In our current Journey Theme, She, we are exploring the roles we fill as women uniquely created to reflect God’s image and called to partner with Him at work in our world. We’ve studied what it means to be a mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor, and teacher. In each role, early Church preacher and apostle Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus hold true:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Today, we come to the role of sister. Whether we fill this role through our families, through deep and intentional friendship, or through the larger family of believers, it can be a role of support, friendship, and nurturing.
If we look for examples of sisters in the Bible, we quickly find several chapters of Genesis devoted to Rachel and Leah. (Genesis 29-35; I know it’s 6 chapters, but, Sister, you won’t regret reading it! #HisWordsBeforeOurs) Theirs was a complex relationship, often marked by competition, wrestling with a culture valuing women solely for physical beauty and childbearing, and living with the sting and suffering of bitterness, resentment, and emotional isolation. In fact, the support, friendship, and nurturing we discussed above seemed pretty scarce between them.
Yet, through the sorrow of a sin-twisted relationship, we see God at work, fulfilling His promises, both to establish His people through the lineage of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 15) and to bring about humanity’s rescue through Jesus. (Genesis 3:1-15)
Fast forward to the New Testament, where we meet sisters Mary and Martha. (Luke 10:38-42) While it seems we could hardly imagine two more dissimilar sisters, there is beauty and purpose in their uniqueness. And across the wide spectrum of their personalities, behavior patterns, and emotional responses, we can each find a reflection of ourselves. More importantly, we see Jesus interact with each of these women with challenge, intentionality, and tenderness throughout their stories; we gain a deeper understanding of His character and His heart for us, His daughters.
In Mary, we see a hunger for deeper spiritual teaching than women were traditionally given and a desire to abide in Jesus’ presence. (Luke 10:39; John 12:1-3) Martha was generous and hospitable, welcoming Jesus and the disciples into her home, using her eye for practicality to keep the crowd sheltered and fed. (Luke 10:38-40) Later, when Jesus returned following the death of their brother, their manner of grieving and interactions with Jesus again bear witness to their unique personalities. (John 11) At times, their differences seem to balance each other, lending stability to their relationship; at other times, we see their relationship scarred by sin, much like Rachel and Leah.
Both pairs of sisters show us their humanity and allow us ours, as well. I love that these women in the Bible are real people, experiencing many of the same emotional and relational triumphs and struggles as we do today.
There is a bond in being a sister, transcending time and culture. As believers, we are daughters of God and therefore sisters in Christ.
“And I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
(2 Corinthians 6:18, emphasis mine)
We now have a huge array of fellow sisters in Christ, walking similar paths, feeling similar emotions, facing similar struggles, following the same Christ. For our sisters, we have been given a supernatural, God-instilled agape (unconditional) love. Our fellow sister sojourners are uniquely created and called; when the enemy pursues and persuades, we can encourage, edify, and exhort one another.
In a sister, we can find one who
dances with us on mountaintops of joy
and sits with us in ashes of sorrow.
We can find one who
pierces our aloneness with the gift of presence,
one who warns us away from traps of self-delusion,
one who wraps us in compassion and empathy and comfort.
At the same time, every human relationship is stained by sin, and our relationships with our sisters are no exception, as we saw clearly portrayed in Scripture.
If we allow comparison, discontent, and envy to seep into our hearts, we cast our sisters as our endless competitors and we can make our heart’s home in sloughs of self-pity and scarcity, withering our relationships into empty husks.
We can release thoughtless words to slice,
allow self-centered mindsets to blind,
and sink into bitter isolation.
No human relationship can be perfect, and our sisterhood will be messy and complicated, requiring each of us to lean into repentance, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
When we choose to do so, the bond of sisters in Christ, daughters of the King, grows ever stronger. Admonishing one another in love and lifting one another up in prayer, we “encourage each other daily” (Hebrews 3:13) as we journey through life together!
She Day 10
Jesus wanted Martha to know that He could take care of everything she was worried about. (Philippians 4:6-7)
All she had to do was to seek Him and receive from Him. God has work for all of us to do, but not in our own strength (Ephesians 6:10) and never alone.
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