What is God’s design for women? Our culture offers a very distorted answer to that question, bombarding us with messages and images that miss God’s good design. Women are promised liberation, all the while being physically abused, sexually objectified, and even encouraged to ignore or change their God-given gender. And the problem isn’t just out there in the world––the church often misses God’s good design as well. The roles of wives and mothers are often devalued, as is the important role of single women in the church’s life and mission. In this message, David Platt addresses these distortions by providing an overview of biblical womanhood that begins with Genesis 1 and then draws from various passages of Scripture. Only as we listen to God’s Word and find our identity in His gospel will we see the goodness and the fruit of God’s design for women.
If you have a Bible—and I hope you do—let me invite you to open with me to Genesis 1, the very first chapter in the Bible. I know that I have been here at McLean a relatively short amount of time, but I hope you have seen in me as a pastor a willingness to address pressing issues in our lives, our culture and the church with God’s Word. I hope you’ve seen that we will not back away from looking at even unpopular or hard truths in God’s Word, and I hope we’ve done it in a way that is good for our hearts as we consider how God calls us to think and live very differently in this world.
I love the men and women in this church, and I feel as though every week you are bombarded by this world with all kinds of messages that are contrary to God’s Word. We have an hour and a half set aside each week to say to one another, “No, don’t believe the world—believe God.” I share this set-up today because, as a pastor who cares deeply for you, I look around and see a culture—and even a church culture sometimes—in our country that all too often denies the dignity of womanhood. I see a culture that distorts true beauty away from God design. I see a culture that devalues and denigrates women on all sorts of levels. I see a world where it is dangerous to be a woman.
Just this morning, right outside our building, our team met with a woman who had just been abused. Tomorrow I’ll leave, Lord willing, to go overseas to see how we can support ministry in one of the worst countries in the world for trafficking women. It’s here; it’s there. I see public, high-profile leaders misusing power to exploit women for selfish gain. I see private, low-profile men indulging constantly in pornography for personal pleasure, from politicians to Christians and pastors and church leaders—and everywhere in between.
The effects everywhere around us are evident in gender confusion, struggling marriages, abandoned spouses, single parents, hurting children. And in the midst of all this, we desperately need to hear from God. But here’s the danger directly related to this: We also live in a day when the Bible, God’s Word, is viewed as antiquated on issues of gender and sexuality. Even those in the church, including some pastors, view the Bible as out of touch or even offensive. I grieve over recent weeks when the Bible’s credibility has been called into account because of words spoken and counsel given by church leaders.
I long for you to see the beauty and goodness of God’s Word when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality. If you are a follower of Christ, I long for you to see that you can trust God and His Word. If you’re not a follower of Christ, I long for you to see that God’s ways are far more fulfilling than the world’s ways will ever be.
Today I want to attempt a biblical overview of womanhood in a way that I hope and have prayed will be edifying to women all across this church on Mother’s Day, as well as will be a reminder to men of the dignity and value of women in such a way that we praise them. When I say praise, I mean praise. Proverbs 31:30 says, “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Now obviously, that verse is not exhorting us to idolatry. The point is, when we praise women for the goodness of God you see in them, Who are you ultimately praising? God. The God Who has made them and loves them. C.S. Lewis said, “If we do not admire what is praiseworthy, we shall be stupid, insensible and great losers.” I don’t want this to be a church full of losers, so we praise women according to God’s Word.
That leads today to a survey of what God’s Word says to and about women, from the beginning of the Bible to the end. Now, a survey by nature will take us many different places. We won’t have time to turn to all these places, so picture this as a tour through the Bible. On this tour, I want to stop along the way to show you ten different affirmations that God’s Word makes to women—and specifically to women in different circumstances. If you are a woman, my hope and what I’ve prayed is that in the next few minutes, God’s Word will speak directly to your heart, right where you’re sitting and in the circumstances you’re in now.
Then if you are a man, my hope and what I’ve prayed is that God’s Word will lead you and me to praise women, to honor, esteem, love, serve and lay down our lives for them selflessly. I pray that God might move in our hearts in such a way that our eyes would be open to how we can better love women around us—our wives or moms or simply women in the church and the culture around us. So men, here’s the question I want you to think about as you listen to God’s Word to women, “Do women in my life feel these affirmations in the way I treat them?”
Biblical womanhood means you are dignified and distinguished.
So let’s hear from God’s Word. We’ll start in the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1:26, with the sixth day of creation. The Bible says:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Let’s pause there as our first stop on this tour of womanhood through Scripture. Hear God’s Word saying to every woman in the world, “You are dignified and distinguished, honored and majestic according to the design of God.” From the very beginning of this truth, I want to make something clear. Let’s start cutting through the lies of this world.
To every woman in the world, you are dignified, but your dignity is not dependent on your physical appearance. Your dignity is not dependent on your career. Your dignity is not dependent on your marital status. Your dignity is not dependent on any man or anyone’s opinion. No, to every woman in the world, your dignity has been given to you by God Himself.
You are created in the image of God—like God—in the sense that you resemble Him. Your moral, intellectual, relational capacities are like God. Your desire to love and care, your ability to speak and work, your capacity to forgive and encourage—all of these traits resemble the God in Whose image you have been crafted. Now, one might say the same thing could be said about men—and that’s kind of the point. Men and women are both created in the image of God, so from the very beginning of the Bible, God in His Word is speaking directly against any kind of male or female superiority or dominance.
This means that in any culture, in any country, in any relationship where man is thought to be better than woman or woman is thought to be better than man, or where a man or woman is treated as inferior or as an object to be used or abused or controlled, then we are going directly against the design of almighty God. Our world is filled with cultures and countries like this. It is never right to disparage or belittle women or men. Sexual inferiority or superiority, misogyny, male dominance, female exploitation—all of these things are sinful violations of God’s Word and there is no place for them anywhere in the world.
Men and women possess equal dignity before God and are equally distinguished by God. God did not create gender neutral people. He created man and woman, both distinguished by unique, God-given dignity. This is so important in a culture where feminism is often equated with downplaying, defaming, disparaging or outright denying this God-designed distinction. So much of the message in contemporary feminism is there is nothing uniquely wonderful about being a woman, when the Bible says there absolutely is. This is also so important in a culture where various women are tempted to think, “I wish I was a man,” and various men are tempted to think, “I wish I was a woman.”
Oh, I long for you to see that God created you as a woman, as a man, with dignity and defined distinction that you can rejoice and rest in. Don’t believe the lies of this world. God created you good—very good, He actually says in Genesis 1:31. You are created physically different, yet equally dignified. So to every woman in this room, hear the Word of God to you. You are wonderfully and beautifully formed by God Himself in His very image.
As I use that word “beautifully,” don’t let your mind immediately wander to the world’s definition of beauty. If you look in Proverbs 31 at the picture of biblical womanhood, you won’t see hardly any mention of her physical appearance—the one thing our culture seems to exalt above all else. Our culture is screaming in thousands of ways, businesses are spending billions of dollars, entertainment industries are spending countless hours trying to convince women that their need for esteem, fulfillment and significance is found in looking a certain way. The Word of God resounds across our culture: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praise.” (Proverbs 31:30). She’s a woman who knows she resembles and represents God with distinguished dignity.
To every woman, you are dignified and distinguished.
Biblical womanhood means you are an invaluable treasure.
This leads to our second stop on our tour. One chapter later, in Genesis 2, God’s Word says to every wife in the world, “You are an invaluable treasure.” Read with me, starting in Genesis 2:18:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Grasp the picture here. Up until verse 18, everything in the Bible was good. We see the theme resounding over and over again in Genesis 1 and 2: God saw all that He created and “it was good…it was good…it was good.” Then you get to verse 18 of chapter two, and there God said, “It’s not good.” What’s not good is that man was alone. According to God, man needs woman and woman needs man.
From the beginning of the Bible we learn that men and women are created by God to complement one another. Going back to the “distinguished” reality we’ve already discussed, we realize in Genesis 2 that men and women are distinct for a reason. That distinction is more than just a difference in physical anatomy. This is not an evolutionary accident. This is not biological triviality. This is God creating man to need woman and woman to need man—in many ways and specifically in marriage.
Now, I trust we realize that we’re going totally against the grain of the way our country defines marriages right now, but according to the Bible, we don’t have the right to redefine that which God has defined from the very beginning. God defines it this way for a reason. The Bible teaches that in the beginning, when God made man, then woman, bringing them together in a relationship called marriage, He wasn’t just rolling the dice, being creative, flipping a coin between men and women.
God had a purpose. He was painting a picture. He had a purpose and a picture that were fully realized when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead in victory over sin and then instituted the church. At this point, the Bible says in Ephesians 5:32—quoting from what we just read in Genesis 2:24 about man and woman coming together in marriage—“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that refers to Christ and the church.”
Don’t miss this. In the design and definition of marriage, God is painting a picture. In marriage, God is illustrating His love for people. God designs marriage in such a way that in a husband’s sacrificial love for His wife, the world will see a picture of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church. In a wife’s respect for her husband, the world will see a picture of the church’s reverence for Christ.
There’s a ton we could talk about here, but for now just think about how this revelation stunned men and women in the first century, and how it shouts to men and women in the 21st century. In cultures that are prone to devalue women—specifically wives—the Bible says, “No. Husbands, do you see the way Jesus treats His church, how He loved her, served her, sacrificed and ultimately laid down His life for her? You are to love and serve and sacrifice and lay down your life for your wife.”
To every wife in the world, you are an invaluable treasure in marriage, apart from whom marriage is not possible, and in whom marriage is a powerful picture of the gospel. So contrary to what our world says, you are not optional in marriage. You are invaluable in marriage. And contrary to far too much contemporary practice, you are not trivial in marriage, to be treated lightly. You are a treasure in marriage to be cherished deeply. To every wife in the world, God says you are an invaluable treasure.
Biblical womanhood means God is using your life in ways you cannot imagine.
The third stop on our tour, as part of the purpose in marriage, is the multiplication of more people made in the image of God. This is the first command given to man and woman in marriage. We read in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” So hear this word from God to mothers and grandmothers: God is using your life in ways you cannot imagine.
So biblically we could literally go from page to page on this point, seeing mothers like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachael, Naomi, Ruth, the mother in Proverbs 31 whose children rise up and call her blessed, Elizabeth the mother of John, as well as Mary the mother of Jesus. But I want to draw your attention to two lesser-known women who are only mentioned once in the Bible, in 2 Timothy 1. In this letter to Timothy, a man who played a huge part in the spread of the gospel and the planting of the church in the first century, Paul writes these words in verse 5: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
We know from Acts 16 that Timothy’s dad was Greek and likely not a believer, yet Timothy had sincere faith in Christ—how? Paul is pointing out here how Timothy’s sincere, authentic faith in God had been modeled and passed down to him by a mother and a grandmother, in a home, day after day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, in that home that has been reverberating in churches around the world.
So mothers and grandmothers, God is using your life in your home in a way that reverberates far beyond your home. Much like with everything else we’re seeing in God’s Word today, this too is being undercut, undervalued, even contradicted in our culture. Now obviously, I want to be clear that the Bible doesn’t say whether or not a mother should work outside the home. Various moms do; various moms don’t. The Bible doesn’t speak specifically to that.
But the Bible does say that we should absolutely value a mother’s work inside the home. We live in a day when even the idea of just being a mom, or prioritizing all that mothering involves, is actually seen by many as second-class, or even a waste of someone’s life, a squandering of life. I hope we realize not only is that kind of thinking biblically wrong, it is practically absurd. Few things are more important in this world than the formation of children. This is the foundation upon which so much in this world is built. Being a mother or grandmother is in no way second-class or a waste. It is a wonderful calling to build the next generation. This is not intellectually restraining. This is the highest teaching and training that exists in the world. This is not the limitation of a woman’s gifts; this is the application of those gifts in ways that lead to the multiplication of good for children and all they will do in the world one day, in ways that will carry on far after you are gone.
I have yet to meet a grandmother or mother who has regretted pouring her life into her children or grandchildren. I have yet to meet a child who wishes his or her mother or grandmother would not have raised him or her in love. I guarantee you, Lois and Eunice did not regret pouring their faith into their son and grandson, and I guarantee they had no idea he would become one of the greatest leaders in the history of the church.
So to mothers and grandmothers, hear God saying that He is using your life in ways you cannot imagine. So press on. Persevere. Amidst the long days and even longer nights, amidst the delightful days and amidst the dark, hard, difficult days, press on and persevere, trusting that your love for your children or grandchildren is never, ever in vain.
And be encouraged if you’re a single mom, or a mom whose husband is not a follower of Christ. Notice that Timothy’s dad is not mentioned here. So especially when you’re doing this task alone, know that God Himself is your ever-present help. When you feel like you’re falling short, know that God promises to keep you, sustain you, strengthen you, uphold you with His right hand and to use your life in ways you cannot see in the day-to-day struggle.
To singles, God is your all-sufficient, all-satisfying husband.
This leads to our next affirmation, knowing that not every woman and not every mom is a wife. So hear God’s Word to singles: your marital status does not make you incomplete. There is so much we could discuss here about singleness and that we need to discuss as a church in our culture.
Just a little background, a hundred years ago, more than 90% of the adult population in our country was married. Most people married young, divorce was uncommon and even widows remarried quickly. For the most part, being an adult was synonymous with being married. Singleness was rare.
Today, almost half the adult population in this country is unmarried. Nearly half of the adults have either never married or are now widowed or separated or divorced. People are staying single longer than ever before, and as a result single adults are almost as common as married adults today. So what are we to think about this? Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? How does the Bible speak to this? Hopefully, better than we in the church have spoken to singleness.
If you look in Christian bookstores, you will find a plethora of books on marriage and parenting, compared with a very small number of books on singleness. And their content is interesting. You see, very few marriage books argue that marriage is a good thing. Instead, they talk about all the problems in marriage and how to deal with those problems. Christian marriage books tell you how to deal with the difficulty of marriage.
On the other hand, books on singleness take a different approach. They often imply that singleness is a problem. They tell singles how to make the most of their time until the right person finally comes along. In other words, they say the solution to the problem of singleness is marriage. And then, good news, once you get married you can have all kinds of other problems, so then read the marriage books. It’s a conspiracy. There’s got to be a better answer than this—and the Bible gives it in pictures throughout Scripture of men and women for whom singleness is not a problem, but a blessing.
At the top of the list of single men would be Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul. The list of single women includes names like Mary and Martha, Miriam and Lydia. The reason we need to stop here on our tour through womanhood in Scripture is because some single women might be tempted to think on Mother’s Day that because you’re not a mother or because you’re not married, then you are not fulfilling God’s design in some way. Some might even say that you need a husband to complete you, when the Bible does not say that. That’s why I worded this affirmation this way.
Yes, the Bible, as we’ve seen, gives a glorious picture of wives and moms, but the Bible also tells us that in Christ we are complete, regardless of our marital status (Galatians 3–4). Singleness is a gift to be maximized for God’s glory as long as God gives that gift (1 Corinthians 7). In Matthew 19:10–12, Jesus says it is good to be single for the sake of the Kingdom. God in His Word goes so far as to call Himself the “all-sufficient, all-satisfying husband” of His people: “Your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name” (Isaiah 54:5). So single women, on this Mother’s Day, know that according to God you are absolutely complete in Christ.
I would take it a step further. As one of your pastors, I know that church life can often seem really focused on families and couples. But please don’t let your singleness tempt you to believe that you don’t have a meaningful place in our church family. Based on 1 Corinthians 7, I would say that our church family would be incomplete without you. God is using you in unique ways that must not be underestimated or squandered, which is why pastorally I would encourage you to never let longing for marriage or physical family tempt you to take matters into your own hands in a way that causes you to walk outside of God’s good design.
We want to be a family of faith that supports and serves alongside you in all the good ways God has designed for you, as long as He grants you what He calls in 1 Corinthians 7 “a gift” in singleness. There’s a lot more we can say and we’ll dive into this more in the days ahead. But singles, hear from God that your marital status does not make you incomplete.
To the barren, God is your all-powerful, all-wise hope.
The next stop on our tour takes us to the barren, to whom God is your all-powerful, all-wise hope. Barren is the word the Bible uses to describe couples and women who struggle to have children biologically. It’s fascinating, as you read through the Bible from the very beginning, to see how very common this was among women of faith. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was 90 years old before she became pregnant (Genesis 18). We see infertility in Isaac’s wife Rebekah. Genesis 25:21 calls her barren. It’s the same word used to describe Jacob’s wife Rachel in Genesis 29:31. We see Hannah weeping for a child in 1 Samuel. We see Elizabeth longing for a child in the book of Luke. Needless to say, women who struggle to have children biologically do not find themselves alone in the Bible.
This journey of infertility is familiar to Heather and me. I know it’s familiar to women and men across this church. It’s why I emphasize this language: God is your all-powerful, all-wise hope. So if you are struggling to have children biologically, I want to encourage you that God is indeed all-powerful. Part of the purpose of God in many of these stories of barrenness is to increase the faith of these women and their husbands as they look to God and trust Him. Infertility is a sobering reminder that God alone can open the womb and provide children. He alone is all-powerful and able.
That’s why Psalm 113:9 can sing, “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” That’s also the struggle, right? Because if God is able to do this, then why does He sometimes not do it? That was certainly the prayer Heather and I were praying for years—about five years for us. Month after month after month we prayed, “God, we believe You have power to do this. We trust Your power. So why are You not doing it? Why did you give us the desire for children? If you’re not going to provide, then take away the desire. We have faith that You’re able to do it, but then month after month after month that desire is unfulfilled.”
The answer to that question leads to the second part here. God is all-powerful—and God is all-wise. Barrenness and infertility leads us to trust—not just in the power of God, but in the wisdom of God. We are led to believe and trust that in His wisdom, God is working in ways we cannot see and may not understand. He was certainly doing that in our lives. Little did we know, through tears, year after year after year, that in the middle of that time, God was forming a child over in Kazakhstan who didn’t have a home. God used this journey to lead us to adopt our first son Caleb. I cannot imagine my life without Caleb, my assistant coach in T-ball right now. We adopted him and two weeks after we returned home, Heather was pregnant. So God opens the womb and we have our second son, Joshua.
But then for the next three years He closes the womb again. In the middle of that time, we walk the path of adoption and bring home our daughter Mara from China. Then we come back and three months later Heather is pregnant. Her doctor says, “If you adopt four, I think you’ll have eight.” I’m not sure that’s the way it works. But I look around my table now and am reminded of Ephesians 3:20–21. This is immeasurably more than I could ever have asked or imagined.
You know what? Today, I praise God for five years of infertility. I never could have imagined praising Him for it in those years. I’m not saying that your story will turn out like our story. I don’t know how your story will turn out. But I will absolutely say that the God Who has all power also has all wisdom. He is wise and He is good; you can place your hope in Him. Even if God never opens the womb, He holds out hope. So hear this from Isaiah 54:1: “‘Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,’ says the Lord.” In other words, don’t underestimate the heritage of the adopted or fostered or spiritual children God desires to give you, an offspring Isaiah 54:3 says will possess the nations.
To the widow, God is your never-failing, always-faithful Provider.
One of our pastors, Dale Sutherland, , woke Friday morning to learn that his dad had unexpectedly gone to be with the Lord in the middle of the night. So be praying for Dale and Dale’s mom. My dad died suddenly of a heart attack almost 14 years ago. There were some circumstances earlier this last week that brought the pain of losing him back to the surface in a fresh way. I was talking with my mom on the phone, as through tears she was just thanking God for faithfully providing for her in Dad’s absence. Earlier when we were singing, I just pulled out my phone and texted her to tell how much I loved her and thanked God for her.
I know there are women all across this church whose husbands have died. I just want you to hear God saying through His Word today that He is your never-failing, always-faithful Provider. God has given clear, continual, comprehensive instructions in His Word specifically for your care.
Throughout the Old Testament, God gives clear commands to His people to provide for widows. Those commands are powerfully portrayed in the story of Ruth and Naomi, two widows whose story testifies to the faithfulness of God’s provision. Then in the New Testament, in 1 Timothy 5, God commands the church to honor widows in concrete ways. The book of James says true religion looks after widows. God calls Himself the Protector of widows in Psalm 68:5; the One Who upholds the widow in Psalm 146:9; and the One in Whom the widow can trust in Jeremiah 49:11. So to the widow on this Mother’s Day, hear God reminding you that He is your never-failing, always-faithful Provider.
To those who are hurting, God sees your sorrow and hears your cries.
We have a few final stops on this tour of womanhood in the Scripture. First, to those who are hurting in any number of different ways, God sees your sorrow and hears your cries.
D.A. Carson states that, in all of ancient near-eastern literature—as far as he can tell—there’s only one woman whom deity addresses directly by name. It’s in the Bible, but it’s not one of the great matriarchs of the Old Testament. Instead, it’s a woman named Hagar, basically a slave who had been harshly treated. She flees and finds herself in a wilderness alone, where God comes to her and calls her name. Listen to her response in Genesis 16:13: “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’” Then later, in another wilderness moment, when she was alone with her baby boy who was about to die, God spoke to her again. He said in Genesis 21:17, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.”
As I see this picture of Hagar, I can only imagine that there are women today in this room who are hurting in a variety of ways. I imagine there are some women who feel belittled. Others feel broken. Some feel abandoned. Others feel alone, even in a crowd of people. Some wonder if God sees their sorrow or hears their cries. I want you to hear Him say in His Word today that He absolutely does.
Psalm 56:8 says, “You have kept count of my tossing, put my tears in your bottle.” I thought, “God counts my tossings in the night. Not one of them is unknown to Him.” God knows every time you’ve tossed in bed. God knows every single tear you’ve shed. He doesn’t just see and hear these things—He promises to help and uphold you in the midst of your hurt, especially when you’ve been hurt by others’ sin against you, or even if you’ve been hurt by your sin against God. God’s Word says to those struggling with sin and guilt, God forgives you by faith.
Do you ever feel like you’re failing as a mom, as a wife, as a woman in this way or that way? Do you ever feel like you can’t measure standards you have in your mind? Maybe you look on Facebook and you see all these people who seem to have it all together. That’s just what they want you to think. You start to think, “I can’t keep up.” You start thinking about this or that area where you’re falling short, then before long you’re weighed down either by sin or just a low-level sense of guilt you can’t seem to shake.
There are all kinds of places I could go to in Scripture here, but one woman who immediately comes to my mind is Rahab, this woman who’s known in the Bible as an example of faith and whose name is listed in the lineage of Jesus (Joshua 2 and 6). Yet we must remember that Rahab’s profession at one point was prostitution. You didn’t want to be Rahab when you looked at her Facebook profile. The same could be said about a variety of women in Scripture. Think about Eve, from the very beginning of the Bible (Genesis 3–4). Think of the woman caught in adultery, about to be stoned (John 7:53–8:11) . Nobody wanted to friend her.
This is a Book where, from Genesis 3 on, we see sin in women, and at the same time, right next to that, we see love in God. Sin in women and love in God—over and over and over again. This is the great news on Mother’s Day. Not one woman in this room is without sin. Not one woman or man can measure up to God’s holy standard. As a result we all deserve separation from God forever. But the good news of the Bible is that God on high loves you. No matter what could be included on your Facebook profile—including the secrets you would never want anyone else in this world to know—God knows it all and God loves you.
God on high has made a way for you to be forgiven of all your sin and free from all your guilt. God has sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sin and rise from the dead in victory over the grave. Hear this: God has not given you a list of things to do to earn His love. God has not called you to measure up. God has called you to believe in the One Who measures up for you, to trust in His love and His Lordship over your life.
If you have never called out for God to save you from your sin and guilt, if you have never put your faith in Him as Lord, then I urge you to do that today. Right where you are, you can say in your heart, “Yes, I repent. I turn from my sin. I trust in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.” To all those who struggle with sin and guilt, know that God forgives you by faith.
Christian sister, remember that Jesus has paid the price for your sin and you stand before God righteous and clean. Know this especially in those moments when you’re reminded that you’re not perfect, when your sin rears its head in any number of different ways in your thoughts, desires, words and actions. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1–2). That is the greatest news any one of us could hear on Mother’s Day!
To those facing the impossible, God is your strength.
That leads to the next to the last stop on our tour: to those facing the impossible, God is your strength. Are there any women in this room who feel like they can’t do it all? You feel like marriage or motherhood or singleness are sometimes hard. You feel like your career responsibilities are too difficult to carry. Are there any women who feel like life in a world of sin and suffering is sometimes too much to handle?
Hear God’s Word to probably the most prominent woman in the entire Bible, Mary, as she considered a task of which she did not feel worthy and in which she did not see a way it could happen. God said to her in Luke 1:37, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” In other words, God said, “That to which I call you, I promise to empower you.” And Mary responded in verse 38, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
If I could, I’d like to share some bad news with women all across this church. Here it is. On your own, you cannot do that which God has called you to do. You cannot be the single woman God has called you to be. You cannot be the wife God has called you to be. You cannot be the mom God has called you to be. You cannot be the woman God has called you to be on your own.
But here’s the good news: God has not called you to do any of these things alone. With all you’ve got on your plate, you think, “How do I….?” That to which God has called you, He promises to empower you. So, to any woman who feels overwhelmed right, be overcome by this reality today: the God of the universe is your strength.
Based upon that reality, hear this final word to women on Mother’s Day.
To those seeking biblical womanhood, do not underestimate your role in making the gospel and glory of God known in the world around you.
I wish we had time this morning to do a whole other survey of all the women whom God used in the Bible for the display of His goodness and glory in the world. I think about Abigail, the wife of a wicked man, yet her wisdom and generosity saved her family from death (1 Samuel 25). Deborah, who brought about a great victory for God’s people in the time of the judges (Judges 4–5). Ruth, who shows the power of redemption through her loyalty and love (Ruth 1–4). Esther, who risked her life to save the Jewish people from total extermination (Esther 1–10).
Then in the New Testament, I don’t think people today realize how radical Jesus and Christianity was regarding women in the first century. In ancient Greece, a respectable woman couldn’t even leave the house unless she was accompanied by a man. A wife couldn’t eat or interact with males. Women had the social status of slaves. Ancient Rome wasn’t much different. A husband had the power of life and death over his wife. He could divorce her if she went out in public without a veil over her face. And sadly, I trust we realize there are many places in the world today where this is a reality for women, not just around the world, but right here in Washington.
In this kind of culture, Jesus stepped onto the scene and raised the status of women to entirely new heights. He totally redefined the dignity of women through His interactions with them in a way that redefines the dignity of women around the world today. In His interactions with Mary and Martha, a Samaritan woman at the well and scores of other women, Jesus contradicts any anti-female culture. He sets the standard for the church to follow, which is why we see Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Euodia and countless other named and unnamed women whose lives were instruments in God’s hands for the spread of the gospel and the glory of His name in the Bible.
So sister in Christ, see how God has uniquely and wonderfully designed your life for His glory in the world. Do not underestimate for a second the role God has given you to play in the spread of His glory. See a biblical survey of beautiful womanhood according to God’s design, and please, I urge you, don’t believe the lies of this world and don’t believe distortions of the Bible. Your womanhood is a prize to be praised. So fear God. Trust His Word over the words of this world. Follow His ways over the ways of this world and spend your life as a woman for the spread of His worship in this world.
I want to lead us in prayer and I want us to pray specifically for women across this church. As a picture of that, in just a moment, I’m going to invite every woman in this room to stand. As you stand, it’s going to be a picture of us saying we want to lift you up in prayer today. As you stand, all the men are going to bow our heads and intercede specifically for you. We’re going to join our hearts together before our Father in heaven, thanking God for you and praying in light of His Word for you.
Let’s pray together.
Our Father in heaven, we praise You for the women in this church. We praise You for creating, crafting and forming them in Your image in ways that resemble Your character and glory. We praise them for Your goodness in them. We thank You for the single women, the wives, the mothers and the grandmothers in this room. We praise You for how You have uniquely designed them for Your glory and we pray for Your blessings on them today.
God, amidst a world that throws all kinds of lies their way, we pray that they would know who they are in Christ and that they would find the identity, meaning and fulfillment that You have designed for them. Then flowing from that, I pray they would find rest and security in You. Bless them for the building up of Your church, for the spread of the gospel, for the building up of homes, for the spread of Your glory in ways far beyond what any one of us could ask or imagine.
We pray as men that these affirmations would be reflected in the way we love, serve, build up, encourage and selflessly sacrifice for the women in our homes and in this church, in the spheres of influence You have entrusted to us. God, we pray that McLean Bible Church would be a church where women thrive for Your glory, in a way that reflects Your goodness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
How can we apply this passage to our lives?
How does our culture answer the following Question: “What does it mean to be a woman?”
What does Genesis 1:26–28 teach us about God’s design for and the spiritual dignity of women?
Some women feel as if they don’t matter to the church’s life and mission. How would you encourage them based on this message?
What’s wrong with viewing singleness as a problem to be solved? How does the Bible view singleness?
What are some practical ways you can encourage women in your church with the truths covered in this message?
“A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Genesis 1:26 – 28
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
To every woman in the world, you are dignified and distinguished.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
To every wife in the world, you are an invaluable treasure.
Genesis 2:18 – 24
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
To mothers and grandmothers, God is using your life in ways you cannot imagine.
2 Timothy 1:5
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
To singles, God is your all-sufficient, all-satisfying husband.
“Your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name.”
To the barren, God is your all-powerful, all-wise hope.
“He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”
“‘Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,’ says the Lord.”
To the widow, God is your never-failing, always-faithful.
To those who are hurting, God sees your sorrow and hears your cries.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’”
“What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.”
To those struggling with sin, God forgives you by faith.
To those facing the impossible, God is your strength.
“For nothing will be impossible with God.”
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”