The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Therefore, the chief end of my life in particular is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, as a woman created in His image.
As women, we ought to wonder as we dig through Scripture: what is glory? How do I enjoy God? Is He enjoyable? Does He enjoy me? Are there distinct ways for the two sexes to glorify Him, in His image? (This quest can delight us for a lifetime!)
We wonder, as we dig through Scripture. Studying God’s Word is for us too, it is not a masculine pursuit. Mary chose the good thing–and it is written of her for all to see and understand: Jesus loves all His disciples, and teaches us and pours out His Spirit to anoint us–male and female.
For further reading on some of these questions I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’ “Weight of Glory” and John Owen’s “The Glory of Christ” and Jonathan Edwards’ “The End for Which God Created the World.”
Before I proceed further on the topic of Womanhood to the Glory of God, I offer you a quote from Sinclair Ferguson’s work titled “The Holy Spirit”:
The Spirit’s task is to restore glory to a fallen creation. As Calvin well says, this world was made as a theatre for God’s glory. Throughout it he displays visibly the perfections of his invisible nature. Particularly in man and woman, his image, that glory was to be reflected. But they refused to ‘glorify’ God (Rom. 1:21); they defiled the reflector (Rom. 1:28) and fell short of his glory (Rom. 3:23). But now, in Christ who is ‘the radiance of God’s glory’ (Heb. 1:3), that glory is restored. Having become flesh for us, he has now been exalted in our flesh yet in glory. The eschatalogical goal of creation has been consummated in him as its firstfruits. Now he sends his Spirit, the intimate companion of his entire incarnation, to recover glory in us. So it is that ‘we, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Cor. 3:18).Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, (Downers Grove, IL: InvterVarsity Press, 1996), page 91-92.
When we come to truly know Him, then we know that He delights in us, and we are assured that His love and delight are eternal, unchanging, steadfast. To glorify Him we bask in His love, abide in His love, muse upon His love, and in doing so we enjoy Him. We love Him because He first loved us. We love one another with that kind of love–free, unearned, rooted in Who God Is (John 13:34 and 15:12).
Man: Male and Female
“Man” as in “mankind” can glorify God in many ways. Yet, the created order was not done away with as time passed; God has not changed His mind on whether men and women are uniquely different. Therefore it follows that there remain uniquely feminine ways to image and glorify God. The Spirit may pour out the same gifts, but those gifts can be exercised differently. I’ll briefly look at just three femine ways to image God: helper, lifegiver, and use of giftings/callings.
Woman as “helper” is a role in which we uniquely image Him. The Hebrew word Ezer is also applied to God! We look to who God is as a helper, our Ultimate Helper. Where else do we look? From where does our Help come? When God gave Adam a helper it was a high calling, a glorious way to glorify Him. Woman is the very companion Man longed for. Take some time to meditate on these verses in which God describes Himself as a helper:
Exodus 18:4 Defends others
Ps 10:14 Cares for the oppressed
Ps 20:2 Supports others
Ps 33:20 Shields and protects others
Ps 70:5 Delivers others from distress
Ps 86:17 Comforts others
As you can tell from these verses, a helper is a robust and meaningful role in life. In Christ, our motivation for fulfilling this role is love. Desiring a return on our actions will taint them, and detract from the beauty and goodness that would have otherwise shone through our actions. Let His love constrain you as seek to carry out this calling. What ways have you been able to reflect God’s character as a helper recently?
Eve was called “lifegiver” before ever giving birth. This role is often fulfilled physically, but also spiritually. More important than whether we bear children is how women impact their communities as life-givers–injecting His Life into all the relationships we are in. Eve decided to trust Satan and became a life-taker. Likewise most of us struggle as we cling to our selfishness and pride rather than looking to the Spirit who will always lead us to be life-giving.
But God’s promise stands, and He redeems us to be real life-givers, though in our flesh we are all too often life-takers. The Spirit is at work in us, that in word and deed we may reflect His glory to one another. Jesus said His words are spirit and are life (John 6:63). As we abide in His word we are filled and can share His words (John 14:1-15:11). His life-giving words are always better than our snarky, shock-and-awe, careless words; or our pre-programmed, trite words. What sorts of conversations has the Lord led you to recently?
Helpers need help
Women are created this way, but only by God’s grace can we walk in this manner! Sin mars our ability to be helpers and lifegivers, but His redemption changes everything. He redeems us, fills us, He pours His life into us, His Spirit transforms us so that we become more and more like Him–which will enable us to glorify God as Helpers and Lifegivers in our families, in local churches, in our neighborhoods, communities, and anywhere else God calls us to interact with people.
We must “lose our life” in order to be a lifegiver to God’s glory. This flies in the face of the world’s ideologies, which is why Titus 2 explains so thoroughly that Biblical womanhood should be learned from generation to generation, face to face. Pen and ink, or in this case a blog, can be helpful–but face to face is necessary. We need our older sisters in the faith alongside us; and as we grow to become those older sisters we must embrace our younger sisters.
Spiritual Gifts and Callings
Romans 11 teaches us that His callings and giftings are irrevocable. I used to be so sure He gave me the gift of teaching. Nothing filled me with greater joy than to study, discuss, journal, plan, teach, and pray with those I taught… Yet, I thought this was a man’s calling, and man’s gifting. Partly due to professors in both my undergrad and Master’s programs telling me I was in a man’s major, or that I ought to focus on getting married and having babies.
I also struggled because I did not like all things “girly,” and most “women’s ministries” I had experienced were shallow. So shallow. There was very little Scripture. The Scriptures referenced were often taken out of context and twisted, and everyone rallied around the trials and tribulations of mascara running down your cheeks at the most inopportune times.
So I ran. I questioned. But still, I could not shake my love for God, His Word, His People, and the sense that He had called me a teacher. I found a comfy role teaching college students: pastoral counseling and discipleship and Bible Studies. But when I knew I wanted to stay home with my firstborn, I quit that job. Suddenly I wondered where I fit in; I did not know where the Lord would use me. I was unsure that raising children could be to the glory of God, or that I was up to the task. (I am thankful for Sally Clarkson’s books! Check out her blog, she is such an encouragement to women.)
Not too long after my firstborn came into the world, our small church began a Women’s Bible Study. I had spoken at events, but now found an outlet for teaching in an intimate setting. It was different than teaching a group of college aged girls only–it was my first experience teaching in a non-fragmented fellowship.
Oh how I love this weekly gathering. I love the fellowship, and I love the connection with my co-teacher. Each time I teach or facilitate an event with the women of our church I am grateful, over-joyed, delighted. The Lord has confirmed for me that I belong, I am His, I am where He wants me.
There are ways for women to use this gift and this calling for His glory. There are also ways for women to sin by pretending there are no distinctions between the sexes, or for thinking that God has changed His mind concerning the complementary roles of the sexes. I will not be teaching men in the church, but I am a teacher. I will submit to the elders, I am not alone and I am not in charge. I will not usurp my husband’s role in our home. I will not begrudge my brothers in Christ their unique callings. I am glad for the brothers-in-Christ who do not begrudge me of mine.
I will strive according to His power within me (Colossians 1) to glorify Him and enjoy Him, as His daughter. I will study to show myself approved, and will fan to flame the gift of God within me (2 Timothy). How are you using your Spiritual gifts, as a member of Christ’s Body, as a life-giver, as a helper, as a woman, to the glory of God?