Faithful Christian Women—Precious Worshipers of God
“Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.”—PROVERBS 31:30.
1. How does Jehovah’s view of beauty compare with that of the world?
THE world places great emphasis on outward appearance, especially in regard to women. Jehovah, however, is primarily interested in the inner person, which can become even more beautiful with age. (Proverbs 16:31) Hence, the Bible exhorts women: “Do not let your adornment be that of the external braiding of the hair and of the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments, but let it be the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Peter 3:3, 4.
2, 3. How did women contribute to the advancement of the good news in the first century, and how was this foretold?
2 Such a praiseworthy spirit was shown by many of the women mentioned in the Bible. In the first century, some of these had the privilege of ministering to Jesus and his apostles. (Luke 8:1-3) Later, Christian women became zealous evangelizers; others gave valuable support to Christian men who were taking the lead, including the apostle Paul; and some showed exceptional hospitality, even making their home available for congregation meetings.
3 That Jehovah would use women in a mighty way in the outworking of his purpose was foretold in the Scriptures. For instance, Joel 2:28, 29 predicted that both men and women, young and old, would receive holy spirit and share in spreading the good news of the Kingdom. That prophecy began to be fulfilled at Pentecost 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4, 16-18) Some spirit-anointed women were granted miraculous gifts, such as the gift of prophesying. (Acts 21:8, 9) By their zeal in the ministry, this large, spiritual army of faithful sisters contributed to the rapid spread of Christianity in the first century. In fact, about 60 C.E., the apostle Paul wrote that the good news had been “preached in all creation that is under heaven.”—Colossians 1:23.
Commended for Their Courage, Zeal, and Hospitality
4. Why did Paul have good reason to commend a number of women in the first-century Christian congregation?
4 The apostle Paul, for one, was appreciative of the ministry performed by some women in particular—just as Christian overseers today value the ministry performed by zealous women. Among the women Paul mentioned by name were “Tryphaena and Tryphosa, women who are working hard in the Lord,” and “Persis our beloved one, for she performed many labors in the Lord.” (Romans 16:12) Euodia and Syntyche, wrote Paul, had “striven side by side with [him] in the good news.” (Philippians 4:2, 3) Priscilla, along with her husband, Aquila, also served alongside Paul. She and Aquila, even “risked their own necks” for Paul, moving him to write: “Not only I but also all the congregations of the nations render thanks.”—Romans 16:3, 4; Acts 18:2.
5, 6. In what ways did Priscilla set a fine example for sisters today?
5 What contributed to Priscilla’s zeal and courage? A clue is found at Acts 18:24-26, where we read that she supported her husband in helping Apollos, a gifted speaker, to be brought up-to-date with revealed truth. Evidently, then, Priscilla was a good student of God’s Word and of the teaching of the apostles. As a result, she developed excellent qualities that made her precious to God and to her husband and a valuable member of the early congregation. Equally precious are the many hardworking Christian sisters today who diligently study the Bible and also take in the spiritual food Jehovah provides through “the faithful steward.”—Luke 12:42.
6 Aquila and Priscilla were exceptionally hospitable. Paul stayed in their home when he worked with them in their tentmaking business in Corinth. (Acts 18:1-3) When the couple moved to Ephesus and later to Rome, they continued to show Christian hospitality, even making their home available for congregation meetings. (Acts 18:18, 19; 1 Corinthians 16:8, 19) Nympha and Mary the mother of John Mark likewise opened up their homes for congregation meetings.—Acts 12:12; Colossians 4:15.
A Precious Asset Today
7, 8. What commendable record of sacred service do many present-day Christian women have, and of what can they be assured?
7 As in the first century, faithful Christian women today play a key role in the outworking of God’s purpose, especially in the evangelizing work. And what a fine record these sisters have! Consider the example of Gwen, who faithfully served Jehovah for over 50 years until her death in 2002. “Gwen’s zeal as an evangelizer was almost legendary in our city,” says her husband. “To her, every human was a potential recipient of Jehovah’s love and promises. Her loyalty to God, his organization, and to our family—not to mention her loving encouragement when we were down—has been a great support to me and to our children throughout our full and rewarding life together. We miss her very much.” Gwen and her husband were married for 61 years.
8 Tens of thousands of Christian women, single and married, serve as pioneer ministers and missionaries, being content with life’s necessities as they spread the Kingdom message in territories ranging from bustling cities to isolated regions. (Acts 1:8) Many have put aside owning a home or having children in order to serve Jehovah more fully. There are those who give loyal support to husbands who serve as traveling overseers, while thousands of sisters serve in Bethel homes around the world. Without doubt, these self-sacrificing women are among “the desirable things of all the nations” that fill Jehovah’s house with glory.—Haggai 2:7.
9, 10. How have some family members expressed appreciation for the fine example set by Christian wives and mothers?
9 Of course, many Christian women have family responsibilities to care for; yet, they keep Kingdom interests to the fore. (Matthew 6:33) A single pioneer sister wrote: “My mother, by virtue of her unwavering faith and fine example, played a key role in my becoming a regular pioneer. In fact, she was one of my best pioneer partners.” A husband says of his wife, a mother of five grown girls: “Our home was always clean and tidy. Bonnie kept it simple and uncluttered so that our family could focus on spiritual pursuits. Her contribution to the careful management of our finances made it possible for me to work part-time for 32 years, enabling me to devote more time to our family and to spiritual matters. My wife also taught the children the value of hard work. I have nothing but praise for her.” Today both husband and wife serve at the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
10 A husband writes concerning his wife, a mother of grown children: “The qualities I admire most in Susan are her intense love for God and for people, as well as her understanding, empathy, and honesty. She has always held the view that Jehovah deserves the very best that we can give to him—a principle that she applies to herself both as a servant of God and as a mother.” With his wife’s support, this husband has been able to accept a number of spiritual privileges, including serving as an elder, pioneer, substitute circuit overseer, and Hospital Liaison Committee member. How precious such women are to their husbands, to fellow Christians, and above all, to Jehovah!—Proverbs 31:28, 30.
Precious Women Without a Husband
11. (a) How has Jehovah revealed his concern for faithful women, especially widows? (b) Christian widows and other faithful sisters who do not have a husband may be assured of what?
11 Jehovah often expressed his concern for the welfare of widows. (Deuteronomy 27:19; Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 10:1, 2) He has not changed. He continues to be deeply interested not only in widows but also in single mothers as well as in women who are single by choice or who have not found a suitable Christian husband. (Malachi 3:6; James 1:27) If you are among those who faithfully serve Jehovah without the support of a Christian mate, you can be sure that you are precious in God’s eyes.
12. (a) How do some Christian sisters demonstrate their loyalty to Jehovah? (b) Some of our sisters are coping with what feelings?
12 Consider, as an example, our Christian sisters who have not married because they loyally obey Jehovah’s counsel to marry “only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39; Proverbs 3:1) God’s Word assures them: “With someone loyal [Jehovah] will act in loyalty.” (2 Samuel 22:26) Yet, for many of them, remaining single is a challenge. Says one sister: “I resolved to marry only in the Lord, but I have shed many tears as I watched my friends marry wonderful Christian men, while I continue alone.” Notes another sister: “I’ve served Jehovah for 25 years. I am determined to remain loyal to him, but feelings of loneliness often sadden me.” She adds: “Sisters like me long for encouragement.” How may we help such loyal ones?
13. (a) What do we learn from the example set by those who visited Jephthah’s daughter? (b) In what additional ways can we show concern for single sisters in our congregation?
13 One way is seen in an ancient example. When Jephthah’s daughter relinquished her opportunity to have a husband, the people realized that she was making a sacrifice. What was done to encourage her? “From year to year the daughters of Israel would go to give commendation to the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four days in the year.” (Judges 11:30-40) Likewise, we should give heartfelt commendation to single sisters who loyally obey God’s law. * What is another way we can show our concern? In our prayers we should petition Jehovah to support such dear, faithful sisters to continue loyally in their service. They deserve to be reassured that they are warmly loved and deeply appreciated by Jehovah and the entire Christian congregation.—Psalm 37:28.
How Single Parents Succeed
14, 15. (a) Why should Christians who are single mothers call on Jehovah for help? (b) How may single parents act in harmony with their prayers?
14 Christian women who are single parents also face numerous challenges. However, they can turn to Jehovah for help in rearing their children in harmony with Bible principles. True, if you are a single parent, you cannot be both mother and father in all respects. Nevertheless, Jehovah will help you care for your many responsibilities if you call upon him in faith. To illustrate: Imagine that you have a heavy bag of groceries to take to your apartment way up in a multistory building. Would you struggle up the stairs if an elevator was nearby? Of course not! Similarly, do not try to bear heavy emotional burdens alone when you can ask Jehovah to help you. In fact, he invites you to call on him. Says Psalm 68:19: “Blessed be Jehovah, who daily carries the load for us.” Likewise, 1 Peter 5:7 invites you to throw all your anxieties upon Jehovah “because he cares for you.” So when problems and anxieties weigh you down, unburden yourself on your heavenly Father, doing so “incessantly.”—1 Thessalonians 5:17; Psalm 18:6; 55:22.
15 For example, if you are a mother, you are no doubt concerned about the influence peers may have on your children at school or the tests of integrity they may face. (1 Corinthians 15:33) These are valid concerns. But they are also matters for prayer. In fact, why not pray about such things with your children before they leave for school, perhaps after considering the daily text together? Heartfelt, specific prayers can make a powerful impression on young minds. Above all, you invite Jehovah’s blessing when you patiently strive to inculcate his Word into the heart of your children. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Proverbs 22:6) Remember, “the eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication.”—1 Peter 3:12; Philippians 4:6, 7.
16, 17. (a) What did one son say about the love shown by his mother? (b) How did the mother’s spiritual outlook affect her children?
16 Consider the example of Olivia, a mother of six. Her unbelieving husband abandoned the family just after the last child was born, but she readily took on the responsibility to train her children in God’s ways. Olivia’s son, Darren, now 31 and serving as a Christian elder and a pioneer, was about 5 years old at the time. Adding to Olivia’s anxieties, Darren developed a serious health problem that still troubles him. Reflecting on his childhood, Darren writes: “I still recall sitting in my hospital bed eagerly awaiting Mom. She would sit by me and read the Bible to me every day. Then she would sing the Kingdom song ‘We Thank You, Jehovah.’ * To this day, that is my favorite Kingdom melody.”
17 Olivia’s trust in and love for Jehovah contributed to her success as a single mother. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Her fine attitude was reflected in the goals she set before her children. “Mom always encouraged us to pursue the goal of the full-time ministry,” says Darren. “As a result, four of my five sisters and I entered the full-time ministry. Yet, Mom never boasted about these things to others. I try hard to imitate her wonderful qualities.” True, not all children grow up to serve God as did Olivia’s. But when a mother does her best to live by Bible principles, she may rest assured of Jehovah’s guidance and loving support.—Psalm 32:8.
18. How can we show that we appreciate Jehovah’s provision of the Christian congregation?
18 Much of God’s support is provided by means of the Christian congregation, with its regular spiritual feeding program, its Christian brotherhood, and its spiritually mature “gifts in men.” (Ephesians 4:8) Faithful elders work hard to build up all in the congregation, giving special attention to the needs of “orphans and widows in their tribulation.” (James 1:27) So stay close to God’s people, never isolating yourself.—Proverbs 18:1; Romans 14:7.
The Beauty of Subjection
19. Why does wifely subjection not imply inferiority, and what Bible example supports this?
19 Jehovah created the woman as a complement of the man. (Genesis 2:18) Hence, the wife’s subjection to her husband in no way implies inferiority. Rather, it dignifies a woman, allowing her to use her many gifts and talents in harmony with God’s will. Proverbs chapter 31 describes the broad range of activities of a capable wife in ancient Israel. She helped the needy, planted vineyards, and purchased land. Yes, “in her the heart of her owner . . . put trust, and there [was] no gain lacking.”—Verses 11, 16, 20.
20. (a) How should a Christian woman view her God-given abilities, or gifts? (b) What fine qualities did Esther display, and how was Jehovah able to use her as a result?
20 A modest, God-fearing woman does not ambitiously promote herself or compete with her husband. (Proverbs 16:18) She does not pursue self-fulfillment primarily through secular pursuits but uses her God-given gifts mainly to serve others—her family, fellow Christians, neighbors, and above all, Jehovah. (Galatians 6:10; Titus 2:3-5) Consider the Bible example of Queen Esther. Although physically beautiful, she was modest and submissive. (Esther 2:13, 15) When married, she showed deep respect for her husband, King Ahasuerus, unlike the king’s former wife, Vashti. (Esther 1:10-12; 2:16, 17) Esther also respectfully deferred to Mordecai, her older cousin, on appropriate matters—even after she became queen. But she was no weakling! She boldly exposed Haman, a powerful and ruthless man who plotted to annihilate the Jews. Jehovah used Esther mightily for the preservation of his people.—Esther 3:8–4:17; 7:1-10; 9:13.
21. How may a Christian woman become ever more precious to Jehovah?
21 Clearly, in the past and today, godly women have shown their exclusive devotion to Jehovah and his worship. Therefore, God-fearing women are precious in Jehovah’s eyes. Christian sisters, allow Jehovah through his spirit to fashion you progressively into an ever more desirable “vessel,” one “prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21; Romans 12:2) Regarding such precious worshipers, God’s Word says: “Give her of the fruitage of her hands, and let her works praise her even in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:31) May that be true of each one of you.
^ par. 16 Song 212 in Sing Praises to Jehovah, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Do You Recall?
• How did some first-century Christian women prove to be precious in Jehovah’s eyes?
• How have many sisters in our time made themselves precious to God?
• In what ways does Jehovah support single mothers and other sisters who are without a husband?
• How can a woman show heartfelt respect for the headship arrangement?
[Box on page 17]
EXAMPLES FOR REFLECTION
Would you like to consider some additional examples of faithful women mentioned in the Bible? If so, please read the scriptures cited below. As you meditate on the various individuals listed, try to discern principles that you may be able to apply to a greater extent in your life.—Romans 15:4.
◆ Deborah: Judges 4:1–5:31.
◆ Woman of Shunem: 2 Kings 4:8-37.
◆ Phoenician woman: Matthew 15:22-28.
◆ Tabitha: Acts 9:36-41.
◆ Philip’s four daughters: Acts 21:9.
◆ Phoebe: Romans 16:1, 2.
[Picture on page 15]
Do you give commendation to unmarried sisters who loyally obey God’s law?
[Picture on page 16]
What specific requests can be mentioned in prayer before the children leave for school?