She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:25-26 NIV)
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (Luke 1:45 NIV)
One of the most vivid memories I have of traveling to Russia with my wife to adopt our youngest daughter is of the official who came in on our last day. She arrived dressed to the nines donning a beautiful and colorful dress, hair and makeup stylishly coiffed and applied. We had met upon our arrival and throughout our week at the orphanage, but on those days, she, like most of the workers, was donned in drabber dresses and smocks.
Not meaning to be forward, but curious, I complimented her attire and asked her what the occasion was. (I assumed she wasn’t on her way to church since we were still in a communist, oft Christianity suppressed country.) She told us that she was on her way to join the International Women’s Day celebration and festivities. Like many countries around the world, International Women’s Day is a national holiday in Russia.
This year, International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8. Although we don’t officially celebrate this holiday with the fanfare it deserves in our country, my family has celebrated another women’s day for over a quarter century. On March 7, we celebrate Sister’s Day, the day our adopted and biological daughters became sisters.
This celebration of women made me think about how Jesus honored and was on the cutting edge of empowering women. Women were a key component of Christ’s ministry. Scripture indicates that Christ’s first miracle came shortly after His mother asked him to address a lack of celebratory wine at a wedding in Cana. One of His most powerful miracles came after Jesus wept with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, before He raised Lazarus from the dead. Luke’s Gospel tells us that at least three women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna) supported Him financially (Luke 8: 2-3). Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection (Mark 16:9). Shortly before her encounter with Jesus, an angel of the Lord told Mary and the other women to go and tell the male disciples of Jesus, who were mourning His death, that Jesus was alive. The Bible says that the men did not believe Mary. It makes me wonder if they were more skeptical of the fathomless miracle of the resurrection or that Jesus revealed His resurrected self to a woman before them. Later when they gathered together again in the Upper Room at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled both guys and girls with the Holy Ghost, and Peter noted that in the last days “your sons and daughters will prophesy (Acts 2:17 NIV emphasis mine).”
Over the years, well meaning- and not so well-meaning men have told me the strict limits that the church should put on women, their leadership, teaching and sharing of God’s Word. They often reference the Apostle Paul’s first recorded letter to Timothy. I understand the context of Paul’s similar sounding restrictions but feel comfortable we are not comparing apples to apples with today’s Biblically educated, Spirit-filled females.
Given the number of lost souls of both sexes wandering around without a Savior, perhaps a better use of time for us guys would be to step up, stand beside, support, and celebrate these women who are making a difference for the Kingdom. Undoubtedly Heaven will be well populated by women, who will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” including those gals who told Peter, the other disciples, and eventually us, what the angel told them, “He has risen, just as He said (Matthew 28:6 NIV).” God bless.