girltalk Blog

Jun 17

We All Strive for the Prize, But it isn’t a Competition

2013 at 11:17 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

In our frenetic society we are already so busy with homework, jobs, and families, that the five good works in 1 Timothy 5:9-10 may feel overwhelming.

But we must remember that Paul was talking about what these widows had accomplished throughout their lifetime, not all at once. Giving themselves wholeheartedly to good works no doubt looked different at various times in their lives.

For moms of small children, you are applying this verse every day, all day. As my husband often says “no one has a harder job than a mom with young kids.” This statement felt true to me when I had little ones, and now that I am watching my daughters mother their children, it rings more true than ever.

You may not be the first to show up in a crisis or do the most hospitality, but you are washing little feet all day as you humbly serve your family. I pray you know God’s pleasure in your faithful service. It is pleasing to him, and even though no one else may see, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:4).

I also know women who are eager to do good works, but despair because of limitations such as sickness, aging, a disability or a crisis. If you feel, “put on the shelf” as Charles Spurgeon vividly described it, then take his advice and pray for others. For there is “no greater kindness” you can do for someone. You may not be able to serve others in physically demanding ways, but you can still bring honor to the Savior through good works.

We all have different capacities and gifts, and so we must resist the temptation to compare. This is not a competition. Every woman who sincerely serves the Savior gives glory to God. It all comes down to one question: Do I strive for a reputation of good works in order to reflect the Savior’s Good Work?

And remember this: When all is said and done, after we have spent and been spent doing good works, we must, as one wise man once said, make a heap of all our good works and all our bad works and flee them both to Christ.

Jun 13

A Reputation for Good Works

2013 at 9:41 am   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Tim. 5:9-10)

What are gospel-glorifying good works exactly? Jerry Bridges calls them “deliberate deeds that are helpful to others.” They are tangible acts of kindness that serve and bless others and proclaim our Savior’s goodness.

In 1 Timothy 5:9–10 Paul gives counsel to Timothy about widows, but in so doing, sets the standard for godly women by describing a lifestyle of self-sacrifice. The godly woman grasps the sobering fact that “God’s reputation is at stake in [her] public profession” of godliness.

She desires to be known for good works because she longs for God’s Good Work to be known.

Every Christian woman should strive to have a reputation for good works. There are no good works specialists. This is not for the gifted or enthusiastic few. We all must raise our hands to volunteer. All of us can do good works, for God has called all of us to do good works.

And as Jerry Bridges put it, good works are “deliberate.” We don’t fall into them or stumble upon them. We must choose to practice good works. In First Timothy, the apostle Paul provides us five categories of good works.

These five examples of good works in 1 Timothy 5 are not exhaustive, nor are they to be applied exhaustively. But they characterize the woman who has a reputation for good works. To get a picture of this woman of good works let’s look briefly at each example.

Brought Up Children. The heart’s desire of a godly woman is to raise her children to honor and serve the Savior. To that end, a mother should give herself to bringing up her children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). A woman who doesn’t bear children can be a godly influence on children in her church and community, and care for orphans. Bringing up children to serve the Lord is precious to our Savior who said “let the little children come to me” (Matt. 19:14).

Shown Hospitality. This is a home-based good work. To show hospitality means “meeting the needs of others through the use of one’s resources, specifically in and through the context of the home.” The godly woman practices hospitality by having people into her home, giving refuge and refreshment, and by taking meals and resources from her home to others.

“The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God,” writes John Piper. The hospitable woman desires to reflect Christ’s hospitality. Regardless of the size of her home or her budget she wants to extend to others the unmerited love and grace that she first received from the Savior.

Washed the Feet of the Saints. Foot washing was an essential but menial task in ancient times, as everyone’s feet were either muddy or dusty from the roads. It was a chore usually reserved for household servants. So to wash the feet of the saints meant to be a humble servant, to take on the tasks no one else wanted to do. In other words, the godly woman is willing to take on the dirty jobs, the lowly jobs, and the unattractive jobs. When we serve others, we follow the example of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet: “For she has done a beautiful thing to me,” Jesus said (Matt. 26:10). And so he says to us when we humbly serve the saints.

Cared for the Afflicted. The godly woman is like a nurse in a hospital, on call, ready to help the suffering—whether they are afflicted physically, mentally, or emotionally. To do this good work we must draw near to that which is raw, ugly, difficult, and painful. In so doing we properly reflect our Savior’s reputation as one who is “acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3), “near to the brokenhearted” (Ps. 34:18), “comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor. 1:4), and is “a very present help in time of trouble” (Ps. 46:1).

Devoted to Every Good Work. If you had to describe her in a sentence, you would say that the godly woman “has at all times thrown her whole heart into good deeds.” We are to, as someone once said: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”

Jun 11

Reflecting Christ in Summertime

2013 at 12:12 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Beauty | Good Works

Here are a few summer time activity ideas from the Apostle Paul. Even though these were originally written about a specific group of women, they should describe us all:

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Tim. 5:9-10)

These good works don’t comprise a checklist; they describe the godly woman’s character. She has a reputation for good works.

But some may be concerned—if we focus on good works do we run the risk of taking something away from the glory of the gospel?

Scripture says the opposite: good works bring glory to God and adorn the gospel.

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” the Savior instructed in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:16).

When people see our good works: “They will ask, ‘What is it? Why are these people so different in every way…?” writes Martyn Lloyd-Jones. “And they will be driven to the only real explanation which is that we are the people of God, children of God…We have become reflectors of Christ.”

Scripture emphasizes the importance of good works for all Christians and for women in particular in 1 Peter 3:6, Titus 2:3–5, 1 Timothy 5:9–10, and in Proverbs 31:31. This last passage ends with the exclamation, “let her works praise her in the gates.”

In fact, in 1 Timothy 2:10, God tells us that good works are “proper for women who profess godliness.” Robert Spinney explains that this phrase means:

[T]o make a public announcement or to convey a message loudly. Our lives make public announcements. The godly woman’s public announcement must consist of good works, not questionable clothing….The implication here is that both good works and improper clothing have a Godward element: one provokes men to praise God while the other encourages men to demean Him….God’s reputation is at stake in our public professions. God’s glory is more clearly seen when we abound in good works, but it is obscured and misunderstood when we make public announcements with improper clothing.

Good works do not distract from the gospel or undermine the gospel, they are essential to our gospel proclamation. They promote Christ’s reputation and they bring glory to God.

Doing gospel-centered good works means that we don’t rely on those good works for our righteousness before God or our forgiveness from him. We are accepted before God only because of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We are able to stand before God only because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

We do good works, not in order to receive the gospel, but because we have received the gospel. Let’s consider what specific ways we can reflect Christ this summer!

Apr 15

Washing the Feet of the Saints

2013 at 9:23 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

“Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:9-10

Washing the feet of the saints. How do I perform this good work? All of the other good works in this verse seem realistic and doable; but bathing a fellow-Christian’s dirty, smelly feet seems a little outlandish.

Actually, it’s really not all that peculiar. And most likely we are carrying out this good work already. All we need is an explanation of what foot-washing really means in order to know if we are fulfilling this task.

This is where biblical commentators can help us out, and Pastor John MacArthur does just that in his commentary on First Timothy (p. 208). He provides both the context and clarification for a widow having “washed the feet of the saints:”

That menial task was the duty of slaves. Since the roads were either dusty or muddy, guests entering a house had their feet washed. Paul does not necessarily mean that she actually did that herself each time. The menial task of washing the feet spoke metaphorically of humility (Jn. 13:5-17). The requirement, then, stresses that a widow have a humble servant’s heart. She gives her life in lowly service to those in need.

So, we see that “washing the feet of the saints” is a willingness to give ourselves to any menial task that would serve another Christian in need. That’s the idea behind this particular good work. It involves doing the humblest, most menial, and sometimes even downright dirty tasks in service of others. It could be making a bed for a person who is ill or scrubbing toilets for a woman with an extra-heavy workload, or changing a diaper to help out a mother with small children.

We should never think we are above doing these “foot-washing” kind of jobs. Neither should we underestimate their significance. Even the grubbiest of tasks are holy, if done for the glory of Jesus Christ. After all, didn’t our Savior Himself stoop to wash the feet of his disciples? We should consider it an honor to do dirty jobs for Him.

*From the archives

Dec 18

From One Mom to Another: Don’t Grow Weary

2012 at 1:38 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works | Motherhood | Parenting Young Children

Our Aunt Betsy (Ricucci) is our dad’s sister and one of the most encouraging people you will ever meet. On Sunday at church she passed on some very encouraging motherhood advice to me, and then followed up with an email yesterday. It was too good not to post. While I wish all of you could be in the same church with Aunt Betsy to receive her specific and godly encouragement each week, I hope every mother who is seeking to diligently teach her children to obey will receive these encouraging words as “just for you.”

Hi Nicole!

I just wanted to clarify my quick encouragement to you yesterday. I had seen Janelle earlier and encouraged her as a mom and she said I should tell you too, so I tried!

As your mom said to me multiple times when I was a young mom: Don’t grow weary of the well doing on behalf of your wee ones! Every time you deny or disappoint their selfishness, no matter their response, is a win for you and ultimately a win for them! Don’t evaluate your mothering success by their response to your training initially, but by the fact that true biblical love looks out for their ultimate best interest. And their best interest is not to have selfishness rewarded but denied and overcome. (And isn’t that true of us too?!) So just know, when you must say “no” for the kiddos best good and their response may be wailing, you can have a biblical perspective that some sin has been wounded but their souls ultimately helped! This is true, biblical, sacrificial love that truly considers the greatest good of others. And those others are the precious lives of your children!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal.6:9 This verse has always encouraged me so much! The promise of reaping a good harvest is not dependent upon the perfections of the good we do (we fail so often don’t we?!) but simply in not giving up. And I must depend upon His faithfulness to not give up. But, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” I Thess. 5:24

May God reward your faithful mothering with an awareness of His nearness, His working, His goodness and His faithfulness above all else.

Love you so very much!

Aunt B

Mar 6

Good Works To Do

2009 at 2:32 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

As we learned yesterday, the godly woman is to be devoted to good works.

Now, by good works, Paul doesn’t mean actions that make us acceptable to God. We are only able to stand before God because of the righteousness of Christ. Rather, these good works are what Jerry Bridges calls, “deliberate deeds that are helpful to others” (The Practice of Godliness, p. 232). They are acts of kindness that are evidence of our salvation.

And the woman who is devoted to good works reflects glory back to God. As John Stott explains, “It is when people see these good works that they will glorify God, for they embody the good news of his love which we proclaim” (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 62).

Now we haven’t been left to guess what good works we are supposed to do. God has already given us a “to do list.”

Among other things, they include:

Bringing up children
Showing hospitality
Washing the feet of the saints
Caring for the afflicted

To close, enjoy this video about one woman’s devotion to good works.

Dorothy

Sep 14

A Babysitter, A Friend

2006 at 5:22 pm   |   by Kristin Chesemore Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works | Friendship

Auntkgirls011 Twenty-five years ago a single woman named Kathy Houghton came into our home for a church hospitality. After just a few hours, my sister and I were so attached to her that shortly thereafter my parents asked if she would babysit us on a regular basis. From then on Aunt Kathy—as we began to call her—became a part of our family. I remember her not just as a babysitter: she was our “fun coordinator,” constantly planning creative outings. An evening with Aunt Kathy was always a memorable event. Fast-forward a few years. Aunt Kathy married a godly man named John. Together they adopted three beautiful children: Gabe, Joe, and Amanda. Then it was Nicole’s and my turn to fill the babysitter position, although I’m not sure we were ever quite as fun as Aunt Kathy! For the past eighteen years we have had the privilege of watching these young children become godly teenagers. 100_0560_1 Today, the babysitting role has changed hands once again, and now Amanda sits for my boys. My kids always have a blast when she comes over. They affectionately call her “De-da.” Though my mom, being the wonderful grandma that she is, watches the boys for our date night, Amanda makes it possible for me to serve alongside Brian in various ministry responsibilities. Kathy’s willingness to serve our family all those years ago built lasting ties between her family and ours. As a single woman, she opted to give up precious free time in order to care for three little girls. The ultimate outcome was a special friendship between Kathy, my mom and us girls. And now that friendship extends to her daughter Amanda and my children. So who can you serve today? You never know—it might just be the start of a life-long friendship.

May 5

A Model of Good Works

2006 at 5:54 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

DorothyWe want to conclude our series on good works by introducing you to one woman who has “devoted herself to every good work.” Dorothy Reifner used to be a beloved member of Covenant Life Church. However, a few years back she and her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to participate in a Sovereign Grace Ministries church plant there. During my recent visit to North Carolina to speak at the Encounter’06 Conference, I had the privilege of seeing Dorothy again as her church participated in this event. On the second day of the conference, to Dorothy’s surprise and to the delight of the rest of us, we were treated to a video presentation of this dear saint’s life. There was not a dry eye in the auditorium by the time it concluded, for throughout this mini-biography, we heard from so many family and friends whose lives have been blessed by Dorothy’s faithful good works. And although most of you will never meet Dorothy Reifner this side of heaven, we trust you will be inspired by her life.

You can download the video by clicking here. It may take a few (up to fifteen!) minutes, but it’s worth the wait!

(If you are on a Macintosh, the Windows Media Player is a free download.)

May 4

Run!

2006 at 8:45 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

Now that we’ve spent two weeks exhorting you (and ourselves!) to have a reputation for good works, I want to give a warning. Run! Run away from them as fast as you can!

No, I’m not contradicting everything Janelle said earlier today about being devoted to good works. I’m in full agreement with Scripture: we should give every last drop of energy to doing good works.

But, I know how it happens with me.

After I’ve done a good work, I want to add it to my collection. I put it on my soul’s mantle and I polish it and step back to admire it. What a godly woman I am for doing such a good work! How nice it was to receive the thanks and appreciation of others! What a noble, self-sacrificing person I am!

When I’m thinking like this, I’ve so missed the point.

Good works are not an occasion for self-congratulation. They are a reason to marvel, once again, at my Savior. Only because of the blood that Jesus shed on the cross are my sins forgiven—not because of any good work I have done or will do. Only His grace motivates me to a life of good works. Only because of Christ’s mercy are my good works pleasing to the Father. Only His power sustains me for a lifetime of good works to His glory.

Instead of exalting in my good works, I should be reveling in the Good Work of Christ that has totally transformed my life.

I must follow the example of one David Dickson who said: “I make a heap of all my bad works and all my good works and I flee them both to Christ.”

Yes, I should devote my life to good works in order to bring honor to my Savior. But at the end of the day, I must remember that it is only because of my Savior that these good works are pleasing to God. And I must flee all my good works and run to Christ.

May 4

Devotion to Every Good Work

2006 at 3:50 pm   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Good Works

“Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:9-10

This final phrase—“has devoted herself to every good work”—may appear, at first glance, to be a little vague. Kinda like what happens when I can’t come up with a concluding sentence for one of my posts, so I just tack on something nice-sounding but essentially meaningless.

Not the case here! There is nothing vague about this concluding remark. Paul is making a very clear point. In case we got the idea that we could check off one of each of these good works and qualify as a godly woman, Paul raises the stakes considerably. He says the godly woman is devoted to good works. As one commentary describes it, she is “energetically and diligently giving herself” to this stuff. I can imagine this woman constantly looking and listening, ready to serve upon discovery of the slightest need.

Do you remember the t-shirt that was popular a few years back with the slogan that read, “Life is Tennis (or Basketball or Fishing). Everything else is just details”? Well, here Paul is saying that the godly woman’s outlook is: “Life is being devoted to good works. Everything else is just details.”

Bringing up children, showing hospitality, caring for the afflicted—these aren’t things the godly woman does one time, like a community service requirement. Good works are what she is giving her life, energy, time, and heart to. Good works are what she is all about.

But there is one other word that makes this phrase even more powerful. Yep, it’s that little word “every.” Every, quite simply means every. It doesn’t mean some or most, but every. The godly woman doesn’t limit herself to good works that are easy, or get her the most attention, or are her top favorites. She practices good works of all kinds. And we can safely assume that they aren’t all pleasant.

Not such a vague phrase after all, huh?

I think John Wesley’s well-known quote expands nicely on what Paul is saying here.

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.”

Cause everything else? It’s just details.