When All the Ducks Are In A Row

Posted By on February 1, 2011

Morning with Farmer and Pitchfork; His Wife Riding a Donkey and Carrying a Basket Giclee Print

Once upon a time, there were two women attending a conference.

After one of the sessions, the speaker called all of the women in attendance to bow their heads and pray. One of the women bowed her covered head, lowered her unpainted eyes, and clasped her work-worn hands in front of her:

“God, I thank you that I am not like other women, who pursued college educations, worked outside of their homes, delayed marriage or children, and walk around in power suits instead of floral dresses. I homeschool my children. I submit to my husband. I go to a family integrated church every week.”

Sound familiar?

It’s a version of one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and, yes, I took a bit of creative license. It’s much better this way:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ {Luke 18:10-12}

Here’s what I’m learning:

It’s so easy to sound like that Pharisee.

It’s so easy to feel like that Pharisee.

This article is for you, fellow Pharisee. You know who you are.

There is a reason why I live my life the way that I do. There is a reason why I am a homeschool advocate, why I live at home with my family, why I make it a point to embrace and promote biblical femininity, why I have chosen to walk the path that I have…

I want to bring glory to God in my every decision. I want to take every thought and action captive for his glory (2 Corinthians 10:5).

None of the things that Pharisee mentioned were necessarily bad things. In fact, they were very right and good things. But that Pharisee wasn’t thinking about God’s glory, and, so many times, neither am I. I’m thinking. “Whew! Thank goodness I’m not out there in the rat race like those girls.” “Thank goodness I’m not wrapped up in a bad relationship like that woman.” “Thank goodness I am not like other men…”

What I’m learning lately is not that the decisions we make are not important. They are. But I’m learning that they mean nothing when they are not offered up to the Lord as humbly as the prayer of that second man:

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ {Luke 18:13}

If our convictions do not flow from a heart that realizes daily that it is only by God’s grace that we evendesire to please him… if the choices we make come from a prideful need to exalt ourselves above others… if we cannot reach out to others with the glorious news of the gospel because we somehow feel they are beneath us… if our gospel begins to include steps that will make the hearers look more like us than like Christ…

In essence our righteousness does not exceed those empty works of the Pharisee (Matthew 5:20), and unless our hope is solely in the righteousness of Christ Jesus (Romans 3:20, 1 John 2:2)…

We are no longer walking in grace. We are offering filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We are loveless, whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

And we are not blessed, as that second man:

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. {Luke 18:14}

The good news? Well, the good news is the Good News.

We all fall woefully short in this area. The answer is neither to try to walk by the letter of the law, trusting in our own righteousness to save us… nor is it to cast aside all morals in a hedonistic free-for-all.

The answer is to proclaim and apply the gospel that quickens dead hearts and transforms lives instead of the behavior modification that turns virtue into an idol and whitewashes open tombs.

The answer is to lean on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not on our own exertions.

The answer is in our motive. Because all of the trappings of biblical womanhood are meaningless when the woman claiming to believe in “biblical” womanhood is more concerned with her own glory than that of the Author of the Word. A heart satisfied in Christ and fully applied to following him? That’s the goal.

Oh, what a sigh of relief, and, oh, what a balm for the soul! Oh, what sweet, sweet rest we find when our joy and purpose comes from seeking Christ and his will for our lives, and sharing our love for him with others… and nothing else.

Because what else do we really need?

Have you found Beautiful Womanhood helpful? Please consider supporting our efforts. Any purchase made through our Affiliate Links, helps us continue operating. Or visit our donation page to find out how you can become an important part of preserving Beautiful Biblical Womanhood. 

About The Author

Jasmine is the oldest of Voddie and Bridget Baucham's seven children. She is a homeschool graduate who enjoys studying and writing about areas as varied as theology, philosophy, political science, art, film and culture. She is also an aspiring author who currently lives at home where she continues to assist her father in his research, is completing a degree in English literature, has written a book called, Joyfully at Home based on her old blog by the same title and is blessed to assist her mother with the care of her younger siblings. You can now find her rambling occasionally at All She Has to Say

Comments

16 Responses to “When All the Ducks Are In A Row”

  1. Thank you, Jasmine! I think this is one of the best and most important pieces you’ve written. I’ve been thinking lately about how so often something good (a biblical principle) gets turned into a “system,” which quickly becomes an idol that replaces our focus upon Christ. When we love Jesus and look to Him, we will naturally become more like Him, because He is sanctifying and refining us; we don’t do it ourselves. But when we look at others and “measure ourselves by ourselves and compare ourselves among ourselves,” as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:12, we become arrogant fools, confident in our own “system” rather than in the blood of Christ.

    The greatest virtue isn’t virtue–it’s love (I Cor. 13). Do we love Christ? Then we will love others and think less of ourselves than we do of them. May God help us to die to self daily and live for Christ. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. southerngrits says:

    So good to hear from Jasmine again.

    Thank you for this post. It is so scary how prevelant this is in Christians today–doing right things for the wrong reason. But as usual there’s two extremes to every problem.

    “The answer is neither to try to walk by the letter of the law, trusting in our own righteousness to save us… nor is it to cast aside all morals in a hedonistic free-for-all.”

    So true!

  3. sarahmae says:

    Jasmine, this is so wonderful!!!! God has been placing these very thoughts in my heart recently. Thank you for posting this. YES, and AMEN!

  4. Becky says:

    Awesome post there girl! Much needed as well!

  5. sgtswife03 says:

    Without love we are a clanging cymbol. Thank you for these sweet convicting words. I so appreciate it Jasmine.

  6. stacyzwife says:

    Excellent post that causes us to truly search our hearts. While I certainly agree with you, we must also remember that the greatest difference is the gracious heart-workings of an amazing, sovereign Lord. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which has begun a good work in you will perform it unti the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

  7. Mary R. says:

    How easily we can fall into that Phariseeism. Good post!

  8. Amber says:

    This was so good! I’ve been feeling very convicted of this lately, but I never had compared it like this! It seems to me that as man (to a certain degree, although it’s still by the grace of God) we can realize our faults, but it’s not until we get scripture and BIBLE behind us that we really can change. After reading this I really do feel more encouraged to change my attitude at times, whereas before I knew I needed to change it, I just didn’t have the “anchoring” of my thoughts to do so. I’m excited to find that happy medium of sharing what and why I do, without acting “righteous”. Thanks so much :).

  9. robinclair says:

    Funny that I’ve been getting the same message from God as well. We must always remember that people are on their own walk. A woman may have come to a certain realization in the midst of a 2 career family with public schooled children and lots of credit card debt and is working very hard to get to the point where she, too, can live the way her pious friend lives.

  10. Tiana Krenz says:

    This is so beautiful, Jasmine. Thank-you.

  11. Caroline says:

    Thank you for this! I wholeheartedly agree with what you wrote. We are not saved because we wear a dress, homeschool, or home birth! It seems like people sometimes put more importance on outward appearance than having a relationship with God.

  12. Linsay says:

    Thank you, Jasmine. What a beautiful post!

  13. Captain Red says:

    Even though I know no one will probably read this I still wanted to say it.

    My name is John and I am a twenty-three year old Christian. I was home schooled in a Catholic program for several years. I believe everyone is entitled to their oppinion and I hope you all do as well.

    Now I understand that you all have a way you choose to live based on the Bible. I’m not against that. Being Catholic myself I think it’s wonderful that you have this strong faith.

    I’m not the biggest feminist in the world, but I disagree with pretty much everything you just said. Especially the prayer at the beginning. The points that hit me the hardest were: “I’m not like other women who pursue college, and I submit to my husband.”

    First of all, what’s wrong with a woman going to college? What’s wrong with getting an education? I’m in college right now, and there are lots of great people there. The majority of my professors are women. Many of them with families that they are raising, or are all out on their own. These women are brilliant. The same goes for my female classmates (not to take anything away from the guys).

    Second, “I submit to my husband”. No! I’ve been in several relationships and I know everyone has their own approach, and I’m not the foremost expert on love. However, I believe love is a partnership and no one side should have the final say. What I loved about the women I dated was that they were independent and headstrong, otherwise they wouldn’t be who I fell in love with.

    As a sidebar I understand that as being who you are maybe your hesitant about opening up to people of other faiths and life styles. I hope that doesn’t come across as condescending, because I don’t mean it to. I was like you to. I thought this way was the only way (although I always believed men and women should be equal watching how hard my own mother worked at her job), but there are many ways to live. One of my best friends is a pagan, another is gay and Wiccan. I have Christian friends as well.

  14. jasperst says:

    This is a nice article, well written.

    I have been reading this site a bit. Am also familiar with Dr. Bauchamns ministry.

    As a man who is a fairly new believber, I want to say that I greatly support these stances and these teachings and it is good to see that it exists. This is a Godly effort in a scary time in the US.

    I will also have to admit that I find the sentiment anachronistic and almost comical at this point as I have never even met one woman in my life who appears to respect or appreciate or want a man at all.

    I myself have been used and discared multiple times, even by my last attempt at a courtship leading towards marriage with a Christian woman who decided she just wants to be single. In the effort previous to that, she put international mountaineering first, which led to heart breaking abandonment for me. I have come to understand that these stories are routine for men these days, even in the church, where I see many unmarried and desperate believers. As a typically emasculated and discouraged Gen X man (like tens of millions of other men in our society now), I do not see much hope for finding (or keeping) a wife at all in this society and wrestle terribly with intense sexual frustration in a life of singleness. Women, instead of behaving as if they want a husband, typically treat us with total disrespect, mistrust, and even open disdain and many people are trying to live to a standard that is simply not realistic for a generaiton of people who themselves were raised with no parenting, zero support system, and no church or relationship with God.

    Relational flippancy has become commonplace even in the church and 40% of US children are now born to single mothers. I don’t know what we men are supposed to do in this life now except try to find a way and the ambition to do something Godly with our time and find a way to struggle through the desperate sexual frustration without falling into sexual immorality, until these worldy struggles pass away.

    I wont go on, I just wanted to illustrate what things look like to some of us men.

    I encourage all of you ladies to keep standing for this wholesome feminine role of women, now nearly a vestige of a bygone era. I have never met or spoken to such a woman myself. It is a beacon of hope in an already fallen society.

  15. Hi, John!

    I just wanted to respond to one part of your comment:

    I’m not the biggest feminist in the world, but I disagree with pretty much everything you just said. Especially the prayer at the beginning. The points that hit me the hardest were: “I’m not like other women who pursue college, and I submit to my husband.”
    First of all, what’s wrong with a woman going to college? What’s wrong with getting an education? I’m in college right now, and there are lots of great people there. The majority of my professors are women. Many of them with families that they are raising, or are all out on their own. These women are brilliant. The same goes for my female classmates (not to take anything away from the guys).

    There are plenty of articles on this site that will challenge your thinking about a college education, but I wanted to clarify that the tone of this prayer is supposed to be sarcastic. I first posted it on my personal blog, and here was one of the responses I received:

    This post made me smile and shake my head at the irony. I, too, struggle at times with the Pharisee prayer, only mine goes like this, “Thank-you Lord that I am not like those skirt-wearing, home-schooling, courtship-touting Christians…”

    Too often I get caught up in how my way of Christian living is better than others and forget that it’s not about me being right or knowing what’s best. As you said, it’s about leaning “on the finished work of Jesus Christ and not on our own exertions.”

    My pastor is currently in the middle of a teaching series about the transformation that occurs in our lives after we come to Christ. God has really spoken to me through these messages, reminding me that just as our salvation comes through His grace, our transformation into the person He wants us to be is also through grace, and not our own efforts.

    You and I have different views on many things but it fills me with joy to know we serve the same great God!

    And my reponse:

    I’m glad you smiled, Emily!

    I was worried someone might think that I was equating “other women, who pursued college educations, worked outside of their homes, delayed marriage or children, and walk around in power suits instead of floral dresses…” with “extortioners, unjust, [and] adulterers.”

    But you’re so right: we all do this, even this college-educated, job-seeking, jeans-loving, happily-single home-girl. When our convictions become self-motivated, whatever side of the spectrum they land on, we are in danger of being that Pharisee.

    You also said: As a sidebar I understand that as being who you are maybe your hesitant about opening up to people of other faiths and life styles.

    I’m curious to know who you think I am, exactly? I’m a believer in Christ Jesus. My sole purpose on this earth is as an ambassador to him. I am always willing to “open up” about the radical saving power of the gospel.

    Who are you?

  16. Cara Brooke says:

    I love this article! How often it is that we can get hyped-up on our own “goodness!”

    Thank you for the reminder of humility and doing things for the right reasons.

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up. Patience is a virtue; there is no need to re-submit your comment.

You must be logged in to post a comment.