Beth Moore - Strong Sisters - Part 2
This has been a huge thing that God has been doing in my own life and in our ministry at Living Proof back in Houston. What this is doing, if we'd be willing to be part of it, is to push back really hard on the celebrity culture that is infecting the community of faith. We don't want any part of that. We weren't called to solo. We were called to one another, to be a community, to be a family of faith. And listen. We are so trained to go solo, so if we're gonna do it differently, we're gonna have to mean to, push back on it. So, God's just been over and over, "Share your space. Share your space," so I've been doing this on Instagram and on social media, where it's not just me all the time. Get them up there and let them speak. Anybody know what I'm talking about?
Let's push back against this celebrity culture. Let's not let this infect us. We are a community of faith, and we need one another. Somebody say, "Girl, share your space". I want you to be thinking today, all of you, every one of you that are on the other side of that screen, what does that look like for you. See, if today you would get a sense of the leadership of the Holy Spirit, what would it look like to you to share your space, even if you have to make room? And let me tell you something. Sometime, when we need to make room, our arms aren't strong enough. We're gonna have to put our hips into it. Anybody know what I'm talking about? I mean, like, put your hip into it. Get some stuff to move.
This is important enough that I'm gonna be bold enough to say, if you say, "My life is too full," move something. Move something. This is how important the body of Christ is in the day in which we live. We must prioritize the household of faith to be strong and joyful people, so that as we go out and witness people want what we've got. That the Holy Spirit draws them to himself because they see strength in us. They see joy in us. They see that there's fellowship in us. The enemy is working in such a way in our culture to undermine the very things that would have made us flavorful to the world. Anybody getting that with me? So, tell me what number one was.
Number two is this: Clean out your closet. Clean out your closet. I'm talking about a door to your head, that closet. There's a closet in here that needs cleaning out, some stuff that you and I are wearing that do not fit us. They do not fit women of God. And for any of us who are in Christ, there are certain things we ought not be wearing because they do not fit us. Here we are. We were shame after Christ already wore it, our shame on our behalf on the cross. What are we doing wearing what he already wore on the cross? We gotta get on with it, because let me tell you something, moms. I wanna speak to moms and big sisters and people that are in one another's lives in direct influence. Here's what happens. One woman has shame because of very specific things, like maybe like me. I felt a lot of shame because I was a victim of early childhood sexual abuse. And then, not only, if that were not enough, I went on to make every foolish relational decision you could possibly imagine, so that heaped shame upon shame, upon shame, upon shame.
And, you know, of course, that's the first thing we see in the garden, is that after they said, I mean, they were shamed. They were completely covered over by shame. And even though it was not my shame or my fault in any way what happened to me, man, I began acting out of that belief system and just wore shame. Well, here's what can happen. It could be that my daughters or my granddaughters or anyone under my influence didn't even have the same shame, but because I taught them how to walk, they walk just like me. Anybody getting that with me? If we're the ones influencing them, and we are just like, we wear shame constantly, we are teaching those we are tutoring, teachers, those we are mentoring, mentors, those we are mothering, mothers, those we are an aunt to, aunts, grandmothers, they don't even know what the origin of our shame was. Maybe we got it from our mother. All they know is they walk just like us, and they walk shamed.
Shoulders over, head down, 'cause we're teaching, listen to me carefully, our generation is teaching those little girls how to walk. Our little sisters in Christ are looking to us to see how to walk and what to wear, and we need to teach them that we believe what happened for us on the cross. We believe it to our bones, and we dress like people who believe what Jesus did for us. And we do not wear shame. Anybody know what I'm talking about? We do not wear the guilt and the constant paralyzing regret over sins we long since repented of and were completely cleansed of. How many of us are still confessing the sins that we committed 20 years ago? But we still feel so guilty about it. We just keep it up, and keep it up, and keep it up. And you know what we're doing? And, I mean, we've even, like, we haven't gone back to it, and yet we'll just keep confessing it, keep feeling the shame over it. You know what we're doing? We're confirming and reconfirming over and over again, "God is not faithful. He did not do what he said he did on the cross. He did not carry all my sins. I'll carry this one to the grave".
Lay it down. If it was laid on Christ, it is not laid on you. Get it off. Get it off. Is somebody listening today? Lay it down. Some of us are just wearing a chip on our shoulder. We just got a chip on our shoulder all the time. We're just defensive all the time. Just defensive all the time. Some of us have the family-size "Ruffles have ridges," walk around with big ole bag of chips. And listen. Some of it is personal, but some of it is societal and... 'cause those things like shame, guilt over things that God has already cleansed us for, all of these things, so those are very personal things. Our society, our culture is coating us, and I mean it 'cause we're talking about cleaning out our closet. Our culture is coating us in three elements that don't fit faithful disciples: fear, fragility, and fragmentation. It's not just that fearfulness may undermine faithfulness. It absolutely will. It absolutely will, because they are antitheses. I want you to hear something. Do turn with me, I think it's important enough to make this trip with me.
Go with me to Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 12. Jeremiah 12. I'm gonna read verses 1 through 5. This is Jeremiah making his complaint to God, and he says, "You will be righteous, Lord, even if I bring a case against you. Yet, I wish to contend with you: why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the treacherous live at ease? You planted them, and they have taken root. They have grown and produced fruit. You are ever on their lips, but you are far from their conscience". Is that not troubling? "As for you, Lord, you know me; you see me. You test whether my heart is with you. Drag the wicked away like a sheep to slaughter and set them apart for day of killing". I mean, can you hear him? Just, like, he's going on. It's like, "You know, you need to deal with this. You need to deal with this". And then, he says, listen to God's response to him in verse 5, "If you have raced with runners and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a peaceful land, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan"?
Do you hear what he's saying? He said, "Lemme tell you something. If on an easy day you're stumbling all over the place, what are you gonna do on a hard day"? I think that it's appropriate, when we look at places that we've seen in Ephesians, particularly Ephesians chapter 6, 10, through the rest of the chapter, I wonder if he would say the same thing to us. "You know what? I called you to run with horses. This is what I'm looking for out of my people, a strength that is not your own". Fear. Fragility. We talk about over and over again in the New Testament, particularly Paul, but you see it again and again in the book of Acts that the New Testament church was characterized by a particular word. They prayed for it, and we see it described of them: boldness. They were bold, bold, bold, bold. Not rude, not brash, not brutal, but they were bold, Christ-like boldness.
I wanna talk to you for a moment about fragility, because what I wanna suggest to you is that one of the most prominent mottos of our public sphere in our present world is, "you can't say that". Anybody know what I'm talking about? You and I, as part of this culture, are being continually tutored and raised up to be fragile. Now, listen carefully to me because I wanna say what I'm not saying before I say what I am saying. I don't mean that life is not fragile. It is. I don't mean that we are not, at times, fragile ourselves. We are. There are states of mind and conditions of body that truly are fragile. A cracked spine is fragile, and so is a cracked mind, but I'm talking about the constant cultural training that we are now getting to be constantly offended and hurt and seemingly wounded by everything and anything that is an affront to us.
Would anybody say that you can see that happening besides me? I mean, it's just about, "You can't say that. You can't say", and listen. Granted, there are things people ought not be saying and that we ought to be saying, "You know what? You really cannot say that in a Christ-like manner". Or, "You really can't say that and be a person that has integrity or that has respect for fellow image bearers of God". There are times for that. What I'm saying is it's not taking all that for us. Every little thing, "Oh, I'm so offended. I'm so offended. I'm so offended". And we're getting more and more fragile. Let me tell you why this is so counteractive to being a faithful follower of Christ: because Jesus told his followers from the very beginning that we would be spoken against. We would be falsely accused. We would be insulted. We would be mocked. Our motives would be questioned. We were called to supernatural strength, to abiding in obvious joy. We were called to be strong siblings to one another in Christ and to be a help and benefit to a lost world. We cannot afford to be fragile all the time. At some point, we gotta get some iron in our blood and some calcium in our bones. Am I talking to anyone today?
See, 2 Timothy 3 talks about how people are gonna be. That they're gonna be more and more, as time goes on and gets closer and closer to Christ's return, people are gonna be lovers of themselves, lovers of money. They're gonna be boastful, proud, demeaning. They're gonna be unholy, unloving. They're gonna be irreconcilable, slanders, brutal. Do you see it? Traitors, reckless, conceited. Do you understand what I'm saying? Because more and more they're gonna be offensive. Let me tell you what's going to be an act of God in every single one of us: When we are not the ones that are crippled by offense, but that we stay on our feet knowing he said the world would be just like this. He said this would be the world we would go out in, and that despite all the turmoil, over and over he said, over and over he said, there would be nothing you would find from beginning to end of Scripture that he said any more blatantly than, "Do not be afraid".
Listen, there is nothing fragile about our spirits. That our bodies are gonna drop off one of these days. Our bodies may be fragile. That self in you that Christ Jesus made new, girlfriend, there ain't nothing fragile about it. Ain't nothing fragile about it. Jesus said in Matthew 5:11 and 12, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". I want you to look at that third element. What were the first two? Fear. Everybody say, "Fear". What was the second one? All right. What was the third one? Fragmentation. Fragmentation.
Listen, you know, I don't really have to describe this much to you, because I can tell you right now you know about this one because we have denominational splits. We have church splits, and then the churches that split are now splitting, but one of the things that most characterizes the church. Let me just say the church. By that I mean believers in Christ as a whole, anyone who has put their faith in Christ Jesus for salvation and received him as Lord. One of the things that most characterizes our culture is a colossal loss of community. And listen. A divided house falls, and a united house stands, and so we just like, we split off constantly. People who were together have split off because then they get in a fight, so these split off from these. And then, these start fighting, and these start fighting, and these start fighting, and they all split off from one another.
Listen, before long we're gonna have denominations made up of five, five people, because this is what it's gonna come to, because we are a culture that is characterized by this constant splitting. Do you remember in Ephesians 3:18 where it says that we might grasp together with all the saints the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ? To know this power that is beyond us, that works beyond us. There are certain things that we really need one another to stand in together, to show up in our walk of faith. There is another kind of woman we could be. We could reject the strength, the divine strength that is ours to avail. It's availed to us, and we reject it, and what we could become instead is what 2 Timothy 3:6 and 7 describes. "For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth".
You will find the names of women all over the New Testament that could not have been further from weak-willed women. Mary, the mother of Jesus, Susanna, Joanna, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany were not weak-willed women. They had indeed arrived at a knowledge of the truth. They knew personally the one who is the truth. Euodia, Syntyche, who worked alongside Paul, these were not weak-willed women. Phoebe, Chloe, Nympha, Claudia, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, the mother of Rufus, who Paul said, "Has been a mother to me also". These were the furthest things from weak-willed women. Today is about calling women to strength, and don't you even think about reducing this to feminism. This is not feminism. This is evangelism. This is evangelism. It is disobedient not to stand in the strength that has been made available to us. He tells us over and over, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might".
We do not need to be raising little, weak-willed girls. They need to know who Christ says they are and they walk in that truth. This is faithfulness, and I hope to prove to you straight from Scripture that this call to strength is a call to obedience, discipleship. You all know that the ultimate picture in the Old Testament of the godly woman, the one that drives us the craziest, Proverbs 31 woman. But do you remember what it says? This is the "Word Biblical Commentary" rendering of it that says, "A woman of valor who can find"? Yes, a virtuous woman, that's beautiful. I wanna be a virtuous woman, but every other time that that coupling of Hebrew words is used in Scripture in reference to a man, it's always about a man who has acted heroically or has been mighty in battle or war, or somehow been faithful to his charge. Woman of valor. Verse 25, "Strength and dignity is her clothing". Strength and dignity.
Yeah, we're talking about cleaning out our closet, getting rid of some stuff that is not ours to wear, and trading it for strength and dignity. I tell you while we clean out that closet we need to glance in the mirror, and we need in the worst way to get our enemy out of our mirror, because I wonder if any of you would say the same thing I could say, which is I have been my own worst enemy. Oh, anybody? Anybody? I mean, like, the devil's been a real enemy to me, but lemme tell you something. You know who his biggest partner has been, his biggest co-conspirator? Me. I have teamed up against myself with him so many times.
I wanna ask you a question today, 'cause let's get to the bottom of this. At what point will we quit doing what keeps undoing us, sisters? Why do we keep doing what undoes us? There is enough in life to undo us that is out of our control. Why in the world are we undoing ourselves? As we're cleaning out our closets right now and getting stuff out, what we need to know is what we're putting in. One of Paul's very favorite imperatives was put on, put on, put on, put on, in his letters.
In Romans 13:12, "The night is nearly over, the day is near; let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light".
2 Corinthians 5:2, "Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling".
Ephesians 4:24, "To put on the new self, the one created according to God's likeness".
You heard Ephesians 6:11. "Put on the whole armor of God".
Colossians 3:10, put on the new self. Colossians 3:12, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience.
Colossians 3:14, "Above all, put on love".
1 Thessalonians 5:8, "Put on the armor of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation".
So, what does all that mean? 'Cause it's a lot to keep straight. It's a lot of layers. No, it's really one. It's really one. The apostle says it so beautifully in Romans 13:14: "Put on Christ".
If you are in Jesus, he already dwells in you. His Spirit is already in you. What the apostle is trying to get across to us is since this is who you are, and Galatians 3:27 says it beautifully, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ".
So, he's saying this. Look, listen. Know that you deliberately, so deliberately believe that the very Spirit of Christ lives in you that you just, like, you wear it. I just dare somebody, just dare somebody to put a little sign up in your closet that says, "put on Christ". Put on Christ. Take off what does not belong to you. Put on Christ. Walk out that door having put him on. Like, he's in you. You know, I wanna remember I belong to Jesus. I'm clothed in strength and dignity, and nothing can take that from me.