A WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE
STUDY THREE – SHE KNOWS WHO HER NEIGHBOUR IS
© Rosemary Bardsley 2015
Because she knows who God is, and because she knows who she herself is, the woman of excellence also knows who her neighbour, her fellow human being, is a person created by God – and therefore unique and loved by God, and a person for whom Christ died – and therefore treasured and loved by God.
A. SHE KNOWS HER NEIGHBOUR IS CREATED BY GOD
Discussion Point #1: Knowing God as Creator gives significance and dignity to every human being because every human being is created by God and for God for his glory. From the verses below, identify what each verse teaches about our neighbour, and what this fact about our neighbour infers or teaches about how we should treat our neighbour [both in attitude and action]. Include discussion on how our knowledge of God as Creator should put boundaries around our attitude to and treatment of others.
B. SHE KNOWS HER NEIGHBOUR IS A PERSON FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED
Discussion Point #2: Knowing God as Saviour gives us a perception of the unique value and preciousness of our neighbour, because God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to die as a substitutionary sacrifice to atone for the sins of that neighbour. Starting with the verses below, discuss  the way God values our neighbour, and  the boundaries that God’s saving action in Christ puts around the way we view and treat our neighbour.
Knowing how much God loves her neighbour, the woman of excellence therefore relates to her neighbour with respect and love, for that is how God has acted towards her.
C. THE WOMAN OF EXCELLENCE IS A WOMAN OF FREEDOM
Because she knows that she herself does not merit God’s acceptance, and because she knows that nothing she has done has caused his goodness towards her:
C.1 The woman of excellence is a woman of freedom in the presence of her neighbours:
She does not need to preserve, defend and justify herself.
Her knowledge of her acceptance in the presence of God liberates her from self-focus and self-vindication in the presence of others.
She is free to be for her neighbours, because she knows that God is for her.
Her acts of kindness towards them are done freely, not as a means of self-justification or self-promotion, not as a means of accumulating merit with either man or God.
She thus does not use her neighbours to give herself either a buzz or brownie points.
This is the liberty and the humility of true faith. This is the liberty of the woman of excellence.
C.2 The woman of excellence relates to others on the basis of mercy, not merit.
She does not operate as the world does – as ‘ordinary’ women do – women not declared by God to be his own – for she has chosen the paradigm of grace.
Therefore she knows that modifying her actions, attitude or words to her neighbour on the basis of any human criteria is outlawed. This means that the woman of excellence does not relate to her neighbour on the basis of the neighbour’s race, social strata, beauty, brawn, brains, body, babies, bank balance, biography, spirituality, religious exercises, obedience to law, worldly fame, ability to meet her needs, or perceived merit of any kind.
To do so is to act contrary to the Gospel of Grace.
To do so is outlawed by the Gospel of Grace by which God made us his own.
C.3 2Corinthians 5:16
In 2Corinthians 5:16 Paul wrote:
‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view [according to flesh]. Though we once regarded Christ this way we do so no longer…’
What is Paul saying here? He is telling us that:
That we should no longer look at people as they are in themselves.
That we should look at them only as they are in Christ.
That we should relate to them in the same way that God relates to us, in Christ.
In Christ, in his kingdom, of which we are members,
the operating principle is the principle of grace, not merit
God no longer relates to us as we are in ourselves, but only as we are in Christ.
Therefore the woman of excellence, the woman who knows who God is by knowing Christ, the woman who knows who she is – one who shelters under the wings of God, also knows that
C.4 Her neighbour is a person God wants her to –
Love as he loves her
Forgive as he has forgiven her
Accept as he has accepted her
Acquit as he has acquitted her
Be at peace with, as he is at peace with her
Be merciful to, as he has had mercy on her
Shower with grace, as he has lavished grace on her
Refuse to condemn, as he no longer condemns her.
Discussion Point #3: Because ‘in Christ’ we no longer need to preserve, defend and justify ourselves we are free to be for God and for our neighbour. Given that we are commanded to love one another as God loved us, discuss the impact the following Gospel truths should have in our interpersonal relationships. Use the references to give foundation and direction to your discussion.
We are forgiven - Ephesians 4:31-5:2; Colossians 3:12-13
We are justified [declared ‘not guilty’] - Romans 3:21-28
We have peace with God - Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14-18
We are redeemed [set free from bondage] - Galatians 5:1; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Colossians 2:20
There is no more condemnation - Romans 8:1; Colossians 2:16-17
We are qualified - Colossians 1:12; Colossians 2:18
We are reconciled to God - Colossians 1:19-22; 2Corinthians 5:14-6:1
We are holy and blameless - Ephesians1:4; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:10-14
We have already passed beyond the reach of God’s judgement - John 5:24; Colossians 3:1-3
We are members of Christ’s kingdom where grace is the operating principle - Colossians 1:13; Romans 5:17,21; Romans 6:14
The woman of excellence knows who her neighbour is –
A person loved by God
A person for whom Christ died
A person to whom Christ commands her to show the same mercy that she has received from him.