Dear Gracewomen,

I was reading Philippians 2 and 3 today and I find these chapters to be such a blessing, even more so every time I read them.

  Christ, the Perfect Sacrifice

In Philippians, chapter 2, we find that Christ is the perfect sacrifice, laying down his glory in heaven, to become a man, a servant, and was obedient unto death for our sakes, "even the death of the cross".

Verses 5-8 say:"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

  Examples of "A Living Sacrifice"

The verse above says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus". Although none of us can ever deserve what Christ has done for us nor in any way repay the Lord, we, nonetheless, are given the instruction to become a sacrifice, in Romans 12: 1-2, a living one.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)

In the study of Philippians 2, I find that Paul put on this mindset and became a living sacrifice for our sakes. In verses 17-18, Paul indicates he believes his life is offered as a sacrifice and in "service of your faith". The scripture reads, "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me." Paul gave up his own will for his life and completely gave himself over to the Lord to carry out the Lord's will in and through his life.

Colossians 1:23-29 also says:"...whereof I Paul am made a minister; "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:"Whereof I am made a minister..."

Then I find also in Philippians 2, that Epaphroditus is an example of one who has given his life as a living sacrifice. Verses 25-30 include, "Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants...Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

So I see in the whole chapter of Philippians 2 the principle of what being a living sacrifice is. First, it is shown in Christ who was the perfect example and became our sacrifice and died for us, and then it is exemplified in Paul and Epaphroditus. We are told, in verse 5, to put on the same mindset, in essence, offering ourselves up as a living sacrifice as we are told in Romans.

I am sure I cannot begin to know nor have I experienced what Paul and other saints have experienced, in obeying these verses. I am sure it was a hard and difficult life each one lived in order to be what they were for Christ's sake. But in this chapter we have the picture of the sacrificial life, put into action!

  Women as Living Sacrifices

The question then comes up, what does the Lord expect of us and how can women present our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord?

We as "grace" women must seek to serve rather than be served. We must lay down our own desires and "vainglory" in order to serve the Lord, to further the work of the Lord, and to minister to the needs of those around us, that is, our husbands, our families, and fellow saints.

The first few verses of the same chapter in Philippians tell us, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."

Thus, a godly mother will put her children's needs and best interests ahead of her own. She will not be selfish and put her child in someone else's care while she pursues her own interests. Neither will this mother park her child in front of the TV, allowing him to watch shows he shouldn't watch, in order for Mom to have time alone. This woman, who loves her children as Titus 2 tells her to do, lays down her own life, sacrificially for her own children.

Also, the godly wife will set aside her own needs, desires, and agenda, and seek to minister to the needs of her husband. If a woman should be taught to love her husband as Titus 2 says, then she can be taught how to do the sacrificial acts that true and scriptural love demands. This wife will learn all she can about her particular husband and his individual needs and seek to minister to him in the ways she can and should. "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Wives, this means us!

The godly woman will also seek to minister to the needs of the saints that the Lord has put in her life. The women mentioned in I Timothy 5:10 who have served the Lord faithfully have done just that.

The verse lists some of the good works of an older woman. This woman is, "Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work."

This woman did good works! First, she raised her children well. Others knew of the good job she did in raising her children! We know this because the verse says she is "Well reported of..."

Next the verse says she lodged strangers. This means she was very hospitable. She invited travelers into her home, she prepared and cooked meals for them, generally served them in any way she could. She was a servant to the saints who came into her life. She "washed the saints' feet". Washing someone else's feet is a very humbling thing to do. This woman humbled herself enough to do the practical things and the difficult things that would help others.

Lastly, this woman "relieved the afflicted". This could mean she ministered to those in need, spiritually, emotionally, or physically, or probably all three. Proverbs 31 says of the virtuous woman, "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." Helping the poor is just one of many practical ways that women can minister to others. A godly woman will witness when given the opportunity. She will show others the truths she knows from scripture, yet she will also be helpful and minister in physical, practical ways, "looking on the things of others".

The godly woman will not necessarily do all of the above, but she will do what she can as the Lord gives her opportunity. And too, Bible study, prayer, and witnessing are very necessary for a woman to please the Lord, but the scriptures should produce good works also, in physical things, in the godly woman. Titus 3:14 as well as the verses above and others, bear this out. Titus 3:14 says, "And let our's also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful."

Yes, women, we cannot sit around and fold our hands when there are those around us who need to be ministered to. I pray that it would be said of all "grace" women that, "she have diligently followed every good work", as the verse in Timothy tells us.

I cannot close this study without going on to Philippians, chapter 3. It adds even more to these thoughts on the sacrificial life where, in verses 10-15, Paul says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death..."

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

I hope and pray you will study these chapters, too, and I know when you do, they will bless you also. May we all be conformed more and more into the image of His Son and seek to serve rather than be served.

Mary Atwood