Women love our bling. We’ve been known to forget our morals when presented with something sparkly. On one occasion an older, gentleman walked into a jewelry store one Friday evening with a beautiful young gal at his side. He told the jeweler he was looking for a special engagement ring for his girlfriend. The jeweler looked through his stock and brought out a $5,000 ring and showed it to him. The old man said, “I don’t think you understand, I want something very special.” At that statement, the jeweler went to his special stock and brought another ring over. “Here’s a stunning ring at only $40,000,” the jeweler said. The young lady’s eyes sparkled and her whole body trembled with excitement. The old man seeing this said, “We’ll take it.” The jeweler asked how payment would be made and the old man stated, by check. ” I know you need to make sure my check is good, so I’ll write it now and you can call the bank Monday to verify the funds and I’ll pick the ring up Monday afternoon,” he said. Monday morning, a very teed-off jeweler phoned the old man. “There’s no money in that account.” “I know”, said the old man, “but can you imagine the weekend I had?” Given our affinity for baubles, Paul’s letter to his student Timothy tends to make women squirm. I’ve never heard a sermon preached on 1 Timothy 2:9: I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. My husband must have read this 1 Timothy recently. I him for diamonds for our upcoming anniversary. He presented me with a beautiful box…of playing cards. One wonders why Paul doesn’t have any problem with men wearing jewelry. After all, men are sporting more and more rocks. Being the most conservative guy at work, when a gentleman walked in the office sporting his new diamond studded hoop earring, he made quite a scene. A colleague approached him to try and question him about his unexpected fashion statement. “Don’t make such a big deal out of it!”, he said, “It’s just a diamond earring!”. The colleague continued: “I’m just curious to know what made you decide to pierce your ear?”. The man replied: “The fact that my wife accidently found the earring in our bed.” Men who wear ear-rings are reckoned to make good husbands because – 1. They have experienced pain. 2. They have bought jewellery Clearly, women value jewelry very highly. Historically it makes sense. Jewelry is our mobile wealth. For much of human history women were unable to hold property or run businesses. But if we need something to fall back on in a time of crisis, we have often lived on our jewels. I read a news story about the ex-wife of the Sultan of Brunei suing a bodyguard for attempting to steal her jewelry. A twelve million dollar gift from a man, after all, could represent your retirement fund. We’ve seen that gold holds its value better than many other investments, so perhaps the Sultan’s wife is a smart woman. At the same time, Paul, or perhaps one of his students penning the letter in his name, has become concerned about the priorities and values of the women of the church. Gordon Fee and Steve Robbins have commented on the context of this letter. It was written to the church in Ephesus, which was well known as the worship center for Artemis and particularly for the Artemesian temple prostitutes. In the first century, some Roman women had acquired power and status, and desired the sexual freedom granted to their male counterparts. Robbins writes, “In the first century a woman’s outer dress signaled either chastity and fidelity or promiscuous availability. Elaborate hairstyles, jewelry, and extravagant clothing were the uniform of the “new Roman woman” conveying her sexual availability, freedom of expression, and insubordination.59 Pearls were highly treasured and gold was the preferred metal of elegance, as well as the dress code of highly paid prostitutes.60 Elaborate hairstyles communicated a woman’s status and sexual attractiveness. During the late first century, the Flavian style of Julia, daughter of Titus fashioned the court with curls arranged on crescent-shaped wire frames. The back hair was divided into sections, braided, then curled. The parallels to our own time, regrettably, seem to draw themselves. Women who are overly adorned by their flashiness communicate their values. Someone once said, “Goodness, what a beautiful diamond ring you’re wearing Miss West!” “Goodness had nothing to do with it!” replied Mae. The question becomes, do you need to wear so much jewelry, if you believe that you are yourself a jewel? That you are a precious pearl in God’s sight? There’s another problem with our bling obsession, ladies. It leads us to fall prey to all the worst kinds of envy and greed. We all notice other women’s gems, but we fail sometimes to realize that diamonds can’t buy us happiness. One woman exclaimed, “What an incredibly large diamond ring you’ve got. Is it a very famous diamond?” “Oh yes, darling, it’s the famous Bloomenstein diamond, but it’s got a curse with it”. “Really, what’s the curse?” “Mr. Bloomenstein, of course!” We sometimes get so obsessed with jewelry, wrongly believing that jewels equal love, that it even hurts our marriages. A woman enters a jewelry store and says, “You sold my husband a diamond ring yesterday but it’s the wrong size.” “No problem madam. We can adjust the finger size easily.” “Oh, you don’t understand, you sold him a five carat, and I take a ten carat size.” Most disturbingly, amid the sparkle we lose sight of the true light. That is, we fall so in lust with jewelry sometimes that we place getting that ring or necklace or bracelet above our concern with the people who God loves. I once heard a good sermon by Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, in which he criticized the evangelical church for ignoring the Bible’s message on social justice. He wrote, that woman in the audience is raising her hand in the air because she’s saved, but does she think about the person whose village was destroyed over that diamond she’s got on her hand? He wrote, I want her to want to see an end to poverty more than she wants that diamond. When we bedeck ourselves with expensive clothes and fine jewels in order to impress others, we are detracting from God and God’s purpose for our world. At the same time, when we read 1 Timothy in its context, a case can be made that Paul is not forbidding jewelry, but rather helping women to see that the more they allow Christ into their hearts, the less important the things of this world will become. Such that you would rather build a well in Africa than have that two carat eternity ring, which, though lovely, doesn’t compare to the smile on that little girl’s face. Such that you treasure the bracelets you made that day with the lovely young ladies from Detroit who you are helping to mentor, and they are more beautiful to you than any diamond cuff. Such that you don’t want a new engagement ring from Tiffany’s, you want to wear that dated little diamond your grandmother wore through fifty happy years of marriage. I hope I never forget the day my family went through my grandmother Diana’s jewelry. It was a bit sad as you can imagine, missing her, and remembering her lovely in her jewelry. But something amazing happened too. My mother had taken out a few things special to her, and my brothers and I sat with the rest, each one deferring to the other. Mitch said, “mar, baby Diana should have everything with Grandma’s monogram.” Pete said, “Chuck you should take this, you seem to like it and maybe you could give it to a girlfriend, if you ever get one.” And all of them encouraged one another to take that engagement ring, finally deciding that the only fair thing to do was that the first to propose would use Grandma’s ring. And that is what they all plan to do. Watching them, I felt my grandma close, and I whispered, Grandma, this is what you really left as your legacy. Better than jewels, you left Love. Kindness. Goodness more precious than gold. When you come to know the heart of God, more and more, you find that God does clothe you in good works. The watch that I wear was a gift from my mom to Grandma, and it is engraved with, the time we spend together is precious. My necklace was beaded by my aunt for my ordination and represents her loving support. My earrings were bought from a fair trade company because God has given me a heart for people of the world. And my wedding ring is the one my husband put on my finger as he made the most beautiful, the most impossible, the most selfless vow one human being can make to another: to love me and to be faithful to me in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health. And that love is more precious to me than a hundred diamonds. Although, if he wanted to give me a hundred diamonds, I wouldn’t refuse. Unless they were more playing cards. May you see the abundant beauty God has given you, the good works that adorn you, and the gem that God created you to be. As you grow in wisdom and goodness, may you be adorned with good deeds, clothed with Christ, sparkling with the light of the Holy Spirit.