By Dcs. Heidi Goehmann
I have a big mouth. It’s no secret. I have worked really hard over the years to get it a little bit under control and I’m happy to say that age and experience have brought me to a slightly better place of keeping my foot out of my mouth. However, dignified is not my strong suit. I tend towards compassionate, but unfailingly honest.
So, 1 Timothy 3:8-11 and I never quite gelled. Well to be more honest, take a closer look at verse 11 and you’ll see my problem:
“Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”
Alright, slandering I can stay away from. I can even be sober-minded most of the time, concerned about things eternal, things that matter; but dignified. Yikes. Most Sundays I’m working hard to simply keep it together, as it were.
Why does all this matter? Because in searching the Scriptures, there are many different words for honor, with various definitions. But the Greek word used here is semna, which can mean dignified, serious, weighty, or deeply respected because it has majesty/because it is worthly of awe*. So there are some options. Deeply respected certainly helps us understand it more, particularly in the context of our churches. Do you know another woman of God in your community that is deeply respected, who you deeply honor? Do you even know someone who you hold up with a little bit of awe or weight?
I do, and I pray you do too! What a blessing these women of influence are in our lives. God, in these verses in Timothy invites all of us, each as women of Christ, to be semna, worthy of a bit of awe and honor, and I don’t doubt that you probably are to someone around you and you have no idea.
You see, I’m not so sure I’m awe inspiring, but I know that God working in me is. Oh yes, He is! Whether it’s in quiet words of Truth or compassion undaunted, or friendship extended, forgiveness proclaimed – God’s light shining purposefully through us is always honorable, always worthy of awe, with more than a touch of majesty. Our semna is always Him, flowing through us.
The question is whether we want to tamp down the light, not whether it’s there. Do we let Him use us? Do we leave an open space in our hearts where dignity and honor can reside or do we fill it with unforgiveness, distrust, and bitterness? Do we let Him have His way with the influence we can be, or do we wrap ourselves up, away from His people, to stay safe from hurt, to spare energy?
He wants to use us, and He will, no matter what we do or say. His Grace and Mercy is not dependent on my participation. But praises to Him, who invites me to be just a little piece of His majesty, His awe, and certainly His honor during my short time on this planet.
Heads held high! Dignified. We’ve got work to do. Kingdom work.