Mary expected great reward too, but in her case it circled back to what God promised her. We admire the courageous obedience she displayed, especially when we know the major payoff was still many hard years away. But Mary’s faith held firm to God’s Word. Amazingly, she exulted in God’s goodness to her before any of the really good results came to pass. In Luke 1: 48 – 49 she said, “For he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name” (NIV).

Mary was celebrating God’s goodness at a time when all she could reasonably see was the scandal that would soon visit her. She was about to be a social outcast and a cause for gossip. Yet with the eyes of faith, she trusted God and believed her life would be blessed with His best in spite of the hardship. Nine months later, that’s exactly what she got.

By contrasting these two women’s responses to God, to temptation, and to what each considered the better life, we find a biblical definition of authentic womanhood that offers direction to any woman’s life:

A biblical woman embraces God’s callings, chooses wisely, lives courageously, and expects God’s greater reward.

Next week read Part II on biblical marriage.

Excerpted from The Life Ready Woman (Broadman & Holman). Copyright (c) 2011 by Veritas Enterprises & Robert M. Lewis. All rights reserved.

Shaunti Feldhahn is a former Wall Street analyst, best-selling author (For Women Only), national speaker, and regular commentator in the media. She and her husband live with their two children in Atlanta, Georgia.

Robert Lewis is the visionary leader behind the Life Ready series of video studies. He is a pastor, best-selling author (Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage), and the founder of the popular Men's Fraternity Bible study movement. He and his wife have four grown children and live in Little Rock, Arkansas.