It can be challenging to be in the world, but not of it. For us women, the fashions, entertainment, some careers, and relationships can be all consuming. If we are not careful they can become our priority. We can learn to walk a healthy balance of enjoying this life while still having a firm hold on our faith and God’s promises.
Jesus anticipated that this would be a challenge in his prayer to his Father at John 17: 14-17. He knew that the things in the world are pleasing to the eyes but corrupting to the soul. He identified those things as material wealth, idolatry and lust. Because Jesus expects us to have a long and active life on this earth, he wanted to ensure our success. Those who have learned the secret can tell you its about prioritizing according to God’s values rather than mirroring the attitudes and goals of the world.
What is the attitude and main goal of the world? Often they doubt or mock God, stress self reliance, and they focus on gaining material wealth and status. Even if the attitude is not one of greed, they are like the man who thought he had time to preserve more wealth in his storehouses.
While Jesus recognized the need to know how to utilize material wealth for our benefit and the benefit of the Kingdom, there is a need for balance in having our minds set on the things above and creating a fulfilling, purposeful life during this age. Let’s take Jesus as an example of how to live a balanced life. Though he was destined to give his life as a sacrifice for sin, he demonstrated that there are times for spiritual activities, time to be alone with God, and time to relax with friends. He chose as his friends people interested in doing the will of God. He also spent time alone with God, in the mornings, praying so that he could align His will with that of his Father’s.
The Will of God in Your Life
God has a purpose for your life. It is a gift that we are to spend wisely. It is based on love. God’s love for us. In order to make the most of it, we must remain open to God and His direction. We cannot hear from God if we are buried in day to day activities and leave no time to meditate on His ways. Jesus said the sign of those who are passing away is that their focus is on the desires of this life.
Its not as intimidating as it sounds however. Besides sharing the gospel and helping to make disciples, God requires us to be lovers of justice, purveyors of mercy and to display humility in relation to Him as God. That means for our personal goals, we seek His opinion first. This guarantees our alignment with him and opens the door for Him to help our plans succeed.
If we doubt that God’s will for our lives is the path to true success and joy, we can search for his promises that pertain to His will for us and the promises made to the believer. There’s not just one but many bible verses where God and Jesus make it that God’s will is completely opposite from that of the evil one. In learning to walk the balance of the Christian life and remain in the world but not of it, we need to learn that God and Christ’s will are to keep us from harm. Of course, it may take trial and error.
We can look at the example of those of the faith who came before us to see how their choices impacted their lives and learn why they made such choices. That will help us make some decisions more wisely and teach us how to respond to the temptations that the world presents and reap the benefits of our choice to serve God. Do you doubt that following God and turning away from the attitude of the world has benefits?
Two Women: Dinah & Ruth
As women, we can relate to both who Dinah and Ruth who were single for a time, wanted to enjoy life and made choices that impacted their experience and future. First, let’s consider Dinah, who was enamored with the ways of the women who did not know her God. She caught the attention of a well to do man, which is the dream of so many women today, but then suffered an act of violence at his hands. It resulted in blood shed to avenge her innocence. Though its been reported that Dinah had a good outcome (as the wife of Job) who reaped the benefit of a God blessed marriage, her first foray into the world had to have been devastating!
Ruth, on the other hand, after the loss of her Israelite husband, made an affirmative choice to serve the true God and not return to the gods of her own land and people. She proved herself industrious in trying to be a blessing to Naomi. Reviving Naomi’s hope that God was still good, she listened to her mother in law carefully about what to do to get the attention of Boaz, the man who would later become her husband and was Naomi’s benefactor. Her choice to serve God and be industrious had already won favor in Boaz’s eyes and it is not a stretch to believe that God inspired Boaz to treat Ruth with favor. She was able to go on and marry Boaz, become a mother to a son who was the grandfather of King David, and be in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Both women had a positive outcome, but one of them after making the will of God her choice, experienced a more peaceful transition towards the path that God wanted for her. We can pray to be like Ruth and make wise choices that lead to blessings. If we have already experienced, like Dinah, the devastation of violence or disappointment as a result of associating mainly with those who do not wish to serve him, we can still know that God wants to help us adjust our walk in order to bring about the most favorable outcome.
Yielding to the Potter
Though he allows for the portrait of the lives of others who may have similar experiences to our own, God is not going to judge us based on their choices and factors. We are all special to God and individually saved. We are also nurtured by God to achieve in life, according to the faith He has given us. Your portrait is therefore going to look different than mine!
The key factor is whether we will bend and allow the potter to create us into the vessel He would have us to be. It takes not just words but our actions. So while our secular friends may be making their goal to finish with the most toys, we want to be rich in faith and experience toward God.
Does that mean we miss out in this life? That is the fear of many who look to the world as the model rather than Christ. Well sure. We are held back from unnecessary pain and loss. We experience the peace of not being a slave to sin and we learn to obey God when man contradicts or is in conflict with His ways.
Steps Toward Balance
Especially if we are still relatively young, our lives probably mirror that of Dinah. The world is shiny and alluring and that is what attracted Dinah to the women of the land who did not serve her God. But even if we’ve experienced heartbreak, physical violence against us in the most surprising circumstances, or we feel lost amidst the many distractions, we can start by making a vital choice to move towards God.
We have to make the choice between having God as our main focal point or the wealth of this world. This may be a daily act of faith for some. We also have to seperate from associations with those are a corrupting influence. The bible urges us to learn to hate what God hates and love what he loves. This obviously takes a knowledge of who God is and what he loves versus what he abhors. Time spent with God learning about what he loves, allows us to realize this ‘world’ is temporary. God’s advice is for our good.
The ultimate will of God is to have things ‘take place on earth as they are in heaven.’ We can start to build a portion of that into our lives now. Remembering that Christ foresaw the challenge set before us to be in the world, but not of its same spirit, we can choose happiness, success and even receive material wealth on God’s terms. Making a choice to serve God can be our super power.