Chapter 11 THE SINGLE WOMAN

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Alexander R. Hay

To the women of our congregations to whose faithful ministry so much is owed.

Chapter 11 THE SINGLE WOMAN 

Often we have been asked by both women and men to give some guidance from the Word of God regarding the ministry, or ministries, in which the single woman may engage. Single women, and single women missionaries in particular, have spoken of the need for their typical problems to be addressed.

We shall seek to deal with basic principles, making no attempt to enter into detail regarding the many ministries in which single women may engage. When these principles, clearly given in God’s Word, are understood and taken into account, the range and nature of the single woman’s participation in any form of ministry can be easily seen.

True Fulfillment is in God’s Will

What light does God’s Word give to the single woman regarding her place in the Church, the Body of Christ? In what sphere does God purpose that she should serve and in what ministries is it his purpose that she take part? The confusion regarding this matter has caused discouragement and loss to not a few, and yet in the Word of God we are not left without clear guiding principles which reveal the full provision which He has made for the life and service of all those who are his, of every individual, man and woman, who is born of the Spirit.

It must be clearly understood that while –marriage may be considered the normal order which God has purposed for both the man and the woman, the fact that a Christian woman is not married does not deprive her of the fullest usefulness in God’s service. It can be in God’s will for a woman that she be not married and in that case He has a purpose to fulfill through her that He wishes to be carried out by a single woman. He will use her as a woman in a ministry that will require all the qualities He has given her as a woman. The history of the Church provides many outstanding examples of such women, who, without losing in any way their femininity, but rather while manifesting it fully, have been greatly used of God in ministries that have been not secondary but vital to the carrying on of his work and witness.

Such women often have excelled in ministry that involved service to others as in orphanages, homes for single mothers, Gospel work in slums and shanty towns of great cities, or among the homeless children of the street, missionary work in foreign fields, etc. In such work all their womanly qualities were required and had full scope. There are many other avenues of service such as personal evangelism, preaching, teaching, among children, young people and adults, and the preparation and spreading of Gospel literature – in fact all of the usual activities of Christian witness.

The Choice Must Be God’s

It is necessary that every Christian, man or woman, single or married, keep clearly in mind a fact that has a profound significance for every member of the Church, the Body of Christ. It is stated in God’s Word as a basic truth that, “God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1 Cor. 12:18). “Each one” means what it says: God has a place in the Church, designated by him, for every true member of the Church from the moment of conversion. Paul is an example of this. On the way to Damascus when he was saved he said to the Lord, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The Lord answered, telling him that He was going to “send him far from here to the Gentiles.” Years of preparation intervened, but the day came when Paul entered fully into the place God had chosen for him. God has already chosen a place for every one and He will be faithful to reveal it to us and lead us into it, and we must be willing to accept his choice. His choice for each one has been guided by his perfect love, his perfect wisdom and his perfect knowledge of each one. This gives his child full ground for perfect confidence in him. His Word is full of promises and examples that make clear his faithfulness and power to guide, enable and fully bring to pass, step by step, all that which He has purposed for each one.

God’s Enablement

That the spiritual enablement is given to every believer in Christ, every member of the Body of Christ, without exception, is also made clear: “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all… But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).

This means that most certainly there will be given to each one by the indwelling Holy Spirit all that that one will need for the carrying out of God’s purpose in him or her. It will be noted that it is definitely stated that God works “as He wills” in appointing the believer’s place in the Body and that the Holy Spirit manifests himself through each believer “as He wills.” It is evident, therefore, that each one must most carefully seek to be certain of God’s will for his or her 1ife. The choice must be left to God alone in trustful and glad surrender. This requires full acceptance of the condition which the Lord laid down for His followers: “If any one desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

The follower of Christ must be willing as He was for God’s will, must be “on the altar” as He was and must believe as He did in God’s perfect wisdom and absolute power (Rom. 12:1, 2).

It is helpful to compare the ministry of single men with that of single women. In both cases the limitations are similar. It cannot be said that the single woman is at a disadvantage; in her own sphere her opportunities for ministry are just as great. There are avenues of service open to single men that are not open to single women, but, likewise, there are many avenues of service open to single women that are closed to single men. Always God requires both the man and the woman for the carrying out of his work. And always it is his purpose that the man should be used as a man and the woman as a woman. Never is it his will that a woman minister in any capacity in which she must manifest the qualities of a man. If she does, she will be faced with the need for qualities and resources which she does not have and will endeavor to manifest them, probably doing damage to her own character, missing the true satisfactions that come from the fulfillment of her own nature in union with God and bringing frustration into her own life and, perhaps, the lives of others.

How many Christians, both women and men, have married out of God’s will, taking the direction of their lives out of God’s hands. In such cases a later submission to God’s will can restore fellowship with him and lead to fruitful service; but often it is evident that a life has been diverted from the purpose of God, with all the loss that involves. Certainly the single woman and the single man, who are in God’s will for their lives, will have a richer fulfillment spiritually than these, and will find that God in his perfect wisdom and love has chosen for them that which was best.

In the Lord’s service every Christian woman, married or single, will find that she has a sphere of service appointed to her by God, in which every spiritual gift He has granted to her will have full scope and in which she will find a completeness of satisfaction and attainment. For this all she needs is to know God’s will for her personally, to be truly surrendered to it and to engage in it humbly under the direction and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

A single woman who engages thus in the work of God will not know the frustrations that otherwise she might have to face, for, knowing God’s will for her life and having a life that spiritually is full, she will have an activity that is rich, complete and deeply satisfying because she knows that she is being used in service to God and to her fellow-men.

Fundamental Laws

For the single woman it is just as important as for the married woman to understand the fundamental laws of nature which God has ordained for man’s highest good and that are deeply embedded in the whole structure of her being. These laws continue to rule the life of the single woman and the recognition and acceptance of them will open the way to a true and fully satisfying adjustment to life. One fact that she must realize, that unfortunately many do not, is that she can look forward to a satisfying fulfillment in her life as a woman – that her nature, abilities and aspirations can find full scope in the place which God has ordained for her, and that any sense of limitation or frustration or self-pity is wrong. Such a sense shows a lack of confidence in God and of submission to him, which can only rob her of that which He in his love would do in her and through her.

It is definitely revealed in God’s Word that the man was created by God to govern and bring into subjection all God’s creation in this world. God gave him the necessary powers of soul and body to do so. It is also definitely revealed that the woman was made for the man: she was to be his helper in this task and she was given all the necessary powers of soul and body to fulfill that destiny.

It is stated that it is not good for man to be alone. It was not possible or advisable for him to carry out his work alone. The woman is not just his helper she is his necessary helper, essential in the carrying out of the work God has entrusted to him. She is his necessary helper in every phase of that work. In no sphere of life can the man be complete without the cooperation of the woman. Likewise, in no sphere of life can the woman be complete without the cooperation of the man.

These basic facts affect the single woman and the single man just as they do those who are married. The fact that a woman is single means that she does not enter into cooperation with a man in a home and a family, but she should not lose sight of the fact that normal cooperation with men remains open to her in every other sphere. There are vast and varied spheres of activity in which she can engage in a normal association with men – in activities in which the woman’s contribution is as essential as the man’s. This is so in every department of God’s work – in the local church, in the spread of the Gospel, in teaching, preaching and writing. It is so also in the world’s work – in industry, commerce, in the medical field, in teaching, and in many, many other fields.

But the single woman should not overlook the basic principle established by Divine wisdom. Fundamentally her work must be coordinated with that of the man and in it she must occupy her place as helper to the man, working in cooperation with him in the sense in which God intended. There is a fellowship as well as a cooperation between the two sexes that is essential. It is normal and necessary. The absence of it is abnormal; it is “not good” for either the man or the woman. This normal cooperation and fellowship between the sexes will go far to prevent the development of the characteristics so often associated with the “old maid” and the “old bachelor”.

If the single woman seeks to work separately in a purely woman’s work without normal cooperation with men, her work will be incomplete, not fully effective and her happiness and even her character and physical and mental well-being will be affected. Also, as in the home, if she seeks to take the place of authority over the man in whatever sphere she may be, she will break a fundamental law of God, which will not bring true fruit or happiness.

It will be understood that the normal cooperation and fellowship between men and women referred to is confined always to strictly defined limits, governed by the laws of righteousness, purity and holiness. In all things the woman and the man must guard first their life and witness as children of God, manifesting Christ. The manner in which there can be, and should be, this normal cooperation and fellowship between the sexes is seen in the activities and behavior of a congregation in which Christ is truly in the midst, all serving him together with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as priests unto God, each one in the place of God’s appointment and all cooperating together as the Holy Spirit leads and the word requires, and each one, both men and women, guarding carefully his and her personal testimony before God and before men.

“But we shall lovingly hold to the truth, and shall in all respects grow up into union with him who is our Head, even Christ. Dependent on him, the whole body – its various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another – grows by the aid of every contributory link, with power proportioned to the need of each individual part, so as to build itself up in a spirit of love” (Eph. 4:15-16, Weymouth).

Her Place in Church-Planting

Lady missionaries have consulted us regarding criticisms they have sometimes had to face from those who have questioned their right to teach and to have a part in the ministry of church-planting. Usually the difficulty arises from an incomplete knowledge of the teaching of God’s Word concerning this matter. The principles involved are simple and not difficult understand. The believing woman is born of the Spirit, a member of the Body of Christ, a priest of royal lineage, responsible to serve in the things of God as the Holy Spirit manifests himself through her.

In the New Testament Church women were active in the ministries of preaching and teaching. They participated in the local ministry of the churches and they cooperated in the work of the church-planters. They did not exercise the authority of a church-planter as did Paul and others who engaged in that ministry. That is, they did not minister to churches with the spiritual authority that enabled the church-planter to write to the church in Corinth or the church in Thessalonica requiring them in the name of the Lord to take action against those in sin or those teaching false doctrine or practice. Writing to the Philippian Christians, Paul addresses his letter, “…to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” To the Corinthians he wrote: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (1 Cor. 3:10).

To the Thessalonians he gave definite instructions: “We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us… For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat… And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess. 3:6, 10, 14).

It would not be possible for a woman to exercise such authoritative ministry over churches, elders and deacons. But neither is it possible for any man to do so if he has not been called and set apart by God for such a ministry. However, cannot any man and cannot any woman teach a church what God’s Word states about such matters? They certainly can and must do so.

The authority is in the Word because it is the Word of God. The authority of the Word is the same no matter by whom it is taught, whether by a man or a woman. It has no less authority taught by a young convert or a woman than by an elder or church-planter, but the office of an elder and that of a church-planter gives them a special authority and duty to present God’s Word and insist that it be obeyed, as is made clear in Heb. 13:17, “Render unto them that are your leaders obedience and submission; for they on their part watch for the good of your souls, as those that must give account; that they may keep their watch with joy and not with lamentation; for that would be unprofitable for you” (Conybeare).

It is understood, of course, that the special authority of these ‘offices’ rests upon the presenting of that which is truly God’s Word and ceases when anything not in true accord with God’s Word is taught or done. Those called to such offices have authority to speak for God; when they speak from themselves they become guilty of Moses’ sin when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had commanded him.

Women did not engage in a traveling ministry as church-planters, visiting the churches to put in order things that might be lacking, as Titus was instructed to do (Titus, chapter 1). But this does not mean that women cannot travel to exercise their own particular ministry in different churches. There can be careless and biased thinking on this matter which would restrict the ministry of women in an unscriptural manner. Men and women equally are priests unto God. The ministry of both, while differing, is equally essential. It is complementary. The loss sustained by failure to recognize this, depriving the churches of it, is sadly evident among those who restrict the ministry of women.

God-Given Ministry

In the planting of churches there is a type of ministry that the woman contributes that is essential and that cannot so efficiently be given by men. Men can be used greatly in ministry to young people but in this the woman also has her place. The influence of godly woman on teenagers, both boys and girls, is very evident. Of course it must be a woman who understands youth and responds to them, one who can mix sympathy with an unwavering demand for the highest; love with an adamant refusal to lower God’s standard. Youth needs this, and responds to it.

Teenage girls need counsel and teaching from a woman, from one they can respect and trust, regarding life as they face it; regarding the present and the future. God’s standards for conduct, dress, marriage, employment, companionship, personal witness and many other such things. In many congregations there is no one with the gift or experience to meet this ever-present need and how many girls have suffered through the lack of it.

Women can contribute greatly also to meeting the need in the churches for giving instruction to those responsible for teaching the children. In small and new congregations particularly there is often no one who can do this.

We have found that a godly woman with the Spirit’s gift for teaching can be greatly used of God in giving teaching to the congregations regarding the Christian life in general and God’s place for the husband, wife and children. Her teaching can have a deep influence, upon men, women and children. She speaks as a woman with the outlook and feelings of a woman and so adds, as it were, another dimension to the teaching which the man gives. The giving of this teaching to the whole congregation together is important. Men, women and children live, work and serve the Lord together. The Lord has put them together in families and in the churches. Their lives and interests are intertwined inextricably. All need to know what God has said about each of them and it is of deep interest to all to know what God would say through each of them.

A woman may give foundational teaching concerning the Church, its place in God’s eternal purpose and the structure and order He has given it for the carrying out of the purpose for which He has brought it into being. She may and must witness to the meaning and power of the indwelling Christ, the Holy Spirit’s place and work in the Christian’s life and ministry. All this she may and should give to all believers. That is, her teaching ministry is not restricted.

In all this the woman who is able to travel to visit congregations that are in need of any such ministry makes a vital contribution to the establishing and building up of the churches. It is a contribution that is essential and God calls and equips women for this ministry.

Paul refers to the fact that some of the apostles and others, engaged in church-planting, were accompanied by their wives as they traveled from church to church (1 Cor. 9:5). He recommends Phoebe to the church in Rome (Rom. 16:1). She had carried a letter from him to that church. Would she, and would the wives who accompanied the church-planters, refrain from taking an active part according to the gifts of the Spirit manifested through them? It is absurd and unscriptural to suggest that they would. Wherever they would go they would be faithful to minister as priests unto God, exercising the gifts of the Spirit which He manifested through them. There is no scriptural foundation for saying they could not do so. Such a thought is purely supposition based upon prejudice and biased thinking. No believer is ever released from the personal and urgent responsibility to exercise his or her spiritual gifts as a priest unto God.

Philip’s daughters were active in preaching. Did such women, married or single, have to limit their ministry to “teaching women and children and telling mothers how to bring up their children?” Do wives and mothers appreciate other women, particularly single women, telling them how to manage their homes and bring up their children? Usually they are very sensitive on this point, and where counsel is needed, it must be given with wisdom and tact. Usually it is best given as a part of the general teaching ministry that the woman is especially qualified to give.

Priscilla and Philip’s daughters and the wives of the church-planters certainly did not so limit their ministry and there is no record or suggestion of any who did. Had the missionaries’ wives who accompanied their husbands not exercised their spiritual gifts fully they would have undermined the ministry of their husbands by giving a wrong example in this matter to the women of the churches.

The Teaching Ministry

It is evident in the New Testament that women did not engage in the special ministry of ‘teacher of the Church’ (‘doctor’), recognized by the Church as a whole as a teacher and who might travel ministering to different churches as such. Nor were all men called to this ministry. Here again Paul is an example of one who exercised such a teaching ministry. It is necessary however to distinguish between the ministry of the teacher of the Church (doctor) and the gift of teaching. Only some, such as Paul, were called to an authoritative ministry of teacher of the Church, but all, men and women alike, should have, in some degree, the gift of teaching. The elder need not be a teacher, but he must be “able to teach.” Women manifest the gift of teaching in many different ways. Priscilla and Aquila (the wife’s name is put first in all except two passages) both gave teaching to Apollos (Acts 18:24-28). In the Old Testament there were prophetesses whose ministry was to the nation. There is no evidence whatsoever or suggestion that women were limited in the exercise of the general ministry of teaching, that they could only teach women and children, should not teach in the meeting of the church or should only teach certain subjects. No greater freedom is given this matter to men than to women. (The scriptures dealing with this matter have been fully dealt with before).

A God-Given Responsibility

As we have seen, the woman may preach and teach. She should not assume the authority of the church-planter or elder, but she is not limited as to what she should preach or teach. Is there any truth that a woman is forbidden to preach or teach? Is a woman prohibited to teach any part of God’s Word? In a church, is she forbidden to explain what God’s Word states regarding church order, separation, the Lord’s Table, the prayer gathering, or the responsibilities of the elder or church-planter? The fact is, of course, that there is no such prohibition or limitation. The woman as well as the man is under obligation to obey all of God’s Word, to declare it all and to exhort that it all be obeyed. Any thought that she must be silent when things are not right in the congregation plays into Satan’s hands. It is evil because it is entirely contrary to God’s Word. She must not be silent. A single lady missionary, or one who is married (or any other woman) would be failing in her duty and ministry if she refrained from giving teaching on such matters in a congregation that needed it. She has not the special authority of the elder or church-planter, but that does not in any way lessen the authority of the Word of God which she teaches, nor her responsibility to declare it.

This is clearly illustrated in the case of Huldah, the prophetess, related in 2 Chron. 34:22-28:

“So Hilkiah and those the king had appointed went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke to her to that effect. Then she answered them, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the LORD: Behold I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah, because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore my wrath will be poured out on this place, and not be quenched. But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Concerning the words which you have heard – because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before me, when you heard his words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before me, and you tore your clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard you, says the LORD. Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place, and its inhabitants.’ So they brought back word to the king.”

All believers, men and women, are free and responsible to declare all of the counsel of God, all of God’s Word, in the church and out of it, to obey it themselves and to advise and exhort the Church and all others to obey it.

Problems that Are Faced

The problems that a single woman may encounter will depend, naturally, to a great extent upon the grace and wisdom which she shows in her cooperation with others and in the manner in which she ministers. She can create or avoid problems. Normally, the woman who is lady-like, courteous and considerate, not dictatorial or domineering, will receive only courtesy and helpfulness from men who are gentlemen. However, in our experience, there may be two exceptions to this. A man may be prejudiced by an incorrect understanding of the teaching of Scripture on these matters and for that reason be inclined to hinder wrongly a woman’s activity in spiritual ministry. Also, in the case of a woman who is active and efficient, it is possible that a man who is less effective in his work may, perhaps without realizing it, resent her effectiveness. In that case he may be tempted to accuse her of going beyond what is Scripturally permitted for a woman. On this point it is interesting to compare the case of Deborah and Barak, told in Judges 4:4-9. God used the woman, and the man lost much of the blessing and the honor.

“And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. Then she sent and called for Barak, the son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, ‘Has not the LORD God of Israel commanded, Go and deploy troops at Mount Tabor; take with you ten thousand men of the sons of Naphtali and of the sons of Zebulun; and against you I will deploy Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude at the River Kishon; and I will deliver him into your hand? And Barak said unto her, If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go! So she said, I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking; for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

From what we have seen personally, the two most common problems created by the single woman are when she may have a tendency to assume authority (a temptation which, of course, is not limited to the single woman), and where time that should be given to God’s work is consumed largely in womanly activities – social visiting, chatting, housework, etc. that, if she were engaged in the world’s tasks would have to be fitted in after a day’s work.

It would be wrong to give the impression that this is typical of the single lady worker; it is not; but certainly it is a danger that should be borne in mind by the one who is thus privileged to serve her Lord. There are many women, both single and married, whose self-sacrificing devotion to God’s work is such that the time given to personal matters is carefully and strictly limited. To them the work to which God has called comes first and all other things take a very secondary place. These women have a place in the work of the Church and in the missionary ministry that is essential. Their lives give a testimony that is a blessing to all.

We have known some, however, who were tempted to misuse their time. There is the classic example of one who on one day in each week could not take part in any missionary activity because it was washing-day. Another day was house-cleaning day, and certainly her house was spotless. Letter-writing day was spent in writing to friends at home where in spirit she still lived. Social visits consumed more time. Before asking if she could take part in any spiritual activity, it was necessary to find out if she were not “too busy” on that day.

Of course, all such activities in the home are necessary and have their rightful place, but it is possible to give them a place that encroaches upon one’s duty to the work to which God has called. Married women, while having greater home responsibilities may also err in this matter just as greatly.

The truly spiritual woman in whom Christ is manifested will not create these problems. She will know how to take a woman’s place, manifesting in all her ways the beauty of her Lord, and she will not permit her time to be taken up wrongly with things that are personal and secondary. She puts first the work with which God has entrusted her, and many are those whose ministry bears rich fruit to the glory of God. It is a ministry that the Church greatly needs.

Men also can become side-tracked into time-consuming activities that effectively hinder the carrying out of the vital spiritual ministry they should be engaged in, and may calm their consciences with more or less the same excuses. Prayer, spiritual preparation and the ministry of the Word suffer. Time is spent with cars, photography, computers, and such like. These things may have a place of usefulness but how often the place they take is largely that of an absorbing play-thing. There is the missionary who is continually fixing up his old car, which he loves to tinker with, so that he has little time left for spiritual work. And always the reason is that the car is necessary for the carrying on of the spiritual work, therefore the work done on it is really an essential part of the spiritual ministry. The enemy can deceive us in many subtle ways.

Another problem that the married woman as well as the single woman may create is when, without realizing it, a motherly attitude is taken to adult converts in the work of God. The lady worker may act, as it were, as the mother hen with her chicks around her. To take such an attitude towards a group of adult Christians is a temptation, especially if they are new converts, but it is a very serious mistake and the results are far-reaching. She stands in the way of the spiritual development of the believers, hindering the Holy Spirit from leading them to maturity. She shields them and, it may be, manages their lives for them until, finally, they rebel against her. We have often seen this take place and the damage is difficult to undo; indeed, sometimes, it almost seems that it cannot be undone.

Actually, a single woman does not face greater problems than does a Christian man who is actively engaged with his Lord in the spiritual warfare. Satan tests all and the Lord permits it for our good. The single woman has the world before her, a world in which her contribution is essential – as essential as that of the man. As a member of the Body of Christ and a priest unto God she has a ministry as wide as God’s purpose for the Church. And, with all that, she knows that God has placed her in the place of his choosing and that the Holy Spirit will manifest through her all the gifts necessary for the full accomplishment of the work to which God has called her.

Entanglements

Miss Amy Carmichael, writing of “Entanglements” (the ‘little affairs’ as the Greek has it), that may entrap the one who would serve his Lord, draws attention to a vitally important matter, a danger that faces every Christian,

“And talk: if we write it down as a law of the house that the absent are not discussed to their detriment, that no belittling stories are told of any one, nor anything said about anyone unless it passes through the three sieves. Is it true? kind? necessary? If we humble ourselves if ever, unawares, we break this law, we shall be astonished at the amount of talk of the kind that harms the Spirit which it rules out with a stroke. And the frothy talk of nothingness, the mere noise of words that can dull and make dusty a whole table of Christian people, will not taste good to us if by his grace we keep that law. Talk can pull down as well as build up, and it can entrap and weaken in a very curious way. But the talk that is the kind He would enjoy, frank and simple and sincere and happy as the song of the birds – this kind of talk lifts up and helps. Imagination is in place here. Imagine the Lord at table or in the room (and He is); how would our talk sound to him? All we need, all we want, is to have his ungrieved Presence with us always…

“We cannot go in for entanglements of any sort, and for spiritual power at the same time. (‘No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.’ – 2 Tim. 2:4). ‘The evangelization of the heathen world’ – it is Coillard of the Zambezi who said it – ‘is a desperate struggle with the Prince of Darkness, and with everything his rage can stir up in the shape of obstacles, vexations, oppositions, and hatred, whether by circumstances or by the hand of man. It is a serious task. It should mean a life of consecration and faith.’

“It is not for nothing that the soldier’s word ‘entanglement’ is used only once again in the New Testament, and then in connection with something dangerous. (‘For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning’ – 2 Peter 2:20). It is used of those who, having escaped ‘the miasmas of the world’ are drawn back into them and ‘overcome’ “ (God’s Missionary).

“Christ in You”

In all the Godly men and women whose lives and experiences are recorded for our instruction in God’s Word, and in those who were special instruments in God’s hands for the carrying out of his work, one thing is always evident: the example of their lives is what gave and gives reality and substance to their message. It is not different today: the ministry we give, the truth we teach, will have reality only as we live it. And to live the truth as Christ manifested it in his life will mean that we must be “on the altar” as He was. We cannot manifest the power of the living Christ without facing Satan and the flesh and proving in our own experience his victorious life in every circumstance. This cannot be done on an easy road. It will be battle – up to the gates of Heaven.

“These things enjoin and teach.., but make yourself a pattern of the faithful, in word, in life, in love, in faith, in purity… Neglect not the gift that is in you.., let these things be your care, give yourself wholly to them; that your improvement may be manifest to all men” (1 Tim. 4:11-15, Conybeare).

God’s Word makes it very clear that our life on earth is a time of training, of testing and experience and that before us is an eternity in which we shall continue in higher service with our Lord. This does not mean that our present life is not important, for here we have great responsibilities before God towards our fellow men. Our faithfulness now can affect the future destiny of those to whom God would use us in witness. It affects the testimony which God purposed that the Church should give now before Satan and his armies:

“…that now, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the Principalities and Powers in the heavens, according to his eternal purpose which He wrought in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11, Conybeare).

But our life beyond, when we enter into our full privileges of sonship, made like unto his glorious image, is of infinitely greater importance. Whatever may be God’s purpose for us now, we look forward to the fulfillment, both now and in the future, of a life “in Christ” that is perfect and glorious, prepared for each one individually by the loving wisdom of our faithful and almighty God.

Is it therefore not proper and necessary for us now to live as “seeing the Invisible” and as watching for the coming day? “Wherefore… let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings closely round us, and run with courage the race that is set before us; looking onward unto Jesus, the forerunner and the finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Yes, consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you become wearied and faint in your minds… Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees, and make even paths for your feet” (Heb. 12:1-3, 12-13, Conybeare).

A Woman’s Work

She’s called to serve –
Did not the Lord a Servant come?
His life was light,
His love was might:
‘Tis ever thus she may become
His servant true.

Of home she speaks -
And so the Lord, of Heavenly Home,
With friendship, rest,
In haven blest:
And she may bless in earthly home
This pilgrimage.

She must be true -
With tenderness and love to build
By each today
Tomorrow’s way.
And so the Lord did work – and willed
That she should serve.

For on her work
Depends tomorrow’s loss or gain
From this day’s seed
Tomorrow’s deed -
As what she sows bears fruit again:
Thus did the Lord.

A builder she,
With patient art of Heavenly love
Such life to build
As God has willed,
With strength and wisdom from above,
With love’s true skill.

She builds with souls,
To shape them to a pattern true,
With God she builds,
For God she builds,
Eternal souls, whom to endue
With life He died.

Her work today
Tomorrow’s home and Church does build:
Tomorrow’s weal
Shall bear her seal,
For such great power to her God willed
If she build well.

Tomorrow’s man
She must with tender wisdom guide
And make a place
Of joy and grace,
Of refuge where he may abide
In this life’s day.

And then as ‘priest
Of royal lineage’ to teach,
As in the home,
Beyond the home,
By Holy Spirit’s gifts, to reach
The souls of men.

‘Tis so He built -
In sacrifice a Servant true:
He freely gave
And naught did save;
He gave of love’s full treasure true
To reap in love.

If she forget:
If self’s desires the heart’s throne hold,
That bitter seed -
Such bitter weed
By Eve in Eden sown of old -
Shall sorrow bring.

Her building false
Of self’s proud heart shall surely fall.
Such heart’s desire,
To her so fair,
Shall pain and sorrow bring to all -
Her life’s work lost.

Her power is great.
To all true blessing she may bring:
Abounding life,
Eternal life -
But she may sow that evil thing
That bringeth death.

As in her hand
Such reins of destiny she holds,
Partaker she
With God must be
As He in faithfulness upholds
In wisdom true.
                             (Alexander R. Hay)