Do You Need Other Christian Women?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
I’ve been thinking a lot about these verses. We often use them as a conviction card, throwing it in the face of Christians who refuse to go to church. And while this certainly applies to them, we forget it’s application to our own hearts.
A Christian can, indeed, attend church while simultaneously disobeying this command. We may meet together on Sunday, and then ignore virtually everyone while remaining in our own little bubble for the rest of the week. In fact, many people do this.
I’ve written in the past about how utterly needy we are as Christians, and how Jesus has provided not only his physical body, but his Body, the Church, for our needs.
READ: Are You Needy Enough?
When we don’t recognize our need, we disobey both the command to reach out to others for help and the command to help others. (James 5:16). I think there are a few reasons we do this.
1. Pride or fear of man.
The most obvious reason people don’t reach out for help in their walk with the Lord is pride.
It takes major humility to say, “I need help.” and even more humility to tell someone why.
I know I could grow in the humility department and I’ll bet you could too. We want to look perfect to others, and that causes us to care more about what people think rather than what God thinks. Boy, do we have that backwards! God, the holy and righteous Creator of everything, has forgiven those in Christ for every sin we have committed or will commit. We need not fear a mere human’s opinion of us. They are just that…human–like us. A sinner, like you and me.
2. Self reliance.
Often times, we downplay a sin struggle in our lives. We convince ourselves that we don’t really need help because we can figure it out on our own. This is just another form of pride.
Many times, we are be blind to the root issue of our sin. In those times, it’s helpful to have another believer who is able to check our blind spots. On multiple occasions, I have met with a wise friend or mentor and told them what I was wrestling against, in which they pointed out a possible root issue I had yet to consider. This made it easier to see the full diagnosis rather than trying to tackle the issue from the symptoms.
Surely, there are times when we just need to wrestle a little longer until God reveals truth to us. But if you are continually falling back into the same struggle, you need help finding the root and God has provided the believers in your life for that purpose.
It’s crucial that we recognize our need for Jesus’ Body, the Church.
3. Fear of rejection.
I get pretty overwhelmed with my own sin and I have come to realize that I pretty much need women constantly telling me truth. I can be quite forgetful of God’s goodness toward me.
A couple years ago, I was in a season of feeling like a mentor relationship was missing. I reached out and reached out but it seemed everyone was just too busy. There were times where I needed to work through some really painful thoughts and feelings and it felt as if no one had time for me. I was frustrated and started to wonder if I should give up on seeking help.
If you’re there, I want to tell you to keep reaching out. Sometimes, God takes us through seasons where he wants us to work through pain or sin with him alone, and he uses that to grow us. But in his timing, he will provide women around you to speak into your struggle his words of life.
People are busy and we have to learn to be okay with hearing that as a response, trusting that the Lord will provide either someone else or himself for our need. That being said, I think we all need to take a look at our schedules and reevaluate priorities from time to time. We are called to teach other women the word and if we are neglecting to do so we need to make room. (Titus 2:3-5).
Open Your Arms
Women both young and old need each other. Each Christ following lady in our life has wisdom they can offer us. And we have wisdom to offer others as well. None of us are exempt; we all need one another.
Older ladies, you may be thinking, “But younger girls don’t want to hear what I have to say.” That could be correct about some of us, but not all of us. Personally, I love to be around women that are in a further life stage than myself. I want to soak up every ounce of wisdom that I can. I’m certain I’m not the only one. Furthermore, it is a command that you teach younger women regardless of how you think they might respond. (Titus 2:3-5).
Younger women, you aren’t exempt from this either. There are women around you who are younger in their faith that you can pour into. You also don’t have to wait for an older gal to seek you out. The statement, “But older women are supposed to reach out to me.” is true, but there’s nothing in the bible that says you have to wait to be sought out. If you see wisdom in a woman you know, ask her if you can meet her for coffee or come help her with housework. It’s in the simple things that we can glean much wisdom from those around us.
This takes effort doesn’t it? Sometimes, we would rather just hide in our closets and focus solely on our personal relationship with the Savior. But God calls us to love our brothers and sisters also. We can’t do that if we keep hiding. When we let go of all our pride and fear of man, the Body will be free to build each other up in Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4:11-16).
This is my call to women to reach out. Whether it’s reaching out for help or reaching out to help, extend your arms! There is healing and sanctification to be grasped. You don’t have to struggle alone against sin and you don’t have to let someone else struggle alone.
Who will you strive side by side with today? Whose burden can you pick up?
Don’t Envy the Wicked
I recently wrote about how comparison kills friendships within the Church. But what about when our hearts envy those outside of the Body? Should we handle it the same way? Is it okay to envy nonbelievers?
Both psalmists, Asaph and David, walked through some of the feelings we may have when we’re tempted to envy those who don’t serve Christ. And boy did they leave behind some major wisdom in their words for us to apply to our hearts today.
Always at Ease
Asaph starts us off with words that pull on my heart strings.
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. (Psalm 73:3-5 ESV)
Have you ever felt that way? You stare at your seemingly empty hands and look up to see those who spurn God’s name receiving what you want. I have. There are times when our lives are filled with pain as we watch nonbelievers walk happily in their sin. They seem to be, “always at ease, ” while we are suffering. Bitterness takes root, and we begin to say with Asaph,
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. (Psalm 73:13-14 ESV)
If God loves his children, why does he sometimes withhold from us what he gives to children of wrath? This question captivates our mind, as our hearts grow resentful toward God and ignorant to the truth. (Psalm 73:21-22). This is why David warns us to, “fret not” and, “be not envious” multiple times in Psalm 37.
Because the truth is, no earthly blessing could compare with what the Children of God inherit. Nothing compares to Christ.
Discerning Their End
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17 ESV)
It can be difficult for our futile minds to comprehend the ways of the Lord. Asaph acknowledges the weariness of the endeavor to do so. But then the Lord reminded him of the end of those who don’t love God.
So, what is their, “end”? We see in Psalm 73 that God lifts up the prideful to slippery places so that they fall to ruin. He plans to destroy them. (Psalm 73:18-19). The Young’s Literal Translation says God even despises their image. (vs. 20). David reminds us of the end of the wicked in Psalm 37 as well. There we find that they will fade like the grass, shall be cut off and will perish. (Psalm 37:2, 9, 20).
This knowledge should move us from envy to great compassion for the lost. They may have an abundance here on earth, but all of that will fade, and they will be left with nothing but eternal damnation, away from the presence of God.
Oh friends, why on earth would we envy them?
He is Our Portion
We have been given a treasure more beautiful than anything this world has to offer–one that will never fade or be stolen from us. (Romans 8:35-39). We have salvation in Jesus and all that is his. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! (Ephesians 1:3-14).
We must dwell on this treasure, learning to desire Jesus more than any earthly thing. Only then will we be equipped to have compassion for the lost rather than envy. Because the truth of our inheritance will be so ingrained in our hearts, we will know that we have something much more precious–that those other things aren’t worth fretting over.
Let us learn to trust in the Lord, befriend faithfulness, delight in him, commit our way to him, and be still before him. (Psalm 37:3-7). When we trust and treasure him, we will become truly mindful of the gift he’s given us in himself. He is our portion and the only one who satisfies our souls. (Psalm 73:26). We need nothing and no one else.
For What Would You Trade Him?
Tell me friend, would you trade him for a child, for a relationship, for many vacations? Would you trade him for money, a bigger house, beauty or fame?
All that you desire could never come close to the preciousness and beauty of Jesus. No husband, baby, or amount of money could compare with the riches found in Christ.
Furthermore, without knowledge of him, all earthly gifts lose their value. Only when we can see those gifts as arrows pointing us to deeper love and worship of him, will we cherish them correctly. And only when we truly recognize Jesus for the treasure he is, will we be able to put off envy and put on gratefulness in any circumstance.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else has, because we have Jesus, and he is all our hearts need. He is MORE than enough.
Comparison Killed The Friendship
I’ve been learning a lot about the art of rejoicing with others lately. And I’m learning it as I walk through a painful loss in my own life. As I watch friends and family receive what was taken from me, temptation weighs heavy upon my shoulders. It’s a temptation most of us wrestle with and many of us give in to.
I recently wrote about how comparison is really just a glorified word for envy. Comparison comes from a covetous heart. It’s a heart that says, “I want what she has.” or, “Why didn’t God give me that too?”
And it’s damaging to a friendship.
Why Not Me?
At some point in every friendship, there will be one gal who receives what the other has been dreaming of. Whether its a husband, a baby, another baby or an opportunity you want, she has it, and you don’t. And it’s hard.
Our hearts naturally curve toward envy. When this happens, something rises up within us (sin perhaps?) that makes us feel as though God has been unjust–that he’s slighted us in some way. If our friend got what we want, don’t we deserve it too?
Unfortunately, the bible isn’t too keen on our envious thoughts…
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV, emphasis mine)
Furthermore, no, we don’t deserve anything good from God because we are totally depraved. (Romans 3:11-12).
In order to put off envy and truly be happy for our friends, we must have a correct theology of God’s goodness and sovereignty over our lives. We must develop a trust in him that runs so deep into our being, it causes us to recognize that what God gives and what he withholds is his ultimate best for our lives.
If your friend receives that positive pregnancy test after your miscarriage, that is his goodness to you both.
If your friend receives a diamond ring at 22, while you look at your bare finger and yet another year of singleness, that is his goodness to you both.
We will never move past the temptation to compare our lives with others until we have a solid trust in our good Father who always chooses the best way and the best gifts–even the ones that don’t look so good to us.
READ: Reconciling God’s Goodness With Our Suffering
Rejoicing With Your Sisters
It takes strength that is not our own to rejoice with a friend in her receiving of what we want or what has been taken from us. Thankfully, the strength we need is found in Christ, and he longs to transform us by his power into women who can truly rejoice over the gifts of another.
He enables us to have true joy in our hearts for our friend even as our hearts are breaking.
He doesn’t call us to pretend we aren’t hurting. He draws us near, and asks us to bring our sorrow, grief, weariness and confusion to him. And then to simultaneously be overjoyed for the gifts he’s given others. And we can do this, by his grace.
There’s Much At Stake
In my group of friends at church, I am one of two couples who haven’t had children yet. This didn’t use to bother me, until I lost our baby through miscarriage. Now, the emptiness of not only my womb, but my arms as well, have become a burden I bear every Sunday. Recently, a few of my friends stood, babies in hand, chatting about motherhood, as I stood in a corner fighting back tears. Though they were doing absolutely nothing wrong, instead of rejoicing with them, I felt bitterness grip my heart and envy fill my veins.
Thankfully, the Lord cut through the sin in my heart and reminded me of truth. He guided me back to a place where my heart was willing and ready to worship him for his gifts to others.
If I had not listened to his call to repent, if I had stuffed the conviction down, envy would have destroyed my friendships. My feelings, which turned to thoughts, would have sooner turned to hate-filled words, and then harmful actions.
I would have isolated myself, avoided them, not celebrated with them and eventually the relationships would have dwindled away.
Comparison kills friendships.
This is the way sin works. It breeds death to everything around us.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 ESV)
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2 ESV)
Friends, we have to learn to rejoice with our sisters in Christ even as our hearts break. There is so much at stake. Even the very picture of the Gospel. We are the Body of Christ, and it is not a suggestion, but a command to both bear each other’s burdens and rejoice together.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15 ESV)
When we praise God with a girl who is receiving what has been withheld from us, we show Christ to the world. We show how the Gospel can transform sinners into a people who truly weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. A people who love others more than themselves. A people following in the footsteps of Christ.
And in doing so, we will build thriving friendships that point others to Jesus.