Sisters In Modern Times
Sisters In Business
Introduction • Sisters In Business
SEVENTY years have passed since the foregoing pages of wise and valued counsel were penned by our beloved Sister Roberts. During that period vast changes have taken place in the world, which have brought new problems, trials, and temptations to the sisters of Christ. The sheltered life characteristic of the Victorian era has given place to the exposed conditions of modern times. The standards of morality have deteriorated to the level of the Noahic age. Facilities for pleasure and amusement have greatly increased. The so-called emancipation of women, and the modern doctrine of the "equality of the sexes" have seriously undermined divine teaching concerning woman's position. The entrance of women into the industrial and commercial sphere, demanded by the necessity of earning a living, has brought problems to sisters unknown to the contemporaries of Sister Roberts, whilst the claims of a condition of "total war" have involved sisters today in problems of civil defence, firewatching, war-work, etc., which were unheard of a generation ago. Married women are not exempt from these pressing claims, and, moreover, those with children have anxieties peculiarly their own. The influence of modern education, the "disobedience to parents" which Paul declared would characterize the last days, the universal godlessness and irreligion of the times, are powers against which the "mother in Israel" must battle daily. It is the object of these supplementary chapters to consider these various problems, and to offer helpful advice to sisters in the cultivation of that holiness and sobriety, upon which depends their acceptance at the hands of Christ in the day of His coming.CHAPTER 1.
MOST unmarried sisters, and a few married ones, are engaged today in business life in an office, shop, factory, farm or hospital. How should they comport themselves?
The world they have to face is the product of the carnal mind, which says Paul, "is not subject to the law of God." Its evil ways are exhibited in the behaviour, speech and attire of many women in business, whose general attitude is comparable to that of the "daughters of Zion." They were "haughty, and walked with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes," and the daughters of the Gentiles today are no better.
Into such unholy society, many sisters of Christ necessarily venture forth to earn a living. In so doing they shoulder a very great responsibility, for they go as sheep among wolves, as lightbearers to a dark and degenerate people, as sisters of Christ amidst the children of this world. Many have been "brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" from early days. Can they now stand the test? Others, in years of maturity, have renounced the "bidden things of dishonesty" in favour of the purity and peace of the gospel. Can they maintain their integrity? All must remember that they are not their own-they have been purchased with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and He demands their unswerving loyalty and devotion.
"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" This is the frame of mind to adopt as the guiding principle in pursuing the daily avocation. It provides a strong antidote to the encroachment of worldly pleasures, and a powerful incentive to the cultivation of a Christ-like disposition. It induces an earnest and thoughtful demeanour, a quiet and modest deportment, and a holy and contrite spirit, such as was displayed by the Lord Himself.
Such beautiful characteristics will find expression in many practical ways. The sister of Christ will be sincere, conscientious and sober-minded. She will avoid the flippancy and instability of her feminine associates, among whom she will be held in respect, though not in favour. She will refrain from the "small talk" and foolish gossip of the more empty-headed of her contemporaries, and still more, from the backbiting and slandering in which they indulge. These hurtful activities taint human society everywhere, and provide ample reason why the sister of Christ should keep separate from the world, in obedience to Apostolic command. (II Corinthians 6:17.) Her general deportment will be such that her work-fellows will "take knowledge that she has been with Jesus." She will not be haughty, nor disdainful, nor selfassertive. By no means will she be "fast," or "common." Instead, she will be modest, to the point of reserve, almost too much so for the liking of her more pushful colleagues. Always courteous, she will never be rude or arrogant; ever ready to help, but never a busy-body. Her great aim will be to manifest the "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24.)
How exalted in this calling! A wise sister will devote every waking moment to the attainment of its lofty standard.
Similar principles govern the choice she exercises in her style of dress. Slovenly, untidy, unsuitable clothing, betoken a disorderly mental state, and will find no place in the wardrobe of a spiritually healthy sister. Extremes of fashion in the opposite direction will also be avoided. The divine standard is expressed in the words "modest apparel, with shamefacedness" (Greek: modesty, decency, reverence) "and sobriety." (I Tim. 2:9.) This cannot possibly include many modern styles of dress (and sometimes undress), which are designed, supposedly, for the comfort and convenience of the wearer, but which not infrequently overstep the bounds of propriety and respectability. The principles of the Truth must be strictly observed in the selection of attire. Let every sister of Christ ponder these matters in her heart. Let her make quite sure that her style of dress is modest and becoming, and does not detract from the high standard of dignity and grace befitting her calling as a child of God.
The matter of hairdressing will also receive her attention - -for this finds special mention in the writings of the Apostles. "If a woman have long hair it is a glory to her." There is a right and a wrong way to apply the underlying principles of this divine utterance. Extremes of style in the dressing of the hair must be avoided. Much time, effort and money can be dissipated in unwise attempts to follow the fashions and follies of worldly women. No sister must allow these insidious influences to encroach on the profitable use of her time. She will be circumspect and constant, and will ever remember that "plaiting the hair," or its counterpart in the elaborate "coiffeur" of today, is disparaged, rather than encouraged, in the Spirit Word.
A spiritual sister will not resort to the extravagant use of cosmetics. Painted lips and pencilled eyebrows are a form of attraction and self-advertisement which she can well afford to forego. Her beauty will not depend upon the artificial make-up which can be bought at a chemist's shop. The real secret of charm is not purchased with money, nor contained in external embellishments.
"Beauty of mind is beauty of face,
And inward sweetness makes outward grace."
The cheerful countenance, the noble brow, the sunny smile, the compassionate eye-who is not attracted by these powerful charms? A happy face may be a very plain face, but who, with discerning judgment of these matters, would exchange it for the soul-less artificial beauty, so- called, of the vain daughters of men? "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." (Prov. 31:30.)
Many strong temptations beset the path of a sister employed in business. For instance, it is easy to form the habit of employing the loose, vulgar, and even, perhaps unholy language of those who think it clever to indulge in forceful expletives, or slangy expressions, and whose frame of mind is expressed in the words "Our lips are our own, who is lord over us?" A woman professing godliness must "keep the door of her lips" against these irreverent and unwholesome forms of speech. Her vocabulary is drawn from the choice language of inspiration. Her speech is "always with grace." (Col. 4:6.) It is "comely" (Song 4:3); "pleasant" (Prov. 15:26). Her words are words of "truth and soberness." (Acts 26:25.) Her "lips disperse knowledge." (Prov. 15:7.) She is careful to apply the Lord's command, "Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matt. 5:37.)
Modern degenerate tendencies are well illustrated in the growing habit among women of smoking. In former years this practice was denounced by public opinion as unseemly and degrading. Popular taste has undergone a great change in this direction, and a woman who smokes nowadays is tolerated and encouraged in worldly society. Her departure from the standard of feminism maintained by an earlier generation, is regarded as an evidence of broad- mindedness and advanced education. So general has this practice become that a non-smoker is the exception rather than the rule. No change, however, has taken place in the attitude of faithful brethren towards this objectionable habit. Smoking has been deprecated among them as unclean and worldly since the pioneer days of Bro. Roberts. Is it any less so among sisters? "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." (I Cor, 6:15.) True sisters will set their faces like a flint against the acceptance of the proffered cigarette, and tactfully discourage the cordiality it is intended to promote.
An extremely grave temptation to which a sister in business is frequently exposed concerns the attitude towards her of members of the opposite sex. A young and pleasant sister will almost certainly find that before long she is the object of the attentions of one or more of the men folk with whom she must necessarily mingle during the day. Friendly relations may be attempted which appear harmless and innocent enough. These probably take the form of an invitation to lunch, or a stroll after business. Friendship-seekers such as these may even profess to take an interest in religion, especially if a sister's devout mode of life has been the subject of particular notice. The warning note of Scripture is explicit on this point. "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away." (Prov. 4:14.) Consistent efforts to maintain this divine standard of purity of life will imbue the mind with wisdom and discernment. In the keeping of these holy precepts lies each sister's highest good.
If, as a result of a sister's sincere demeanour, a genuine interest is shown in her religious beliefs by a male member of the staff, she can always introduce the enquirer to a brother of standing, who would be pleased to instruct him in the "way of life more perfectly."
In whatever capacity a sister of Christ is daily engaged, she will not allow the demands of business to absorb too much of her time or talent. There is need for balanced judgment in this connection, Called to "be a good steward of the manifold grace of God," a wise sister will reserve some part of the day for reading, meditation and prayer, for this is vital to the development of spiritual health and vigour. Opportunities of service can be "bought up." Good stewardship comprises a lifelong accumulation of little acts, humbly and willingly performed-a letter of comfort and cheer written during the lunch hour-a young or lonely sister befriended on or from her way to work-the sick visited, or a visiting sister given a welcome at the station. Quite often, in her leisure time, the sister who types can do much useful work. Exhortations, addresses, letters, extracts from the writings of the brethren; these can be duplicated and circulated among sisters in isolation. And how strengthened are these lonely watchers as a result of such industry and effort!
The wise planning of the weekly earnings must also be considered, so that some part, however small, can be devoted to the Truth's interests. The greater the sacrifice entailed in thus providing a reserve, the more precious the gift in the sight of Christ.
All these little duties and services, faithfully discharged, provide limitless opportunities for combining daily business affairs with the immeasurably higher Business of the Father. They constitute in the aggregate the answer to the question, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" "If ye love me, keep my commandments." They are comprehensive in their survey, and rigid in their application. They cover every situation in which sisters in business may find themselves, and provide a rule of action which will guide them through trials and temptations to lives of usefulness and happiness. Strong in courage and in faith, they will carry out their daily tasks with earnestness and zeal, "in singleness of heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart- knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." (Eph. 6:5-8.)