The Virgin Mary is our model par excellence, but there's much to learn from other examples as well.
Despite the overwhelming male chauvinism present in the cultures described in the Bible, we find therein great women who have a lot to teach us.
As a tribute to women, here are seven attitudes of biblical women that every Christian should imitate.
1. The humility of Mary, mother of Jesus
Mary was chosen among all women to be the mother of the Savior. Perhaps that could have filled her heart with some degree of pride, even a touch of haughtiness. However, she remained humble, and said something that we all should say to God each day: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, because he has looked with favor on his lowly servant; from this day forth, all generations shall call me blessed…” (Luke 1: 46-48). Mary’s humility, when she put herself in God’s hands and cooperated with the Lord in his great mission, is really amazing, and is something every believer should imitate.
2. Hannah’s perseverance in prayer
Hannah had not had an easy life. Her husband Elkanah had taken advantage of the tradition of having two wives (1 Samuel 1:2). In addition, Hannah was sterile, which was considered a curse in those days. Her husband’s other wife looked down on her, and she carried great sadness in her heart because of all of this (1 Samuel 1:6). But she never abandoned her dream of having a child, and she didn’t surrender herself to discontented grumbling; on the contrary, she persevered in prayer and was heard: “She conceived and, at the end of her pregnancy, bore a son whom she named Samuel. ‘Because I asked the LORD for him.'” (1 Samuel 1:20)
3. The courage of Mary Magdalene to overcome the past
The Bible says that Mary was possessed; Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). We don’t have many details about this woman’s past, but certainly, it wasn’t one that would be pleasing to God. Nevertheless, she had the courage to overcome her dark past and to become a great servant of Jesus. She is always mentioned in the company of the disciples, and she was the first person to know about, and believe in, Jesus’ resurrection (Matthew 28:1). She was a woman who showed unequaled personal progress—a real image of the transformation that God works in people’s lives.
4. The wisdom of Miriam to overcome crises
The Pharaoh had decided that all the Egyptians should kill any boys born to Jewish women (Exodus 1:22). This order put the new-born Moses’ life at risk, but Moses’ mother and his sister Miriam had a strategy that saved his life. It wasn’t easy. They placed the infant Moses in a basket in the river. Miriam, with great wisdom, followed the child until he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, and then convinced her to entrust the baby to his own mother, so she could nurse him until he grew (Exodus 2:7). Miriam saved Moses’ life with her wise way of dealing with adversity.
5. The prostitute Rahab’s fear of God
Rahab is described in the Bible as a prostitute. It doesn’t hide what she was—but it also doesn’t hide the change that was taking place in her heart. In the conversation she had with the spies of Israel, whom she hid in her house in order to protect them, she showed a great fear of God: “We heard, and our hearts melted within us; everyone is utterly dispirited because of you, since the LORD, your God, is God in heaven above and on earth below.” (Joshua 2:11) This is a great expression of fear of the Lord. Considering that Rahab lived in the midst of a pagan nation, it is surprising how great her fear of the true God was. Her attitude toward God was so remarkable that she ended up forming part of the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).
6. The Samaritan woman’s missionary zeal
The Samaritan woman, as we all know, had an important encounter with Jesus near a well where she had gone to draw water (John 4:9). Jesus revealed to her the mistakes that she had made in the past and present, and said powerful words to her that reached her heart. The result? Missionary zeal filled this woman’s heart, and she took Jesus’ words to her people, who didn’t know him yet: “The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?’ They went out of the town and came to him.”
7. The personal character of the nameless virtuous woman in the book of Proverbs
The last verses of the Book of Proverbs are dedicated to praising the character of a woman who is not named, but who could well be any of the great women of God who have existed throughout history and who exist in our own day. That woman shows her virtues in the way she cares for her family, in the honest and dedicated way she works, in the example she gives to her neighbors, in the wise way she lives her life, etc. The text offers us a summary of the qualities of a woman of God, and reminds us how important they are.
[Adapted and translated from Aleteia’s Spanish edition]