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Volume 13, Issue 5: Femina

Careless Women

Nancy Wilson

Careless living is easy. It requires little thought. In fact, that is the whole problem. Carelessness really boils down to thoughtlessness, and Christian women, whether old or young, married or unmarried, ought to be thinking women, women who are careful to keep God's commands.

Proverbs 19:16 in the King James says, "He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die." It's interesting that what is "careless" in some newer versions is rendered "despising" in the older. But really, when we do not take heed to our souls, we are in fact despising them, killing them. Keeping and heeding are healthy activities for the soul. Both these activities require attention and diligence.
Carelessness comes in many forms, and the verse above uses the general term ways to cover every aspect of living. Rather than being careless of our ways, Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to commit our way to Him, to acknowledge Him in all our ways, to learn and walk in His ways. This is an all-encompassing call to obedient living. Obedience requires thought and care, attention and diligence. It is not easy like careless living.
Christian women are careless for different reasons. It may be caused by a lack of good teaching, it may be the result of immaturity, it may be a conscious choice to push it, a poor understanding of liberty in Christ, or it may simply be hard-heartedness. Whatever the case may be, the call to careful living is the same for us all. So the cause of the carelessness is not the issue here, but rather the need to forsake careless living.
As we consider a couple of areas where carelessness often shows up, I want to make it clear that these are not the only two. A woman can be careless in her prayer life, careless in her theology, careless in her choice of a husband. It include issues like study habits, cleaning habits, eating, working, sleeping. It can include how the emotions are indulged, or what kind of entertainment is allowed. In other words, if we are to take heed to our souls, we must be alert on all fronts. But with that qualifier, I would like to address two specific areas of carelessness: modesty and the tongue.
Women are careless in their ways when they dress in a manner that is too revealing. It doesn't seem to matter how often modesty is addressed, the careless woman will continue to dress to please herself, which is often too provocatively. A careless woman may or may not know that she is bouncing along in her sweater or that when she sits down in her short skirt, too much is seen. If she knows and is wearing these clothes intentionally, she is careless. If she doesn't know and would be horrified to find out, she is careless. Whether she is a teenager, a college student, a young mother, or even a grandmother, the standard is the same. Modesty is for Christian women of all ages. It is not something that comes into effect at age sixteen, after marriage, or after the third child. A careful woman dresses in a manner that not only demonstrates her obedience to God's commands, but also shows a kind consideration for her fellow saints. When a Christian woman is dressed immodestly, it is at the very least an embarrassment, or a distraction to her fellow saints. At the most, it is a pastoral problem for the church.
Because of the rampant immodesty in the Church, it is no wonder some Christian women have resorted to dressing like prairie muffins in clothes that were in style in the covered-wagon days. Though they may look out of step with the modern world in a calico dress and bonnet, at least we cannot charge them with immodesty. I am not advocating dressing this way, but I am saying that an immodest "fashionable" woman has no grounds to make fun of her sisters in jumpers. If only we could learn to dress carefully, modestly, and beautifully. Certainly it must be possible.
A second area of carelessness is the tongue. Careless women do not take heed to what they share, what they repeat, what they criticize. Scripture is as clear on the subject of the tongue as it is on modesty. It is no mystery what the Bible requires. Gossip, slander, complaining, nagging, anger, lying are all out. Period.
Careless women talk too much on the phone, or share too much on email. They don't speak the truth; they fudge a little here, a little there. They speak to and about their husbands inappropriately. They talk when they should be keeping quiet. A careful woman does not share things about family, husband, parents, or children that should be kept confidential. She does not openly criticize or dis-respect her husband or parents. A careful woman exercises caution in what she says. The tongue is a dangerous instrument for destruction or a powerful tool for good. Wise women use their tongues cautiously. They weigh their words before they utter them.
Obviously, to be careful women we need much grace: grace for forgiveness, grace to keep His commands. We must take heed to our ways. We must give thought to our ways. We must pay attention to our behavior. Are we careless in our dress? If so, it's time to purge the wardrobe of revealing clothing. Are we careless with our tongues? Then it is time to repent. God expects us to be earnestly seeking to please Him, by the grace He gives us.

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