For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity (Prov. 2:6–7).
There’s no doubt about it—women were made for relationship. We are experts at gathering around a table in a cozy kitchen while sipping cups of comfort and carrying on in side-splitting laughter and heartfelt tears. Perhaps more easily than men, we willingly lay bare our emotions, admit our silent struggles, and seek out a companion who will smile, nod, and say, “Amen, sister!”
If you want proof of this, look no further than the modern-day blogosphere. With much ease and for little to no cost, women of all shapes and sizes, cares and convictions are able to set up their own little corner in the World Wide Web where they invite you to sit down and rest awhile in their virtual living room.
I’ll be the first to admit that many times I have truly been helped and edified by some of these blogs. Whether I happen upon the perfect recipe, a genius organizing tip, or the most timely encouragement to a weary mama, this vast world of communication has surely had its benefits and blessings.
And yet I was recently reminded of why we must be wise and wary women when it comes to our online search for reassurance. How comforting it can be to our troubled hearts to read about some other woman who has gone through the same thing. Sometimes it thrills us to know that someone else just gets it. But here’s the catch: The Internet is a world of warm and witty words that can all too easily find a welcome spot in our minds without ever being filtered through the bounds of Scripture.
Through the Lens of Scripture
In her book Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot writes:
There is, no doubt, a superficial sort of consolation and reassurance to be gained from sitting around telling how you feel about things. You generally find several others who feel the same way, or (what is even more reassuring and consoling) they feel worse than you do. But it is no way to come at the truth.
Even after we are made new in Christ, there is yet sin remaining in us, and this sin will seek to hinder us from being women who know, believe, discern, and love truth—namely, God’s Word. Instead of reading the thoughts of others through the lens of Scripture, sin will seek to make us read through the lens of emotion, believing and affirming whatever makes us feel the best or is most similar to our own thoughts or experience on the matter.
I am reminded of the women Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 3, women who were easily deceived by false teachers because they were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (v. 7). Let’s be honest: Women who are not firmly grounded in the truth, knowing what they believe and why they believe it, will be easily deceived.
This weakness goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, where Eve was effortlessly deceived by the serpent. She did not filter the enemy’s words through what God had said, but went right along with the thoughts and emotions stirring within her in response to something that sounded so good, so appealing.
Always Learning—For a Purpose
In this technological age of information availability, we have every opportunity to be “always learning”—and yet we also have just as much opportunity to never really arrive at a sound, solid understanding of the truth due to our sinful tendency to simply go along with what sounds good, whether it agrees with the principles in God’s Word or not. But God’s will for His daughters is that they would always be learning and in doing so come to a deeper, more accurate understanding of the truth.
All too aware of this danger of ignorance, Paul wrote to the Philippians, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9–10).
Let us ask ourselves, are we women who abound with “knowledge and all discernment”? Are we able to approve what is excellent based on what Scripture teaches? Are we increasingly filling our minds and hearts with clear and sound doctrine, and do our thoughts, actions, and words reflect it?
By God’s grace, we do not have to fall susceptible to the undiscerning, unsteady whims of our (or others’) experience and emotions. God has given us minds to learn, know, and understand His Word, and He enables us to increasingly walk in light of what we know. Furthermore, He has provided us with a vast amount of solid, biblical resources right at our fingertips, which help us to increase in knowledge and learn how to apply it to everyday life.
Where to Start
Where, then, do we start? Here are three simple challenges:
1. Care about sound doctrine.
In order to be wise and discerning women who walk (and speak and laugh) in light of the truth, we must first actually care about knowing the truth. The pursuit of sound doctrine and correct theology is not just for seminary students, but for all who are running the race with the desire to be “pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
If we go throughout life with no real concern to have a growing and correct understanding of Scripture, our walk with the Lord will inevitably be shaped by our own ideas, opinions, and experiences. If you find yourself lacking in this desire to know and learn truth, ask God to give it to you.
2. Read the best of the best.
Part of me wishes we could all go back to the day when websites and blogs didn’t exist and everyone held actual books in their hands. Nevertheless, despite the Internet’s many drawbacks, God has certainly used it to provide a wealth of sound spiritual nourishment for the masses, and we would be wrong to dismiss it as altogether unhelpful.
Blogs, online ministries, and audio sermons aren’t going anywhere, so we might as well learn to benefit from them, right? But the best way to do that is usually not through a general Google search, which presents way too many options and way too many opportunities to read something lacking in biblical soundness. If we are going to use the Internet to pursue spiritual growth and find encouragement in time of need, we would do well to stick to a limited number of solid websites where truth (and not simply emotion and experience) will be spoken. Here are a few suggestions:
3. Go to church.
Solid online ministry blogs are helpful. Women’s Bible studies with hot coffee and free babysitting are even better. But you know what tops them both? A biblical church with sound preaching and edifying fellowship.
Grounding ourselves in a biblical church gives us the weekly opportunity to grow in our understanding of God’s Word, discuss it with God’s people, and humbly submit ourselves to wise church leadership—under-shepherds who, like Paul, desire to help us abound in “knowledge and all discernment.” Sure, there will still be small talk and lighthearted conversations about last week’s potty-training woes. But church is so much more than a time to catch up with our girlfriends.
Not only is church an opportunity to hear and learn truth, but it’s also a way to root the friendships we have there in a mutual love and pursuit of that truth as we discuss what was taught. Furthermore, instead of browsing the web, we can go directly to one of our elders for further help in understanding. (When’s the last time you approached one of your elders with a question about the sermon or a confusing passage of Scripture you’ve been muddling over?)
Dear sisters, let’s be women who learn, come to a knowledge of the truth, and then care enough about sound doctrine to think carefully as we listen, read, and nod our heads in agreement.