Friday, August 3, 2012

Mary and Elizabeth: Rejoicing in Blessings

Sometimes I compare myself to other women.  Isn't that a shocker?  Sometimes I feel the need to compete with them, even if it is only in my head.  I'm jealous of Susie's yearly exotic family vacation (and of course the beautiful tan she returns with).  I feel smug when I compare Janie's monsters to my own angelic children (Fictitious example, trust me!).  There seems to be a never-ending list of things to compare.  Husbands, jobs, children, education, children's education, looks, money, houses are all tallied up in the scheme of how much better or worse I am than other women.  I know I'm not the only one to have these attitudes based on what I hear when ladies get together.  Even women in the church can be catty when it comes to voicing these jealous and prideful feelings.  

I don't think Jesus wants us to have these feelings, do you?  The Bible has given us some examples of how women react to blessings in their own lives and in the lives of the women closest to them.  On Monday, Helene talked about an instance of competition that was more negative with Rachel and Leah.  Today, I'll be giving the more positive example of Mary and Elizabeth.

Mary and Elizabeth were cousins and apparently quite close despite their age difference.  When the angel Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of the Messiah, she naturally questioned how this could be since she was a virgin.  One of the ways Gabriel assured her was to tell her that her cousin Elizabeth, an older woman believed to be barren, was expecting a child too.  Almost immediately, Mary went to go visit her cousin. (Luke 1: 35-39).  If any two women had an opportunity to have a spirit of competition, these two women did.  When pregnant, hormonal women get together, it doesn't take much for sparks to fly!  Mary could have bragged about her status as being the favored one of God (Luke 1:28).  Elizabeth could have been jealous of the great blessing Mary had received.  Yes, Elizabeth was pregnant too, but her son wasn't going to be the Messiah, and she had to deal with a mute husband her entire pregnancy (Luke 1:20)!  If these women had been so full of themselves as to be prideful and jealous, I doubt their visit would have even been recorded.  Instead, we have a beautiful description of how joyful the interaction between two God-fearing women can be.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, she was filled with the Holy Spirit.   Rather than being jealous,  she blessed Mary and spoke of how honored she felt that the mother of the Christ should come visit her.  "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!  And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? (Luke 1:42)  When I have an opportunity to spend time with women who are greatly blessed, I want to have a similar attitude.  I want there to be room for the Holy Spirit.  I want to bring out the best in these women.

Elizabeth's spirit filled greeting certainly brought out the best in Mary.  Rather than bask in Elizabeth's praise, she gives glory to God in a song.  In it, she shows no signs of superiority or smugness.  Instead, she is humble and thankful that her God has recognized her in such an awe-inspiring way.  "My soul exalts the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regard for the humble state of his bondslave" (Luke 1:46-48). When blessings are showered on me, I want to have such a humble attitude.  I want to remember that "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights" (James 1:17) and give glory where it is due.

The next time you get together with a woman who has been truly blessed, rejoice with her!  After all, we are commanded to "rejoice with those who rejoice" (Romans 12:15).  The next time you are showered with great blessings, remember to give glory to God where other women can hear you. If you practice these actions, I believe the tendency to compare blessings will disappear and you will be much happier spending time with other Christian women.  As always, we'd love for you to share with us.  Have you had a chance lately to rejoice in another woman's blessing?  Have you given glory to God for your blessings?

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. 

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