Becoming the Women We Want To Be By Practicing Reverence
A Sacred Existence
Various translations capture this exhortation from Paul as instructing us “to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord” (NLT 1996) and to be “reverent and devout in [our] department as becomes those engaged in sacred service.” (AMP).
Commentator William Barclay’s rendering of this verse is similar: “Charge the older women to be in demeanor such as befits those who are engaged in sacred things.”
The Greek word translated “reverent” in this passage is a compound word that combines the idea of being sacred, holy, or consecrated to God with that of behaving in ways that are fitting, right, or appropriate. Its root meaning has to do with being “priest-like.”
That’s supposed to be us! A reverent woman understands that she has been set apart by God for sacred service, and she acts like it.
At all times, day and night, whether on or off the clock, wherever she may be – at church, at work, at home, or online – in public and in private, whether with family, friends, colleagues, or total strangers, she is an example of holiness. It shows in the way she carries herself, in her attitudes and the way she interacts with others. Her daily lifestyle, like that of priests in the temple, is always consistent with her high and holy calling.
Now don’t misunderstand this. Being a reverent woman doesn’t mean always talking in hushed and somber tones, walking through life as is we were tiptoeing through a European cathedral. It doesn’t mean being dour and downcast, always deathly serious, unable to crack a joke with a clear conscience. And it certainly doesn’t imply being legalistic and fault-finding. That’s not at all what true reverence is about.
To be reverent means living with the constant, conscious awareness that we are in the presence of an awesome, holy God. And God’s presence isn’t a place of dullness and drabness, with no desert on the table. Rather, it’s a place of abundance, of soul-satisfying pure delight. A place, as the psalmist declared, where there is “fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11).
And this is where we are to live 24/7 – as sacred people in sacred places. Recognizing that all day long we’re handing sacred moments and sacred duties.
A young mom and I talked about this the other say. She was feeling stretched, stressed, and scrambled by the demands pulling at her from every direction. When I tried to encourage her by reminding her that she is engaged in sacred service and sacred things, she protested, “But so often this doesn’t feel holy!”
I get that. The interruptions, irritations, and interminable tasks that occupy so much of our time and attention don’t feel holy – until we recalibrate our focus and remind ourselves that we are in the presence of a holy God.
Wherever we are at this moment is a sacred place, and whatever He has given us to do is sacred service. That means:
- If you are a wife, serving your husband is a sacred duty to be carried out with devotion and intentionality, out of reverence to God.
- If you’re a mom, tending to your children’s needs is a sacred duty, a daily offering to the Lord in whose presence you serve.
- If you work outside your home, the performance of your responsibilities, however insignificant they may seem in the big picture, is a sacred duty carried out in plain view of the Lord as an act of worship.
- If you’re a student, applying yourselves to your coursework is a sacred duty, as is your participation in class, your commitment to integrity, and the sacrifice necessary to make the most of your training.
- If you’re retired or unemployed, single or widowed or childless, your duty tasks and relationship are your sacred duty, to be carried out as a woman who lives and breathes and walks in God’s presence.
There is simply no hard dividing line between the sacred and the secular in our lives, no special compartment for those pieces and parts of our lives that pertain to our faith, with everything else in another, separate compartment.
No, it’s all a sacred exercise. Each of us, in whatever season of life we find ourselves, is to live in a way that is fitting for “those engaged in sacred service.” We each possess a holy calling, a high calling, one worthy of our awe-inspired devotion to God and His will. And we flesh out this calling each day by honoring Him with lives that reflect His character and exemplify our grateful, loving surrender to Him.
Being a Titus 2 woman – and training other to be the same – is not a way of life we can turn off and on. We don’t hang up our reverential demeanor in the closet when we come home and change clothes at the end of a long day. We are always serving in His presence, whether we are at home and in church or elsewhere, in our downtime as well as during our tightly scheduled appointments. Yes, we can still have fun and make the most of each other’s company. We can enjoy a good laugh, be silly, celebrate. But the most satisfying enjoyment of all will only come by being aware that we live each moment in His sweet, holy presence.
We become the women we truly want to be by practicing reverence.
Excerpt from Nancy DeMoss Wulgemuth’s Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2017), 93-96. This wonderful new book was provided by Moody Publishers at SWBTS’ Tea at 3 during 2017 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and may be purchased at www.adornedbook.com.