Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Overflow of the Heart

Leslie Basham: Why do we embrace God’s design for us as women? Here’s Kelly Needham.

Kelly Needham: We let God define our womanhood in each season. In each new season you enter, you look to what the Word of God says, not because it’s trying to hinder you; it’s trying to help you flourish—because God knows you. He made you, He knows how you work, and He told you about it right here [in His Word]. This is good for us!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of Seeking Him, for January 29, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Ever since Revive Our Hearts started, we’ve been encouraging women to embrace God’s beautiful design for their lives. Of course, that means at times to have the willingness to “swim upstream,” to go against the flow of our culture. We’re inviting women to put the beauty of biblical femininity on display.

It’s so encouraging to me to see how younger women have embraced this message and have begun to share it with the next generation. Kelly Needham is one of those younger women.

Leslie: Yesterday she showed us the problem all of us face as women. By nature, all of us love ourselves more than others—even above God. If you missed yesterday’s program you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com. Today she’s going to show us the solution to that problem.

She left off saying this self-love shows up in two main ways: trying to gain something that we want and trying to avoid something that we don’t want. Here’s Kelly Needham.

Kelly: I’m going to share a few examples of how that can play out. Like me, and many women, it might be marriage that you want more than anything. It seems to offer that promise of unconditional love and constant affirmation and emotional and physical security. It offers the hope of becoming a mother one day.

And so for many of us—if that’s what you think will satisfy your life—then your womanhood will be defined by finding a husband. You’ll do what I used to do: use men to get what you want. They’re no longer brothers in Christ, but just a potential spouse for you, to suit your own needs.

You arrange your day, your outfits, your plans around the goal of meeting a good man and marrying one day. This is a self-centered expression of womanhood—though it might mask itself in spirituality sometimes. It’s not one centered around God and His kingdom, but you and your kingdom (what you want), which, in this case, might be marriage.

On the other hand, you may have been abandoned by men, you might have been abused by men in your life. Maybe a man is the last thing that you want. You also don’t see men as brothers in Christ, but as potential abusers to be avoided. So your life may become defined by not needing men.

You live your life to protect yourself from ever being hurt again. Refusing to trust God to do that healing work, you take it upon yourself to protect yourself. But this, too, is a self-centered expression of womanhood. It’s not centered around God and His kingdom but you and your kingdom, namely, what you don’t want. In this case, it might be marriage that you don’t want.

For some women, it’s a career that is supremely important. Making a difference in this world, showing off your skills in the office or in ministry matters greatly. You desire significance. A career seems to offer that, and so your womanhood may become defined by a successful career, and you do whatever it takes to get ahead, to become what you need to become to achieve your goals.

You evaluate potential dating relationships by how it may affect this part of your life. You may not want to marry young because it may threaten to take away your freedom to pursue your career. This is also a self-centered expression of womanhood, centered not around God and His kingdom, but on you and your kingdom, namely, what you want.

Or you may be in love with marriage, this idea of marriage, and so the job you have now may seem like a threat to that. You may be tempted into laziness in the work that God’s given you to do right now because you don’t want to get too tied down.

You don’t want anything to inhibit your ability to meet a man one day or have a family, and so you may be tempted not to give your best to what’s in front of you. But this is just a self-centered expression of womanhood. It’s about you and your kingdom, not about God and His kingdom.

For many women, being beautiful is the main goal. You long to look like the women in magazines, to achieve a certain standard of physical beauty. You may believe that your worth is determined by the size of your waist and that your body is something you can use to get what you want: attention, affirmation, affection.

But this is a self-centered expression of our womanhood and our beauty. It’s about me and my kingdom, not God and His kingdom. Because of abuse, you may tend to hide your beauty. God is for beauty, by the way. He is beautiful! I think he made women to love beauty and love beautiful things as a reflection of Him. That is not a wicked thing in either way. But we can both want it too much or hide it too much for self-centered reasons.

And so for you in the room who have been abused, your curves, your physical beauty may have brought pain in your life, so you may be tempted to hide it. This is also self-preservation, a self-expression of womanhood and not trusting God, not looking to Him and His kingdom but looking to you and your own.

These are just a few ways that our sin manifests itself as choosing to be God, to play the role of God and define womanhood how we want it—based on what we want or what we want to avoid. I say all this not to condemn us. Because if you’re breathing in this room, if you have breath in your lungs, then you are an expert at self-centered living! You have PhD in it.

In fact, 1 John will say, that if you in this room even say that you no sin, that you are a liar! The truth is not in you! [1 John 1:8] So, you should feel encouraged by that. I do. [she laughs and the ladies laugh] It’s like, “Okay, I feel like I need Jesus and my heart is really wicked today without Him.” That’s good! I’m aware of that.

I don’t say this to condemn us but to help us become aware of how and where self-love is rooted in our hearts, because it can be cloaked in a lot of spirituality. If we don’t ask Him to uproot it and get rid of it, we won’t actually be able to walk out womanhood in the way God has designed us to.

David said in Psalm 51:5, “In sin my mother conceived me” (NKJV). From the womb, self-centeredness is a disease that we have had with us and inherited. At its root, it’s self at the center, not God. “Self at the center, not God” is the definition of sinfulness . . . and we all have it!

So the question is, How do we get free and rid of this obsession with “us,” with “me”? How do we get rid of that? We’re going to talk about our redemption, as women. There is one way—and one way alone—that we are rid of the horrible, infectious, never-ceasing disease of self-obsession . . . and that is faith in Jesus!

Faith in Jesus, then, is the only hope that we have to restore our womanhood to what it was meant to be. The essence of being a Christian is this: We recognize this disease of self-obsession called “sin.”

The rightful wages of sin is death—an eternity apart from God. In our own power and strength, there is zero we can do about it. There are no good works we can do to clean ourselves up from this because it is internal, it is in our hearts.

With Paul in Romans 7 we cry out: “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv. 24–25 NASB). Jesus alone can uproot a self-obsessed heart and replace it with a God-obsessed heart. And that is the heart of biblical womanhood, right? God at the center!

So that’s good news and bad news, right? God at the center is biblical womanhood and the good news is that Jesus can do it! The bad news is, You can’t do it. And for me—somebody who grew up in church, who wants the checklist of, “How do I get there?”—it affronts in me. “No, I can’t get there through my own good works!”

If you’ve never admitted that you are helpless and in need of Jesus for freedom from this self-obsession sin that’s rooted in your heart, then I’m asking you tonight to do that. I’m asking that you would invite Jesus to remove the heart in you that beats only for you—this is just bondage—and put in you a heart that beats for Him, freeing you to live for Him.

I want to talk about three ways that faith in Jesus restores our womanhood. What does that look like for us women? Faith in Jesus, first, means that we stop looking to ourselves and what we can do. Becoming a godly woman is not about a checklist. It’s not about seeing how good you can be. In fact, it isn’t about our works at all!

I hope that, for some of you in the room, that frees you. If you feel tired of trying to go through Proverbs 31 and check it all off . . .I don’t know about you . . . I can’t do that. I’ve tried! It’s not about what we can do. That’s good news!

John 6:29 says this: Jesus answered them and said, “This is the work of God . . .” So Jesus is finally going to give us something to do, right? “This is the work of God . . . sweet! Tell me what it is, Jesus. I’m going to work really hard for You!” “. . . that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (v. 29).

It’s always a let-down for me. I’m like, “No, but I want to do something real!” And He tells us, “That is the real work!” It’s a work of faith; you put your faith in something other than yourself. That’s the work of faith, and that is where womanhood starts—faith. Biblical womanhood is a womanhood that looks to Jesus, not to ourselves.

Secondly, faith in Jesus means we start looking outside ourselves and to what He did. So, if I talked about help earlier when I talked about us being a “helper,” I don’t know if that’s something that rubbed you the wrong way. I know for me, it has in the past, and other friends of mine, as we talk about it. It can be a hard thing to embrace that role, and so I want to explain how faith in Jesus can actually help us live in that.

Jesus is the Creator, right? He was with God from the beginning. “The Word was with God . . .” (John 1:1). Jesus did not begin to exist when He was born in Bethlehem. So, Jesus, being our Creator, left heaven. He left the comforts of heaven to come down and do . . . what? To help us! He came to be our Helper. He left His glorified place and suffered at great cost.

And you know what? No one recognized what He was doing. A few did, but most people were mad at Him. Most of what He did in the time that He was on earth didn’t get noticed, at least not in the way it should have been. He came to help us do what we couldn’t do . . . which was live a righteous life. He paid for our sins, and He lived out the humility that we refused to do, in our sin.

Jesus helped us! Jesus came to earth to do that. The more we meditate on Jesus’ life, the more beautiful it becomes to you, the more natural it’s going to be to want to live that out. It is crazy to me that Jesus, who says He holds all things together, let Himself be born! That Jesus who was going to die and suffer to pay for Mary’s sins; so Mary’s lesser than Jesus, right? His own mother, and yet He says He submitted to her (see Luke 2:51).

That’s hard for me, to get down on the level with my kids and repent to them. I kind of feel like I want to say, “You don’t thank me for anything! I do everything for you all day, every day, and I get mad one time—after you’ve thrown ten tantrums—and I’m going to come repent to you!?”

One time, one of my daughters before I did that (because I do that often; I need Jesus a lot at home!) turned around. I was kind of trying to calm myself down from a really hard day and apologize to her. And before I could get the words out, she said, “Mommy, are you going to apologize to me now?” (laughter)

It’s like, “Arrgh, yes, I am, in a second! (I’m going to go punch a wall and come back!”) Man! It’s hard for me to humble myself to my kids, because I feel like I am owed more than them! So, here’s Jesus our Creator—who is owed more than us; who’s deserving of worth and honor and worship—submitting Himself to parents (whom He holds together) who need His redemption.

The trees that made the manger, He let Himself be born in there, into them. He let Himself be limited as a baby. Man, that is crazy! When we will meditate on the humility of our God, to come to our level and live out what we couldn’t do, the more beautiful that becomes to you!

Man, that will naturally manifest as, “I want to walk out that! I want my life to look like that, and I want people to see Him in it!” Faith in Jesus means you look to Him and what He did.

In 2 Corinthians 11:3 (this is one of my favorite verses to pray), Paul is writing to the church, and he says, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Biblical womanhood is really simply that: womanhood devoted to Jesus, a pure and simple devotion to Him. That’s exactly what Eve was led astray from in the Garden in the first place.

So, third, biblical womanhood manifests through faith in Jesus. “Faith in Jesus” means we live for Him in every season of our lives—not ourselves. This is 2 Corinthians 5:15: “[Jesus] died for all, [so] that those who live might no longer live for [whom?] themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Jesus paying for our sins, living the righteous life we couldn’t live, rising from the dead standing victorious over our sin. He did that to free us from something, to free us from living for just ourselves! When we get bent inward on “us”—this weird, ingrown version of “me, me, me, me, me, me, me; I want, I want, I want, I want, I want; I want what I want all the time!”—that’s not freedom!

Rather, freedom comes from living for God and other people—an external focus for our lives. So what does that mean in the different seasons of our life? That means, in singleness, don’t live for yourself. Live for Jesus! It means being faithful where you’re planted.

Don’t just chase your desires, whatever they are—whether that be marriage, career, beauty—whatever tends to drive you. But seek first His kingdom and trust God enough that He’s good! He’s good for you. He’s not trying to hold things out from you. He’s not trying to keep good things from you. He can be trusted! Trust Him in your singleness. Serve Him where you’re planted, knowing that truly knowing Him is going to be better than any other thing you can get in this life, anyway. That’s what you have in abundance right now—time to know Him!

If you’re married, live not for yourself but for Christ. That means if the Lord leads you into marriage, and you’re scared, trust Him. Don’t say “no” to marriage just because you’re afraid, or that it might take away something that you want. Or if you really do want it, and God gives that to you, that’s great, but don’t let that pressure to fulfill you be put on your husband, because he can’t do that!

In marriage, the things that God has called us to as wives are not ultimately for our husbands anyway, but for Jesus. It’s to image God. And that’s the only thing that’s actually going to motivate us, in marriage, to obey those commands.

I did not feel like submitting to and following Jimmy’s leadership in that first year when it was really hard. I felt like lashing out and demanding from him that every time he’s on stage, “You better talk about me, and make sure no one forgets about me!” (I did say that—too many times!) And I remember thinking to myself . . . you can read it all through my journals.

“God, why can’t I do what You’ve called me to do? Why can’t I honor him? Why can’t I hold my tongue around him? Why is all this ugly gross sin coming out of my life and I can’t control it?” And part of it was, I was trying to do it in my own strength—partly—and not exercising faith. But it was also partly that I thought my obedience as a wife was primarily to serve my husband.

Well, it does serve him. But God really convicted me: “You’re here in this marriage, as a wife, to say something about Me and who I am. This is about Me; it’s not about your husband.” So my submission to Jimmy, my respect of him and my honor of him and the ways that I seek to help him thrive are not ultimately about Jimmy . . . they’re about God.

And, man, when I’m about the glory of God in my marriage, that motivates me so much and gives me so much joy in doing it! Because then, even if he doesn’t thank me, I don’t really care, because it was about God. It wasn’t about him. So, in marriage, if that’s where you are, that’s how we live for Him and not for ourselves.

In your job . . . I don’t know what career or what work God has put in your life right now. (And, again, work is not a bad thing for women; it’s a good thing, if God gives that to you. Work comes in many forms—paid and unpaid.) Wherever you’ve been planted and whatever job you have, use it not to serve yourself but to serve God.

If He’s given you a career and you’re thriving there and it’s good and obedient for you to be there, then you do it! You work hard unto the Lord and not to yourself that you might be a help where you’re planted.

And that means if God leads you out of a career and out of a job—for some reason, one or the other—then trust God with that. Don’t cling to it because you’re clinging to something for yourself. Trust God’s leading in your life.

If God gives you children, care for them! And not for the children’s sake, but for God’s sake, because it says something about God. Live not for yourself in motherhood, but for Christ. Be a worker at home, as Titus 2:5 says, a “keeper, a cultivator” of home. The world changes in homes, does it not? We are all reflections of what we grew up in, and nothing affects us more than our parents!

We have the privilege in our homes to shape and mold the next generation. And that doesn’t mean just if you’re a mom. If you have siblings, you’re an aunt, then you have an opportunity to let home life be something that’s causing the next generation to grow up and flourish and pursue Jesus. Let children in your life be something that’s not about you. Do it for Jesus, and know that He sees your unseen work.

Don’t let your physical beauty be something you live for or something you hide for selfish reasons or self-protective reasons. Let your beauty be something that draws people to you so that you can then say, “Look at Jesus. Look at Him!”

Embrace the call to be modest, not because it hinders your desires, but so that Christ can be the thing your life is pointing to, not your body, not yourself. Biblical womanhood is womanhood that lives for Jesus, not ourselves.

As women, we go in and out of many seasons: singleness, marriage, barrenness, motherhood, work, home. It ebbs and flows in ways that we don’t expect. I mean, God could take my husband right now, and I could enter into a season of singleness again. It’s been true for many women.

None of these are forever seasons; that’s why we can’t plant our identity there!

God, I pray that You would make me—and You would make the women in this room—women who are the right reflectors of Your awesome grace and kindness so that when these women live out the awesome nature of Your help to others, I pray that the people in their lives would look at them and go, “Man, I don’t know what it is, but I want to know more about who you are and why you do what you do! Because it’s awesome!”

May we be able to point many people to You, God, and say, “My God, this is what He’s done for me, and I want to do the same for others!” God, make us reflectors of Your glory, that we would be signposts pointing to something other than ourselves; that we would not embrace the cultural lie to be all about us—as beautiful as we can be, with all the stuff that we can have. No! God, let us reject it and instead say, “I want to live for something greater than that! That’s a paltry thing, to want to live for myself. I want to live for You, God!”

Please help us in this room to do that, that You might be magnified and glorified in the way that women and men interact with each other, the way that we serve one another and love one another, and ultimately, God, the way that we love You. Only You, God, can do this. And, God, you’re excited to do this! You love saving us from ourselves and giving us something better! And so I pray You’d breed hope in this room for change in our hearts, because You can do it, God. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Nancy: That’s Kelly Needham encouraging us as women to put biblical femininity on display and, in doing so, to put the gospel of Christ on display as well. Perhaps after listening to Kelly’s message today, you realize that you don’t have a good handle on what it means to be a woman according to God’s plan.

We want to help you experience the freedom and joy of living out God’s design for your life. When you give a gift of any size to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’d love to send you a booklet I’ve written called A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood.

This booklet includes a series of questions and Scripture verses that help us unpack what it means to be a woman whose life is devoted to Christ. It will help you understand God’s design for us as women and challenge you to evaluate how well you’re applying Scripture in your daily life.

Be sure to ask for the booklet A Biblical Portrait of Womanhood when you make your donation of any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Thanks so much for your support at this time as we continue calling women to experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Do you know that you’ve been invited to an important meeting? The most powerful Person in the universe has invited you to meet with Him and to have a close, personal relationship! We’ll hear more about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to experience joy and freedom in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV, unless otherwise noted.
 

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