“Contentious”

I am loving a simple, single thread of thought in Chapter 2 of Becoming God’s True Woman.  She reminds us of what true beauty is in 1 Peter 3:3-6, something which I have heard many times since my walk with Christ began.  And while it is a valuable, timely word of truth, the author pulled out a little gem that I had not known before and was delighted to hear:

I’m glad Peter chose Sarah to be the poster girl for “a gentle and quiet spirit,” because that wasn’t characteristic of her in her youth. She started life as Sarai, meaning “contentious.” That name accurately describes some of the accounts of her life as a younger woman. She displayed jealousy, she was manipulative and cynical, and she was downright mean in the way she treated Hagar.

DeMoss, Nancy Leigh (2008-10-31). Becoming God’s True Woman (Kindle Locations 616-619). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

Contentious is a good word to describe me.  Jealous, manipulative, cynical, mean.  Yes.  Yes I am.  And she goes on further to in the passage to remind us of God’s business in changing men and women for His own glory, reflecting in them Himself.  He changed Sarai to Sarah, which means “Princess”.

How does a woman go from being contentious to a princess?  To possess the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, even when very obviously, it is not in her character or nature to be either gentle or quiet?  Looking at the life of what we know of Sarah, we can see a woman slowly changed as she looked to God in trust and faith. But we see in 1 Peter 3:3-6 something we would not normally put together.  That as women, we are exercising our faith and trust in God by obeying our husbands.  Because God has given him to us as our shield and protector and provider.  This doesn’t mean, and please don’t take it to mean, we willingly embrace abuse in the course of our obedience.  That is a sinful, desperate, dangerous situation to flee from and seek godly help.  But, for a husband who loves his wife we should be obedient even in the face of a bad idea. Or a failure.  Maybe the loss of a job.  Or a move.  Or a radical change in circumstances.  Our beauty comes from resting and knowing that God, in all things, is in control.  Even in the most dire of circumstances.  And while it may be in our nature to be contentious…quarrelsome and causing strife with others, our husbands or even with God Himself, it is being rooted in that thought of He is in control that we can slowly, by His grace, trust in Him.  Until we can say

Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. (Job 13:15a)

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