A WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE
STUDY TWO: SHE KNOWS WHO SHE IS
© Rosemary Bardsley 2015
In this study our focus will be on Ruth and the woman of Proverbs 31.
In Ruth 2:12 we read that Ruth had taken refuge in the Lord: ‘the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.’
Proverbs 31:30 states ‘a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’
This attitude of dependence on God and submission to God is largely absent in our society today.
A. IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY
Our society today is characterized by:
Independence - no perceived need of God, no desire to depend on God.
Rebellion - no submission to God, rejection of God’s right to rule.
Self-justification - Defending/excusing oneself.
Pride - Thinking one is good enough to merit God’s acceptance.
Performance mindset - Relating to God on the basis of one’s performance.
In all of these is yet another expression of idolatry – the original idolatry in which we put ourselves in the place of God, in which we see ourselves, not God, as the centre of our lives, and in which we have to depend on ourselves both physically and spiritually.
Discussion Point #1: Identify and discuss how each of the attitudes listed below is really the opposite of trusting in the Lord.
B. BUT THE WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE KNOWS
In contrast to the independent, rebellious, self-justifying, performance-based mindset of our culture and of much of our religion, including nominal and corrupted Christianity, the biblical woman of excellence knows –
that she is dependent on God for her very existence
that she is dependent on God for her acceptance into his presence
Discussion Point #2: Read Psalm 130. Discuss how each of the phrases listed below help us to have a Biblical concept of who and what we are apart from Christ and who and what we are with Christ.
Verse 1: ‘out of the depths’
Verse 2: ‘my cry for mercy’
Verse 3: ‘who could stand’
Verse 4: ‘with you ’there is forgiveness
Verse 4: ‘you are feared’
Verses 5 & 6: ‘I wait for the Lord’
Verse 5: ‘in his word I put my hope’
Verse 7: ‘with the Lord is unfailing love’
Verse 7[& 8]: ‘with him is full redemption’
In this Psalm we see
Awareness of the depth of one’s spiritual need
Awareness of one’s need for mercy as opposed to assuming personal merit
Awareness of one’s spiritual destitution and bankruptcy
Awareness of one’s need of, and the availability of, forgiveness [this includes awareness of the existence of the sin-barrier between oneself and God that needs to be removed].
Awe/reverence in the presence of God, resulting from forgiveness
Calm and peaceful dependence on God and trust and confidence in his word
Awareness of God’s unfailing love
Awareness of the freedom/liberation of forgiveness
B. THE WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE TRUSTS NOT IN HERSELF BUT IN CHRIST
Discussion Point #3: Read the following Bible passages in each of which there is a contrast between a person who trusts in themselves and a person who depends on God and trusts in God. Discuss the difference between a person who is trusting in Christ alone for his/her acceptance with God and a person who is trusting in his/her own righteousness, good works and performance. List the differing aspects of each mindset.
Luke 18:9-14: The Pharisee and the tax-collector
Luke 7:36-50: Simon the Pharisee and the woman
Luke 15:22-32: The older and younger brothers
Philippians 3:1-9: Saul the Pharisee and Paul the Christian
C. THE WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE
From this study we have learnt how the Bible defines a woman of excellence:
She is a woman of spiritual discernment – she knows who she is.
Like Ruth – she shelters under the wings of the Lord
She stands accepted in his presence in reverential awe –knowing that it is all his doing, not her own.
Discussion Point #4: In New Testament terms, what does it mean to know oneself as someone who has taken refuge under the ‘wings’ of the Lord? Write your own personal answer below.