God Didn’t Put You on the Sidelines

by | Apr 13, 2011 | Spirit-Led Living

Mighty womanTHE CHURCH HAS NOT ALWAYS RECOGNIZED THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS OF WOMEN. BUT GOD HAS FASHIONED THEM TO BE KEY PLAYERS IN HIS KINGDOM.

Let’s
imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All
the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with
exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men
possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other
hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an
army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for
efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness
would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest
being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life
at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her
daughters.

Women can nurture
their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female
adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a
loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the
most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women
are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their
children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in
the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the
seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over
the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

JESUS’ FIRST TEACHER
It
was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart
of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that
first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think
for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of
the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care
of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its
limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’
mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple.
No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder
for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened
disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered
at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured,
His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He
could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life
began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her
over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

WOMEN’S HALL OF FAME
Throughout
the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women
who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given
pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’
mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the
life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to
freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab
held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right
direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah
cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the
greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah
was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel
from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan.
Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his
leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla
and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been
preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that
in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage
signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

PILLARS OF THE EARLY CHURCH
One
of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years
is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s
population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men
engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women
inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However,
early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there
is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal.
3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla,
for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in
Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of
Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned
Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had
controlled Ephesus.

Throughout
the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the
faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith:
his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter
intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several
women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The
first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first
household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in
her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have
judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she
persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three
centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and
the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman,
Helena, the emperor’s mother.

EXTRAORDINARY SENSITIVITY
Women
have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying
that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely
more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most
powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He
told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John
11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living
water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when
Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe
these profound truths.

Women
also have the ability to express a greater range of emotions, an
ability which enables them to experience worship in a more intense way.
Many times female acts of worship are dismissed as emotional and
disruptive.

The men at Simon
the leper’s house who were watching the sublime act of worship of a
woman who was ministering to Jesus accused her of wasting a very
valuable flask of perfume. They judged her actions from a financial,
cost-effective perspective (see Mark 14).

But
Jesus rebuked these men and declared that she had exhibited great
spiritual foresight—she had prepared His body for the sepulcher. As He
anticipated His imminent betrayal and rejection, Jesus was overwhelmed
by sorrow.

His heart was
taxed with pain; He needed someone to minister to Him. It was a woman
who sensed the urgency and spent everything of value she had to comfort
Him.

Women in the church are
often accused of being excitable, but this is not necessarily true.
Eli, for example, accused Hannah of being drunk when in fact she was
genuinely broken before the Lord (see 1 Sam.1: 5-17).

Many
times God has turned to female generosity when needs have emerged in
His kingdom. Amid a terrible famine He sent Elijah to the house of a
widow to ask for everything she had—and she gave it to him! (See 1 Kin.
17.)

In another instance, a
group of women used their personal resources to support Jesus’ ministry
(see Luke 8:2-3). Interestingly, no man is explicitly identified in the
Gospels as a financial supporter of Jesus.

COURAGE UNDER FIRE
Women
in the Bible also showed remarkable courage, even risking their own
lives. On Resurrection morning, for instance, it was the women who
ventured out to visit Jesus’ tomb, even though as a “convicted criminal”
He was under constant military guard.

The
disciples, after seeing the same empty tomb, locked themselves up for
fear of the Jews (see John 20:19). Later, Thomas demanded tangible proof
of Jesus’ resurrection even though Jesus was standing right there!
Jesus was probably thinking of the women when He rebuked Thomas, saying,
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John
20:29).

By appearing first
to women on Resurrection Sunday, Jesus made them the first messengers,
the first evangelists, the first prophetesses, the first teachers and
the first witnesses of His resurrection. This was no small privilege!

In
my opinion, women are more prone to believe God and with greater ease
than men. They are following the example from Acts 12:12 when Mary,
mother of Mark, fearlessly hosted a large prayer meeting while Herod was
shedding apostolic blood all over town. Likewise, Lydia made her house
available to the entire church at a time of violent opposition (see Acts
16:40).

When God spoke,
Deborah had no doubt that God could deliver the Israelites from Sisera’s
army. Likewise, Mary stood firm in her faith that she could bear a
child despite being a virgin; and the women at the tomb, deep in sorrow,
accepted the resurrection message without hesitation.

IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE
For
far too long the devil has haunted women with a negative portrayal of
Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan wants Eve to be seen as the weak link,
the one who brought so much misery to the human race. Even though she
was deceived and fell into transgression, let us not miss an important
point: Eve was the one who identified the enemy!

In
spite of the shame she felt, Eve understood and described accurately
what had happened and who the instigator was, setting the stage for God
to announce the rematch.

Let
us be strengthened by the Genesis 3 passage and view it without the
distorting lens the enemy has used for so long. Like Eve, women know who
the enemy is. Furthermore, Satan knows that her seed will eventually
destroy him.

It is time for a
change. It is time for women to stop paying attention to Satan’s
demeaning remarks, so often channeled through those who look at the
exterior and miss the wealth stored inside them.

Women
do not need a human platform to be heard because God has given them
considerable spiritual height from which to speak. They are designed to
be influencers and shapers. No wonder God has called them to play key
roles in His strategic plans!

Read a companion devotional.

Ed Silvoso is founder and president of Harvest
Evangelism Inc. A native of Argentina, he is widely recognized as a
teacher on evangelism, restoration and church unity.

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