So on the 8th of March the World celebrated International Women’s Day in recognition of women who have moved and shaken the world – past and present.
I want to reflect on International Women’s Day from a different perspective, I want to take us back to the beginning, when God was with Adam in the Garden of Eden and said to Adam, you are not really happy, are you? You are not really complete are you? Go and look among all the creatures that I have already created and see if you can find a companion. By the time Adam had named all the animals, it was pretty clear that none could be a suitable counterpart.
“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2, 21-23).
And why am I going back here? Because I want to remind us women that from the beginning, we were formed for a purpose. We were formed to do great things, Adam could not exist without a woman. But let’s not kid ourselves, because the reverse is also true, Eve could not have existed without Adam.
However, as women we need to be mindful of our purpose here on earth. Let us not make the same mistakes that Eve made. In the creation story, Eve is the main character, a mover and a shaker, she is portrayed as being fiercely independent and strong-minded. But in retrospect, the outcome of her actions, could probably also warrant the descriptions either of arrogance or naivety?
What I want us to do is to look into ourselves and analyse who we are as women, individually and collectively. It doesn’t matter whether you are married or single, I want you to recognise that your purpose on this earth is very, very significant.
In Proverbs chapter 31, verses 10 – 31, we see the definition of a what a strong, virtuous woman should be like. They include characteristics such as trustworthiness, resourcefulness, foresight, industriousness, generosity, domestic skills, business skills and fear of God.
Don’t bother about the skeptics who ridicule the definition, as being just a wife skivvy. If you are or are striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman, you will know that you are anything but. You will know, that as the Proverb itself states, “you, woman, are far more precious than jewels”.
Ruth is one of those women who epitomises a Proverbs 31 woman. (summary credited to http://www.bible-topten.com/heroines.htm#RUTH)
Ruth had the good sense to listen to someone older and wiser than herself, and most of us women could learn a lot from her.
But her common sense is not the only reason the story is popular. Ruth was loyal to someone who needed her (her mother in law Naomi) and had been good to her in the past, even when the sensible thing would have been to cut and run. It turned out to be the right decision.
Naomi was financially destitute but she was street-wise, with a remarkable knowledge of the world and of men in particular. This proved more valuable than money. She told Ruth how to go about prodding Boaz, an eligible bachelor, into proposing – a skill that many young women today would like to learn. Ruth recognized good advice when she heard it, and acted accordingly.
Are all the women in the bible Proverb 31 Women?
Far from it! There were some women in the Bible that might not have been able to tick all the boxes of a Proverb 31 woman, but who in their own special way did fantastic things for their family and their communities. Consider the following (summaries credited to www.womeninthebible.net):
Sarah (Genesis 11 – Genesis 22)
Sarah’s life was blighted by the lack of a son. In a society that measured women’s worth by their fertility, Sarah was barren. In a spirit of noble self-sacrifice she offered her slave Hagar as surrogate mother to her husband Abraham. The plan back-fired: Hagar bore a son, Ishmael, and her status shot up in the tribe; Sarah became even more despised.
God came to Sarah’s rescue. She conceived a son, Isaac, whom she loved with the protective ferocity of a lioness. She became the foremother of the Jewish nation. (There are some Jeremy Kyle moments in this story, but you will have to read it yourself to get the gist!)
Rebecca (Genesis 24; Genesis 25:19-34; Genesis 27)
The woman who deceived and got the better of her dying husband – not a comfortable subject. People would prefer to read about characters who are clearly good or bad, with no ambiguities in their behavior. But this is not how people really are, and this is one of the stories in the bible that shows the good and bad in all human nature.
The story of Rebecca makes it clear that women can feel ambition, love greatly, deceive, and be self-sacrificing. Rebecca was a leader of people and an organizer of the future who used the abilities she had in the best way that she could.
The illustrations above are aimed directly at each one of us. Let us strive to be the best woman that we can be, not just on International Women’s day but every day – the world needs us!
P.S. There are many more stories of brave, courageous, humane women in the bible, you will find some of the stories rather juicy too! So get reading … http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/
Copyright 2012 Cay Moore
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