet them again at the tomb of their younger brother, Lazarus. Jesus would raise His friend from the dead (John 11). Then later, at the home of Simon the leper, where everyone was probably celebrating the resurrection of Lazarus, Martha is again serving. Mary took a pound of extremely costly perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair (John 12:1-11).  Matthew and Mark also give an account of a woman, though not named, who anointed Jesus for His burial. The details in the accounts point to the fact that this woman was probably Mary (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9).

As the eldest sibling in the family, Martha was the one who invited Jesus into their home and welcomed Him. She was a consummate hostess and her hospitality was impeccable. She seemed to be gifted with the ability to organize and to make all of her guests feel comfortable. Jesus certainly came right in and sat down and started making conversation with the other guests. Being able to make others feel so much at home is an admirable trait. We might feel sympathetic with her when she found herself doing all of the work. But, this is what she was gifted for and called to. Her only mistake, which was very gently pointed out to her by Jesus, was that she worried about her chores too much. Taking a little time out for the Lord when He was right there with her was more important.

The one who overheard this admonition and took it to heart was Mary. She had “chosen the good part” and devoted her whole attention to Jesus. Sitting at His feet she learned much from Him. She took in His every word and she comprehended it, even better than the disciples. Mary was gifted with the discernment to understand the significance of Jesus’ words. The Lord would speak of His coming death to the disciples several times in the coming months but they would not understand or believe it. Peter even exclaimed to Jesus, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You” (Matt. 16:22).

We know from the story of when Mary poured the alabaster jar of costly perfume on Jesus’ head that she understood what Jesus was telling them. At this time in the Lord’s life, the chief priests and elders of the people were plotting to kill Him. Jesus had again, for at least the third time, told the disciples that He must be arrested and crucified. They still didn’t get it.

When Mary anoints Jesus’ head and feet with the oil, she is showing her gratitude to Him for her own salvation and for saving the life of her brother. She also seems to understand that Jesus’ time on earth is near an end. She had been attentive to the Lord’s teaching. God had blessed her with understanding. In this story as in all the stories about the incredible women in the New Testament, the women seem to be more intuitive and responsive to the Lord’s words.

The disciples complain about the “waste” of the costly perfume. They wanted to sell it and give it to the poor. We know that Judas had selfish motives for wanting to stop her. He was in charge of the moneybox and was a thief. But Jesus cut through all of the commotion and said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me” (John 12:7,8).

There is something interesting to note here. See how the disciples are more concerned with doing some kind of a work to please God. Compare this to Martha, who was also concerned with her works to please God. Now, works are good. We cannot say we have true faith without them. But Jesus had already made a point about what is more important – that is to worship Him.

There is also a similarity in the lesson that Jesus is teaching Martha and His disciples. Each was concerned with what was going on at that immediate time. Jesus wanted them to see that eternal issues are more important. Martha had to learn that being with Jesus while He was there was the better part. The disciples had to realize that what Mary did had more significance than what they understood. Mary’s blessing from God was that she was able to understand.

We see again in this incident how Mary “chose the better part”. Mary was so totally devoted to Christ, she was so in tune with His teaching, she was so intent on showing her love for Him that the only thing she could think of was worshiping Him. In her home she did this by listening at His feet. At Simon’s home, she did this by pouring the very costly perfume on His head. Jesus made a point to say that wherever the Gospel was preached, her action would be spoken of. He couldn’t have made it any clearer that love and devotion for Him must come first in our lives.

And so Martha and Mary both used their gifts to serve the Lord. We cannot say that one woman was better than the other. Perhaps we can learn a lesson from Martha’s weakness, but both women loved Christ passionately. They both responded to Him using the talents and abilities they were given. I pray that we will as women learn to serve Christ with the gifts He has given us with as much devotion.

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