How would you define the idea of "pure?"
Is it how Procter and Gamble describes Ivory soap since the 1800's, "99.44% pure?"
That slogan has always struck me as impossible-if something is pure, shouldn't it be without any impurity, 100 percent completely pure?
As our writer, Barbara Wilson, explores the characteristic of purity in a woman, her focus is the heart. How do we present a heart completely, one hundred percent devoted and pleasing to God? I'm so thankful Barbara directs us to the truth of the "pure milk" of the Word. My prayer for us women is that we all put our hope on Him and His return-resulting in humble, undivided hearts for God.
"And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).
All for Him,
Teaching the Younger Women to be Pure
by Barbara Wilson (Grace Community Church of Cary, Cary, North Carolina)
First of all, let me say that I have absolutely loved getting your monthly teachings on Titus 2. I have cherished each one of them and have learned so much! What a great idea to dish out each segment and have someone expound on it. What a true motivation for me!
So, the topic I chose was pure. I thought it would be a challenge, since it's not something I necessarily dwell on. All of the phrases that surround the admonition to be pure are phrases that seem to be much easier to measure: encourage the young women to love their husbands, love their children, be sensible, workers at home, etc.
But the word pure is stuck in there and to be quite honest with you, I tend to skip over that one, not giving much thought to it. Pure is that four-letter word we may not pay much attention to because we are too busy trying to love our husbands, our children, and be amazing workers at home.
So, why is pure stuck right there in the middle of it all?
Well, I started going through the Bible looking for what it means to be pure. Interesting that we are told to be an "adjective" when we are surrounded by phrases that include such tangible verbs. Even though pure is found many times in His Word, several verses jumped out at me. So, what are some things that are pure?
Job 11:4 says God's teaching is pure. Psalm 12:6 says the words of the Lord are pure. Psalm 19:8 says God's commandments are pure. Proverbs 15:26 says pleasant words are pure. I Timothy 1:5 tells us the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart. And 1 Peter 2:2 talks about the pure milk of the Word. Well, this is all well and good, but I confess I needed more.
So I turned to the good old dictionary, which I found pretty challenging. Of course there are many definitions, but the one that stood out to me was, "free from adulterants or impurities; full-strength." That really challenged me--what does it mean to be full strength for God, free from adulterants or impurities?
As I continued to search the Word, I found James 4:8. It says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinner; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
Finally! A verb I could act upon...purify my heart.
And verse 10 concludes with, "Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." That's it! Purifying my heart means to humble myself in the presence of the Lord! Of course that takes conscious, daily work, but let me ask you:
Are you humble before God? Are you confessing sin, continuously sloughing off the junk in your heart that may keep you from standing blameless before God? I had to ask myself these serious questions and take earnest inventory of my heart.
We all know what it's like to have such a busy week that the necessary chores at home just don't get done. Shoes pile up by the front door, clothes (both clean and dirty) pile up in the hampers and on the sofas, dirty dishes fill the sink, and beds remain unmade. We finally get to the point where we say "Enough! We're all going to focus on cleaning our house and putting away all the clutter...now!"
How good it feels to finally get our house back to a state of cleanliness. We vow AGAIN that we will be more disciplined to put things where they belong throughout the day so that the clutter doesn't return.
This is what we need to do throughout the day with our heart.
Are we conscious throughout the day to cleanse our hearts? Do we engage in gossipy conversation? Confess it immediately, throw that sin in the trash and celebrate that person. Do you harbor bitterness? Confess, trash it, and find a way to bless the person who hurt you. Tell a lie? Put it in the trash and speak truth. How about anger? Confess, throw it out of your heart, and cancel the debt!
Get the idea? We serve a holy and pure God. Habakkuk 1:13 tells us His eyes are too pure to approve evil. He cannot approve anything impure in our heart and we shouldn't either.
Martin Luther said that we cannot control birds flying over our heads, but we can keep them from nesting in our hair. We can't keep Satan from tempting us and firing those flaming arrows at us, but we can keep sin from rooting in our hearts. Confess that sin quickly and replace it with the purity of God's Word (a kind teaching or a pleasant word). First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Another area of purity we are all involved in is modesty. With most of the women in our church being college students, modesty is something we deal with regularly. My experience is that many of the young women coming through our doors on Sunday are pretty naive about their dress and how it affects the men.
Being in my 50's, I know I am a "mother" figure to these women, so I don't feel badly encouraging our young women to dress modestly and discreetly, with no cleavage showing and no clothing with words going across their chest or behind. Although I believe modesty begins in the heart, I love my brothers in the church too much to let them get tempted by immodest women.
Ladies, we all want to be full strength for God; free from adulterants or impurities. We must purify ourselves daily. Let's make confession and renewal as much a part of our lives as keeping our house continuously neat and tidy. Without a pure heart we won't see God (Matthew 5:8). And if we don't see God work in our lives we cannot truly love our husbands and children, be sensible, or all the other things God asks us to do in Titus 2. Our actions will be superficial at best.
James 4:10 reminds us that as we humble ourselves in God's presence, He will exalt us! Hallelujah!
If you would like to respond to Barbara, email firstname.lastname@example.org.