Nice isn’t Everything
If I were to ask you what are some desirable traits in a Christian woman, what would you say? Meek? Patient? Loving? Kind? Joyful? Submissive? These are all biblical words, but I’m afraid we often infuse them with mushy meaning they were never intended to carry. We have a tendency to amalgamate all the words descriptive of Christian character under the single moniker: nice. Now there’s a word that isn’t biblical. Jesus never said, “blessed are the nice.” God didn’t thunder from Sinai, “Thou shalt be nice.” We have adopted this idea, I suspect, because niceness has a way of calming rough waters, at least for a time. It allows us to be borne quietly along with the current rather than making waves with our paddling. That kind of commotion might make us tired and get us—and others around us—wet. Wet people become irritated. Irritating people isn’t nice. You see how this works.
There is a boldness to the Christian faith—even for women—which cannot be described as nice. It is right to be patient and kind, but Christian character has a firmness to it that does not meekly step aside when walking in the right. We must learn to live out biblical joy and love and submission within the context of a world packed with people who have, in many ways, set themselves up in opposition to their Creator. We need to learn to build our character within the parameters God has ordained. So, we don’t express joy for our friend’s homosexual union because we cannot rejoice in what God hates; we don’t practice submission to an authority which is demanding we participate in unrighteousness; and we don’t meet injustice with meek acceptance. It matters that we understand Christian character traits as God intended us to rather than adopting worldly definitions. God establishes fences to show us what words like love, submission, and compassion mean and He intends for us to live them out.
Abigail isn’t Nice
Our Creator does not expect Christian women to be docile in everything and accommodating to everyone. Abigail was a good example of this. When she confronted David and urged him to turn away from his plan to kill Nabal and his company, David recognized that the Lord used Abigail’s discernment to turn him away from doing evil. It can hardly be considered nice to interrupt the plans of a man bent on bloodshed and tell him he is in error, yet Abigail did this while displaying boldness in her speech and humility in her demeanor. She could have stayed home and not gone out to meet David and his mighty men. She could have followed the lead of her husband Nabal claiming it was her duty as a wife to nicely submit. Instead, she spoke wisely, she spoke winsomely, and she did not back down. She called David’s attention to the graciousness of God in giving him this opportunity to turn back before he did evil. She specifically named David’s unrighteous desire to shed blood without cause. She made no excuses for the foolishness of Nabal. She sought to be persuasive without compromising the truth. 1 Samuel 25 tells the whole story and we see that the Lord blessed Abigail’s courageous words and brought David to repentance.
Learn to Love…and Hate
If we believe that God’s Word is true, we must admit there are things which God loves and those which He hates, and we are called to follow Him in His attitudes.
O you who love the Lord, hate evil!—Psalm 97:10
I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.—Psalm 119:163
The psalmist is abrasive. Hate is a strong word, one we rarely consider an asset to the make-up of Christian character. It may make us uncomfortable, but the psalmist is leading us in the rightful attitude to have toward the evil peddled by worldly people as they stand themselves up in rebellion against the Lord.
But aren’t we supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Yes, this is true. The version of love the world is championing, however, is not the love we are called to. The Proverbs tell us that “even the compassion of the wicked is cruel,” (Proverbs 12:10). To allow the swamp water of their guilt-inducing cries for “love” and “compassion” to enter our boats is dangerous. We must love our neighbors, of course! We do this by working inside the fences God has established and practicing godly love which is anchored in God’s character and commands. It is cruelty to shut up our mouths and never speak against evil merely because the truth isn’t “nice.” When our neighbors are running after wickedness, it is loving to warn them of the danger that awaits them. It may not be pleasant to talk about judgment, but it is loving to try to persuade people to turn from doing evil which heaps punishment on their heads.
More than a Feeling
The apostle Paul tells us to, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). True love does not make itself hypocritical by trying to love and affirm righteousness and unrighteousness simultaneously. We have foolishly consigned love to the world of emotions which then allows us to try to “love” everyone the same. We just smile pleasantly and have nice feelings toward everyone regardless of whether they are doing evil or good and leave the judgment to God. If emoting could actually help our neighbors, we would be doing great.
The snag is that love isn’t primarily a feeling, it is a doing, and not just doing whatever we feel but doing the good things the Lord tells us to do. Christian love loves God first with heart, soul, and strength. This love for God insists that we also love our neighbors and gives a current to love that flows in line with God’s character and commands. Jesus said, “If you love me obey my commands” (John 14:15). Obedience is the manifestation of our love for Him and the expression of our love for our neighbors. When we don’t practice biblical love, we will find ourselves unthinkingly practicing cruel compassion toward others. True, it is God’s job to judge. He is the Judge of the earth. If we love our neighbors though, we will give them warning of this judgment instead of keeping silent. We will urge them to look downstream toward the dreadful plummet ahead, we will plead with them to repent and seek the Lord’s help in bringing them safe to shore, and we need not apologize for telling them the truth.
As a Christian woman, you will live at odds with everything the world holds dear. You need not buy into the selfish version of womanhood that worldlings are selling, but neither must you consume the bland version served up by well-meaning Christians. God-loving women show courage and compassion, perseverance and patience, guts and gracefulness, tenacity and truthfulness. They wield these traits and many others in service of the God they love and for His glory—no apologies.