Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Beautiful Design for Women, Day 37

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Why are we so much more prone and quick to offer kindness to people outside our homes sometimes than to people inside our own homes? Why do we treat guests with more kindness sometimes than we do our own families? If you have a guest in your home, you want to wait on them hand and foot, right? Right?

But if your husband or your teenager has a request, are you more prone to think, Look, buddy, do it yourself? You've got hands, you've got eyes, you know where the refrigerator is. I’m tired. Now you may not say that, but anybody ever feel that way towards your own family? Sometimes our own families are the ones we least want to show kindness to.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Tuesday, March 28, 2017.

When a friend from church is in the hospital or has a new baby, what do you do? Well, many women spring into action buying gifts, making meals and showing great kindness in practical ways.

Today we’ll discuss how we might spring into that type of action for those closest to us. Nancy’s in a series called "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: A woman came up to me at the end of a Revive Our Hearts conference one day and started kind of spilling out this story of what God had done in her life. I said, “Wait a minute.” I wanted to capture her story. I said, “Would you send me an email and tell me that story”? So she did send me an email and here’s what she said.

My precious husband absolutely loves Mexican food. I do not care for it. So I usually just make it for him twice a year—on Father’s Day and his birthday. I came to resent his asking for Mexican food more often.

At your conference the Lord convicted me of my selfishness and lack of a servant’s heart toward my wonderful husband. I went home and told him I would make Mexican food for him at least once weekly.

Now that’s a practical response to a Revive Our Hearts conference.

He did not know what to say except that I did not have to do that. But now I really wanted to. And guess what? I’ve grown to enjoy it myself. God is so faithful and good.

When we ask Him to help us become servants, He also gives us joy in serving.

We come to a part in our series on Titus 2 that relates to the heart attitude with which we serve. We spent several days talking about women being keepers at home, being homemakers and just the practical, domestic opportunities and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Your husband and your kids need to be fed. They need to be clothed.

There are homemaking aspects, some of which are not glamorous—many of which are not glamorous—some of which are very tedious. And how many meals have you fixed in those years you’ve been married? And how many loads of laundry have you run? It may have been exciting for the first month or so but after thousands of those, you can lose the heart behind it.

I think that’s why as we go through this curriculum for younger women, things older women are to teach younger women, the quality that follows working at home has to do with the heart attitude with which these tasks are fulfilled.

Let me back up and just give us that curriculum from Titus chapter 2. Older women are “to train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled [to think with a sound mind], [to be] pure [to have pure hearts], [to be] working at home, [and then to be] kind" (vv. 4–5). Some of your translations say, “To be good.”

It's a word in the original Greek that is usually translated "good." In this case, in my translation, it is translated "kind." You say, "Is it good or is it kind?" It's both. There are shades of meaning between the two. It's hard to explain it in one word. But the word means "to be profitable, useful, benevolent, benefitting others."

Now if you go to the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians chapter 5, verse 22—you know there’s love, joy, peace, longsuffering—two of the Fruit of the Spirit relate to this concept. One is goodness and the other is kindness. These are related concepts. The word that is translated kindness in the Fruit of the Spirit is a word that has to do with having a kind heart attitude or disposition toward others. It’s a kind heart.

The word that is translated goodness in the Fruit of the Spirit and the word that is used here in Titus 2 is a word that means not just a kind heart, but kind activity on behalf of others. This word is active goodness. You have a good or kind heart but you don’t just keep it in your heart. You do something about it. It comes out.

Jerry Bridges talks about these twin, or cousin, qualities of kindness and goodness. He says,

Kindness is the inner disposition created by the Holy Spirit that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Goodness is kindness in action, words, and deeds.

We’re really talking about both here. We’re talking about doing the things that you do in your home for your husband, for your children, for your neighbors, for your kid's school classroom, for the people at church, the things we do in practical ways to serve others. We want to do those not just as duty, not just as things that we check off our to-do list, not just because we have an obligation, but because God by His Spirit has put kindness and goodness in our hearts.

The good works, the good acts, the things we do are the overflow of kind and good hearts. This active goodness flows out of a kind heart. It’s motivated by kindness. I think that’s important, particularly for those of us who are kind of duty-bound people. We’re going to do right as long as we have breath in our bodies. But I find so many women serving the Lord without heart, serving their families without joy.

By the way, this can be true of any kind of service. The Lord has spoken to me as I’ve been studying. Most of my good works and deeds and tasks are not so much in the domestic realm, but it’s studying, preparing to teach, writing books and things that some people think they would love to do. I say if you think you would love to do that, you have never done it. It’s hard work.

Just like your work in your home. It’s hard work and a lot of times it’s tedious. A lot of times it’s late nights when everybody else has gone to bed and you can start to feel sorry for yourself and thinking what do I get for this? Why am I doing this? Why couldn’t I have a normal life like people who get to go to sleep at night.

And you're up caring for a little one who’s sick during the night as my friend Mary Anne here experienced last night or making lunches for yet the how many thousandth time for your kids and thinking who even cares if I do this? Now if you didn’t do it, they would care. But who notices? Who cares?

We can start to get resentful. We can start to have self-pity. We can start to compare ourselves to somebody else’s life or wish for somebody else’s life and just be knocking out the tasks without the heart. But the Scripture here is talking about a motivation for serving, a motivation for homemaking that is goodness and kindness in action.

Now I think this is so important because it reminds us that this life is not about ourselves. It’s about others. This whole passage in Titus 2—in fact the whole of Scripture—is a call to be selfless women, not selfish, not self-centered, but Christ-centered and other-centered.

One commentator speaking on this passage says this about the younger women: This woman will be a channel of blessing to her husband, her family, and to others." She doesn't just receive God's blessing, she's a channel of blessing. "She will grow spiritually beyond the selfishness of childhood. She will be a conduit of the grace of God." Grace in, grace out. We've received grace; we pour it out to others. "Out of her innermost being will flow rivers of living water."

This is a word—this kindness, this goodness—that speaks of abundance. It speaks of the joy and the heart with which we fulfill our calling as women.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth isn’t done with today’s message. She’ll be right back with part two. But we wanted to cut in here so Nancy could tell you about a woman from Nigeria who moved all the way to Germany to get married.

Nancy: Leslie, once she moved, she found herself right in the middle of a really dark season. Her husband left her and married another woman. She describes that season this way:

For the first time in my life, I was all alone, all by myself in a foreign land—with a different language and a huge communication problem for me—with no family, friends, and money. I felt rejected, worthless and lost.”

And in that dark season, she tried taking her own life three different times. She said,

I simply believed there was no God. If there was, He would not allow me go through this. 

But God didn’t let her go. She discovered ReviveOurHearts.com and began reading the online articles. She said,

I was hooked: hook, line, sinker and boots! I was blessed out of my socks by the many stories of lives transformed by this ministry, and I knew, this has got to be it! I had finally got it—a group of women I could count on to mentor me, to teach about Jesus. 

Well, this woman watched a video at ReviveOurHearts.com that included a clip from Yadira, one of our Ambassadors living in Germany. This Nigerian woman immediately contacted Yadira, and they began a Titus 2 style mentoring relationship. The Nigerian woman said,

Who knows, maybe the Lord has brought me to Germany to find Revive Our Hearts for such a time as this. 

Wow, God can take the message of this ministry and use it any way He wants anywhere around the world. I love how He connects those pieces together.

The reason Revive Our Hearts was able to provide online resources and could support the Ambassador program that Yadira is part of, is thanks to those who like you who give and make this ministry possible. Right now we are facing a budget deficit of about $500,000. Without making that amount up, we are going to have to scale back on various ones of our ministry's outreaches. Would you pray and ask the Lord to provide and make up that difference?

Thank you for prayerfully considering what part God might want you to have in helping this ministry continue reaching women—needy, hungry-hearted women—around the world for such a time as this. 

Leslie: When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this week, we’ll send you a book by Carrie Ward about investing in your children by reading the Bible with your kids. The book is called Together: Growing Appetites for God. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Let’s get back to part two of Nancy’s teaching from Titus 2.

Nancy: As I thought about this quality of goodness and kindness and then what we’ve talked about in the last several sessions about domesticity, being domestically inclined, serving out of our home base, there’s a woman in the Scripture who came to mind who illustrates beautifully both domesticity and this quality of kindness or goodness. You read about her in Acts chapter 9.

Let me ask you to open your Bible, if you have it with you, to Acts chapter 9, and we want to look at just one paragraph. That’s all that’s given to this woman in Scripture. But I want to tell you, at the end of my life if a paragraph like this could be written of me, then I would say that I had lived a fruitful life.

Acts chapter 9, beginning in verse 36. This is in the early days of the church and remember the whole Roman Empire, the Roman era was a very evil era. People were extremely self-centered and into that context comes this newfound, this new infant church, which is so different than the world on every front.

This woman, Dorcas, is a picture of the contrast, the difference that God’s grace makes in people’s lives. Verse 36: “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.” So before Dorcas was anything else as far as her identity in this passage, she was a disciple. She was a follower of Christ. Let me say that’s the starting place.

Service flows out of being a disciple and a follower of Jesus Christ. Women who don’t know Christ can be great homemakers. They can have a lot of talents and skills. They can be good moms. They can be good wives in many respects. But they can’t be Christian true women because they don’t have the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that enables and motivates and drives what they do.

So Dorcas was first a disciple. If you’re going to be a true woman, you first have got to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and that’s what she was.

Then in the next phrase it describes her at the end of verse 36—and I love this phrase—it says, “She was full of good works and acts of charity.” Isn’t that a great description? She was full of good works. Good is that word agathos—beneficial, useful, profitable, benefiting others, kindness in action. “She was full of good works and acts of charity.”

She didn’t just have kindness in her heart. It flowed out in good deeds so others could see her good deeds and glorify her Father who is in heaven. And she was full of these good works and acts of charity. This wasn’t just a side occupation for her.

We don’t know if she was married or single. We don’t know how old she was. We don’t know anything else about her station or season of life, but we know that the description of this woman is that she was a disciple of Christ and that she was full of good works and acts of charity.

Now that means she was a blessing to a lot of people. She was not living a self-centered life. She was living an other-centered life. First Christ-centered and then centered on others. Then verses 37–38,

In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there [in Lydda], sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come to us without delay.”

Now Dorcas is dead. What in the world do they think Peter is going to do? Now we know what Peter did because we have the story and we’ve read it, but what were they thinking? Why did they call Peter? We don’t really know.

We know that they knew that the power of God was active and alive, but there hadn’t been a whole lot of resurrections. Jesus had brought a couple people to life, and He Himself had come to life but is that what they were expecting? We don’t know. But we do know that they wanted the man of God to be there to deal with this situation.

So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them (v. 39).

So here’s a woman who had had a special ministry to widows. She may have been a widow herself. We don’t know. She may have been a younger woman. She may have been an older woman who was an empty-nester. We don’t know. All we know is that her love for Christ flowed out in ministry to others, particularly with widows.

It was practical ministry. I mean hands-on ministry. Tunics and other garments that she had made. She had a skill with sewing. She was a seamstress. She used that skill to benefit and bless the body of Christ.

As I’ve pondered that account in recent days, I find myself wondering how will I be remembered? When my body is lying there ready to be buried, what will be the one-sentence description of my life?

“Oh, she wrote a ton of books.” “Oh, she was on radio every day.” “Oh, she was a hard worker.” You know what, those aren’t really the things I want people to remember. What I want them to remember is that I cared, that I was kind, that I loved, that I touched their lives in practical ways that made a difference.

How will you be remembered? I mean if your life could be summed up in just a sentence or two as we have here, how will you be remembered? “She was kind.” “She was good.” “She was a servant.” “She was a giver.”

Who will weep at your casket as they think about the ways that you have served and blessed them? How you have shown them the kindness of Christ in practical ways.

Now this call to be kind—and older women are supposed to teach the younger women how to be kind, kindhearted and kind in their actions—it’s not just a call to respond in kindness as opportunities present themselves. Many of us can do that. If someone asks us, “Will you serve, will you do this?” Well, we’ll do it.

I think it’s even something grander than that. It’s the call to proactively look for opportunities to be a blessing to others, to show the kindness of God to others, to take initiative. Looking around your church.

We go to church and there are so many people. We pass each other in the aisle and we say, “Hi, how are you doing?” “Fine.” Most people aren’t doing fine. Do we stop to find out how they’re really doing and what are their real needs?

I got an email a while ago from someone who attends my church. I don't know her very well. I know what she looks like; I know her name. But in an email she poured out her heart about hurts and burdens and concerns that have to do with this season of life. I could have passed her in church a hundred or two hundred times and not know that if she didn't take the time to communicate.

Well, maybe there are some people I need to go up to and ask, "How are you doing? How are you really doing? How can I serve you? Do you have any needs at this point in your life that I could minister to?"

God has put things into us that we need to pour into others. So this is a call to proactively take initiative to show kindness.

First Timothy chapter 5 describes an older woman who once she’s widowed is qualified to be cared for by the church. Sometime we’ll do a whole series on this text, but let me just read the description of this woman in 1 Timothy 5, verse 10. She has a reputation for good works. She has brought up children. She has shown hospitality. She has washed the feet of the saints—not real glamorous work. She has cared for the afflicted, and she has devoted herself to every good work.

Ladies, that’s the portrait of true womanhood. Those aren’t glamorous things. Those are selfless, sacrificial tasks. But they are what we are called to be and to do as women in ministering the kindness of God to others.

Now to whom are we to show kindness? Who should be the objects of our kindness? Let me just mention several here. First of all, our families. Why are we so much more prone and quick to offer kindness to people outside our homes sometimes than to people inside our own homes? Why do we treat guests with more kindness sometimes than we do our own families? If you have a guest in your home, you want to wait on them hand and foot, right? Right?

But if your husband or your teenager has a request, are you more prone to think, Look, buddy, do it yourself? You've got hands, you've got eyes, you know where the refrigerator is. I’m tired. Now you may not say that, but anybody every feel that way towards your own family?

Sometimes our own families are the ones we least want to show kindness to. Sometimes it’s because we’ve been hurt, but sometimes it’s just because we’re lazy. We take them for granted and we’re not thinking about kindness in our own homes.

In Proverbs 31, you see a woman who is showing kindness first to her own family. She will do her husband good and not evil all the days of her life. That kindness extends from husbands to children to parents to siblings, caring for those of our own household.

Then beyond that, the household of God, the family of God. Galatians 6:10, “Let us do good [agathos] to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

I came across an interesting paragraph in Deuteronomy 22 that is an Old Testament picture of this same concept. It says, "You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them." In other words, you are your brother's keeper. What's his problem is your business. "You shall take them back to your brother." This ox or this sheep that is going astray, you are responsible to be kind, to take initiative, to minister to your brother's needs.

"If he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house." Don't just pass by the other side and say, "Somebody else will take care of this." Get involved. "It shall stay with you." Now you've got an extra ox at your house. ". . . until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him, and you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment or with any lost thing of your brothers which he loses and you find." You may not ignore it. That's kindness—not ignoring the needs of our brothers.

"You shall not see your brother ox or his donkey fallen down by the side of the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again." That's kindness, goodness, kindness in action.

Then we’re to show kindness to the poor and the needy, those who are not able to help themselves. Now it’s not my responsibility to fix this problem, to solve the problem of world hunger or all the orphans in the world or all the needy in the world. God didn’t call me to do that, but He has called me to be sensitive to the needs of those that He’s put into my sphere of influence and to open my eyes and see who they are and to be available to minister to practical needs.

That’s what Proverbs 31, verse 20 says, “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Then not only to the poor and needy but—and here’s a tough one—we’re to show kindness to our enemies. To our enemies. You see, kindness is not based on how others treat us or whether they deserve it. It’s easy to be kind to people who will reciprocate or people who have been kind to us, and we want to reciprocate to them.

But we’re to show kindness to the people who absolutely do not deserve it. In fact, in Titus chapter 3, verse 3, there’s a description of what we used to be like before we were saved, and one of the descriptions is we were hateful. We were hateful. We hated God. We hated others. We were foolish and disobedient and hateful.

Look at verses 4 and 5 of chapter 3, “But when the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.”

When did He save us? When we were hateful. That’s when His kindness and His goodness came into our lives. When we as God’s children are kind to those who don’t deserve it, we show people what God is like. We reflect the gospel. We reflect the amazing undeserved kindness of Jesus Christ. He’s been kind to us. We pour out that kindness to others.

Then that passage in Luke chapter 6—it’s similar. Jesus says,

I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Then it gives a lot of practical ways that we can do that. It says don’t just do it for those who love you.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, [listen to this] for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil (vv. 32–33, 35).

For some of you those ungrateful, evil people are within the four walls of your own home. For some of you those ungrateful, evil people are within the four walls of your church. You’ve been hurt and you don’t want to be kind. If anything you want to be unkind. At best you want to just ignore their needs. But God is kind to the ungrateful, those who don’t even recognize that He’s been kind, who never say thank you. And to those who are evil. If He weren’t He couldn’t have saved us. But He was kind to us when we were ungrateful and evil.

Then it says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (verse 36). To be kindhearted and kind in actions is to be like God.

I received a week or so ago an email from one of our ministry partners. She said,

My husband of sixty-six years is in his fifth year of dementia. He is eighty-five and has been in ministry over sixty years. I am eighty-four and needless to say I have been under a great amount of stress caring for him. However [we had sent her a book and she was writing to thank us for that] through the book you sent God let me see my carnal attitudes and how I was not serving my husband in a caring and loving manner.

She was serving her husband but not with kindness. She said,

I felt so ashamed. I cried out to God for His forgiveness. I was amazed the very next day how much easier it became to do the same menial tasks and continues to be.

Kindness of heart will help lift the load. It won’t necessarily make all those tasks glamorous, but it will make them an act of worship, an act of real love. Serving with kindness of heart.

Father, how I pray that as women we would be kind, kind in heart, kind in actions, that the world would not be able to miss observing and seeing how Christian women are kind, thoughtful, serving, giving. Lord, one of these days when it’s our casket lying there, we pray that people will miss us because we showed them Your kindness as You have shown such great kindness to us. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: What an important message from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Will you someday be remembered by your kindness? What can you do today to help build that legacy? Today’s message is part of a series called "God’s Beautiful Design for Women."

Imagine having an honored guest in your home for a short time. They’d get your full attention, right? Tomorrow be reminded how briefly you have your children at home and learn how to treat them like you would an honored guest. Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Join the Discussion