Sarah was a doubter.
Rebecca was a deceiver.
Tamar was incestuous.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Jael was a murderer.
Bathsheba was an adulterer.
Mary Magdalen was demon possessed.
Earlier this week, I mentioned that I hate the Proverbs 31 woman, mainly because her perfection causes me to feel guilty. These women, they do not make me feel guilty. When I read their stories, I am instead impressed with God’s ability to use anyone to bring about the works of His kingdom.
They were sinners. They were failures. They were human.
Why aren’t these the women that get discussed at Bible studies, women’s conferences and on Mother’s Day? Why are we always being reminded of the fantastic feats accomplished by Ms. Proverbs 31?
Take another look at that list up there…
Many of these women are in the family tree of Jesus.
Many of these women accomplished great things for the Lord.
All of these women were daughters of God.
Yet their sin is what gets highlighted. They are labeled based on, what was for many, one action. One misstep, and they’re disqualified from the honor roll. Their guilt defines them.
There are women I know who are working on moving past their labels: adulterer, addict, immoral, murderer. These women have turned from their previous ways, surrendered all to God and are now moving forward by sharing their stories to help others who are entangled in the same chains they were.
And you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate…It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”…but you will be called, “My delight is in her”…for the LORD delights in you. Isaiah 62:2-4
We’ve been talking about guilt this week. Yesterday I asked you if it was easier for you to give grace to others than to receive it for yourself. So often we extend to others what we are not willing to accept for ourselves. God’s grace is sufficient for you. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, your sins have been forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west.
Not only are you forgiven, but you are changed. The name you have assigned to yourself. The box that others have put you in. Labels earned through this stumble or that failure.
God has changed your name.
Don’t go back to answering to the old one. So easily we can slip back into that well-worn robe, because it’s familiar and comfortable. It’s scary to step out in something new. It’s vulnerable to say, “I’m changed!”
What if I mess up again? What if people reject me because of my past? What will they think?
Instead of worrying about these questions and more, we need to show them Jesus.
I was a sinner, a doubter, a deceiver, incestuous, a prostitute, a murderer, an adulterer, demon-possessed…
set me free, changed my life, paid the price.
And here’s hoping that in the future more of these women are held up as examples for us, or at least as frequently as Proverbs 31. That we don’t just hold up the positive stories of the Bible, but that we accentuate those negative stories that show God’s redemption and grace.
What has God changed your name to? How have you embraced that change in your life?