In this wild and crazy 21st century world, what does it mean to be a lady in your relationships with others? Even though it may seem so with some of the outrageous behavior of women we see on reality television and even the news, this question is not just new to us. First century women were struggling with some of the same issues. With some coming from Gentile backgrounds where anything goes, many of these women had to learn what it meant to follow the teachings of Jesus in how they encountered others. Previously we have looked at a lady’s manners and her appearance, and now we will consider her relationship to others. While the types of relationships we have may vary as a spouse, mother, daughter, co-worker, friend, etc., a few general principles apply to being a lady in whatever types of relationships we may have.
- Treat others as you would want to be treated –
This is a preschool principle but one that we have to keep learning over and over even into adulthood! The Apostle Paul even goes so far as to say that we should put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience just as we would our clothes each day. He also said that we should practice forgiveness and put love on top of it all (Colossians 3:12-14). In a self-centered world, we have to retrain our brains to be others centered. I don’t know about you, but I generally do not automatically think about situations from another’s perspective. I have to be intentionally thoughtful to consider another person’s point of view. Yet when I do, it generally changes my entire perception of the circumstances at hand. Taking a moment to pause and reflect on how those around us are feeling can change how we react to others amidst the stressors of life.
- Be above reproach –
Being a lady in your relationships means that you give no one cause to question your integrity in your dealings with other people. In the scriptures, Peter reminds Christians that we are called to be holy in all that we do just as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). It means that we should be set apart because we follow Jesus. Our pastor often reminds us that as God’s people we should “shine like stars in the world” (Philippians 2:15) by living blameless and pure in the often dark city of New Orleans. One way to determine if you are above reproach around others is to ask yourself if you are the same person in private that you are in public. Do you treat everyone honestly and fairly regardless of who they are and where they come from? Do you avoid gossip? Are you authentic? Examining our dealings with others in all areas of our lives can help us see where we may need to make changes so that we can be blameless and pure in all that we do.
- Be the example you would want to follow –
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, the Apostle Paul boldly encouraged the Corinthian church to imitate him as he imitated Christ. Are you living a life that others could follow because you are following the patterns of Christ? It’s easy to blame those around us for our behavior (Eve taught us that in the garden!), yet at the end of the day we are each responsible for our own choices. Whether we have great examples in person to follow or not, we can all follow the patterns of Jesus’ life. Do you try to be the kind of friend, daughter, spouse, mom, co-worker, etc. you would want to have? In our house we have a plaque that says, “Children are great imitators. Give them something great to imitate” because it is a reminder of this verse in Corinthians. As we seek to imitate Christ, we must remember that others around us are emulating us as well.
So what does it mean to be a lady in your relationships? I think Paul summed it up in Philippians 1:27 when he said,
“Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”