Are You Open Enough?
Most of us have probably participated in a women’s bible study at some point in our lives. I’m a pretty big fan of them. I always find it interesting to think about the difference in tone between the first and last night of the study. Usually, the group has more to talk about since they’ve become more acquainted so there’s a lot more laughter and chattiness. But I’ve often left a group pondering if it was possible to go deeper in our conversations. I’ve been frustrated with how easily I fall prey to “small talk” and forget to really seek out the hearts of the ladies I just spent a couple hours with. I wonder if the reason we are so prone to shallow conversation might be due to our lack of openness. Could it be that we find it difficult to be honest and open because we spend the majority of our time being closed off??
I wanted to write a follow up to my post titled “Are You Needy Enough?” I touched on this subject a bit in that article but wanted to delve deeper into what it means to be “open” and why it’s important for the Christian life.
That You May Be Healed
When I use the words open or authentic here is what I’m referring to: someone who does not bury her sin (past or present) but instead uses wisdom to uncover those sins for others to see in hopes of receiving help or lending encouragement to someone in need of help. That’s quite a sentence. Let me break down what I mean.
First of all, I believe we should be transparent about our sin when we are in the battle.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Your fellow believers cannot help you if they don’t know what you’re struggling against. They can’t pray for you in the way you need if they don’t know what to pray about. Now, I’m not saying we should tell everyone about all our sin but there should be a circle of godly friends that you are openly confessing to. I have experienced this myself. When we take the cover off of our sin suddenly we are not fighting alone. We have brought another person into the battle with us that can pick us up when we’re weary, pray for strength and speak truth into the bondage of lies we’re believing. Burdens are lifted, accountability is formed and hearts can be healed.
Secondly, we should be transparent about our sin when in conversation with others. Let’s think back to those bible studies we attended. Was there ever a time of confession? Hypothetically speaking, maybe one gal opened up about sin in her life. Maybe she was dealing with something you’ve walked through. Something you’ve never wanted to share with anyone. God could want you to come along side her and encourage her in the battle. Do you lend your life example as encouragement or do you hold on to your pride and keep quiet leaving her to feel isolated? Isolation is the Devil’s best playing card. When we are isolated, the Body of Christ is not in unity and God is not glorified. It’s exactly what Satan wants. He wants that sister in Christ to believe that she’s the only one whose heart can be so wicked. He wants her to believe that no one understands. He wants her to question her salvation. And he longs for her to never be healed.
It’s amazing to think that one simple yet hard sentence could change her path. “I’ve been there.” And I have been there when these words have been spoken. Friends have confessed to me sins that I used to struggle with. I’ve witnessed walls crumble and chains being broken because they were humble enough to confess leaving the doorway open for me to provide hope and encouragement through the Holy Spirit. If you’ve been a christian for any length of time you’ve probably noticed that God makes no mistakes with the people he brings onto our path. So many times I have mentored women that are going through struggles that I had previously been freed from . I also have women in my life that have walked through struggles I currently battle. This is no coincidence. So often, the Lord allows trials and sin battles in our lives in order that we will use what we learned to help our dear sisters in Christ. When we do this we are doing the work of the Lord. If we refuse to open the door to our dark places, we are partnering with the Devil and isolating our sisters. I love this quote from a recent podcast I listened to:
“Listen, there’s not enough of telling the whole story, telling the whole truth in our women’s ministries. We leave so many women thinking they’ve got to look good, be put together. And they’re looking at us thinking we’re all just a bunch of got-it-together people. “No one in this church would relate to me.” But when we tell the truth about our story, and we encourage others to tell the truth about their story, there are doors of ministry and opportunity and relationship and community building that get opened up that would never have happened any other way.” Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth
I literally can’t say amen to that enough! I refuse to allow a fellow believer to bear her burden alone because of my pride!
Being “Real” is Not a Sin Card
I feel the need to say a couple things about “being real”. It’s popular these days to be authentic but I think there are some people in the Church that do so incorrectly. I’ve seen it so many times scrolling through social media. A woman will post a rant about her husband or something with fowl language and label it A okay because she’s being “real”. And surely in the comments someone will praise her for her honesty. But honesty about sin that is not paired with conviction to change is just bragging about our sinfulness. Deliberately sinning for the sake of “being real” and actually being real about our sin are two very different things. We are all sinners and we should be aware of it every day but it doesn’t stop there. Yes, we confess but we also repent. Jesus’ blood covers every last sin of his Bride but if there is not a desire for holiness we may want to “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.”(2 Corinthians 13:5)
A Dying World
Our world needs more Christians that are willing to be honest about the places they’ve come from. More of us need to be bold in saying “These are the filthy places I’ve been and here are the many ways God has redeemed my life!” The transparent believer’s life preaches the Gospel to a dying world. Have you ever sinned in some way in front of unbelievers? I have. Our immediate thought is usually something like “Man, I just said that in front of them and I’m a Christian! I’m not supposed to do that!” But whats the lie hiding in those words? “I’m a Christian. I’m supposed to be perfect.” Wait, where is that in scripture in reference to this side of eternity? Jesus came to save sinners, not the “righteous” (Luke 5:32). Those outside of Christ don’t need to see some kind of “perfection” you’ve put on display. No, they need to see Jesus’ perfection put on display. They need to see repentance and faith in action. They need to see you and I confessing, asking for forgiveness and turning away from our sin.
Wisdom in Our Words
This takes a lot of wisdom mixed with prudence doesn’t it? Obviously, it would be unwise and quite dangerous to open up to a man that isn’t your husband and you definitely shouldn’t put all your dirty laundry on social media. When going to someone about a sin in our lives we must choose a godly woman at all costs. As for helping others, it’s a case by case thing. Each situation is a little different. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to prompt us to speak or to cause us to quiet our mouths. He will provide the words if he calls you to action for your sister.
“For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints.” Proverbs 2:6-8
What Hinders Us
As humans, we want so badly to look further along than we actually are. We want people to look up to us. But Jesus is the only one worthy of such honor and yet he didn’t have the desire to look down on others. I think what hinders us from transparency is simply, pride. Humility like Christ is the cure. We need to decrease and he needs to increase (John 3:30). We need to be open for the sake of our souls, our sisters in Christ and the Gospel. It’s a necessity.