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Archive for November 5th, 2010

“It is not good,” said the Lord God, “that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Let’s assume a Biblical understanding of the word “helper.”  A “helper” (Hebrew: ezer) is defined as being an “assistant” or an “ally.”   Perhaps most significantly, it is a description of God Himself.  Before Jesus returned to heaven, He promised His disciples that He would send “another Helper” (John 14:16).  That “Helper” is the Holy Spirit who is described as a “comforter” (Greek: parakletos) or someone who appears on anothers behalf.  Some commentaries speak of the Holy Spirit as an “encourager.”   The Holy Spirit imparts truth.  Builds up.  Strengthens.

I am not demeaned or offended to be a “helper fit for” man.  There is order and purpose to everything that God does.  God is order, the opposite of chaos.  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet the three are equal.  The Holy Spirit is not inferior to the Father or the Son, but plays a different role.  Lives are affected through the power of the Spirit’s presence as He helps, comforts, and encourages.

In the created order, woman is not inferior to man but plays a powerfully different role.  Her presence and the way she chooses to use her natural power affects the lives of others.

Will she choose to use this power to discourage or encourage?  To bring pain or comfort?  To tear down or build up?

Man was created to be a good steward over all the earth, a defender of life, a tender covering over his wife, and the mentor of children and grandchildren.  But, he can’t do this by himself.  He needs the Word of God.  After that, he needs a helper.  That helper, said God, is woman.

How a woman helps, especially in her vocation as a wife, is explained by the way in which the first woman was made.  “The rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman . . .” (Genesis 2:22).   The Hebrew word for “rib” is commonly used for a structural component related to the side of something.  When speaking of a building, it may mean a pillar or beam.  But, when used in reference to a person, it generally means a “rib bone.”   In the structure of our anatomy, the rib guards the human heart and breath of life.  Martin Luther called his wife, Katie, his “rib.”  I am my husband’s rib.   The rib is a strong bone, but it is also easily fractured or broken, especially when under attack.  Women — and the men that women love — are vulnerable in a sinful world.

In this fallen and difficult world, a woman helps her husband by being a pillar supportive of his personhood and his vocations.  Those vocations, or callings, include his stewardship, fatherhood, employment on behalf of family, and respected place in community.  How does she do this, yet remain fearless in the face of her own vulnerability?

She clings to her identity as God’s creation and the treasure for whom Jesus Christ gave all He had.  This identity never changes, no matter the circumstances.  Some women think their identity is found in being a wife, mother, teacher, musician, care-giver, or friend.  Some find their identity in their appearance, popularity, or health.  All of these vocations and circumstances are in a constant state of change.  Our identity as God’s creation and the treasure of Christ never changes… no matter if our children grow up or we lose our job, best friend, or health.

When a woman trusts her identity in Christ, she is free to use her natural power in positive ways.  She doesn’t have to control the people or circumstances in her life, but can practice self-control for the good of her neighbor.  In a marriage, that neighbor is her husband.  She has the power to make or break or husband; to build up or tear down.

Some women know they have this power.  They make a conscious decision to assume control.  Some women are clueless about this power.  They may slowly and painfully destroy their husbands with cruel and insensitive words and behaviors.  Perhaps, feeling small, they try to build themselves up by tearing their husbands down.  Both kinds of women have the same core problem: Their foundation is unsure.  They have forgotten (or never been taught) their identity in Christ.   There is another woman.  She is keenly aware of the power entrusted to her by God; therefore, she strives to use that power for good.  She knows her identity is sure and certain, no matter the circumstances.  She turns outward from self to others and, in so doing, brings glory to God.

God’s Word in the book of Proverbs speaks of a woman’s power — and choice.   “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones” (12:4).  “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (14:1).  “A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.  House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:13-14).

The power of a woman — the helper, pillar and rib — is life-affecting and life-changing.  Disciplined, it is awesome.  Undisciplined, it is dangerous.

Will a woman choose to tear down… or build up?  The answer to this question doesn’t only affect men.  It affects children — for generations to come.

This ezerwoman will continue to ponder and think aloud on the journey.  In the meantime, you’re invited to visit Titus 2 for Life.

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