Have you ever noticed how much women value experience? This can lead to wrong ideas such as:
“You don’t understand me because you haven’t experienced my pain.”
“I don’t want your help because your life is easy compared to mine.”
“Walk in my shoes, and then you’ll understand.”
“Don’t talk to me about my children! What do you know?”
These ideas flow from the idea that experience is the most valuable asset we can have as women. Experience can be very beneficial but it isn’t the standard by which we are to live.
What happens to our theology when experience rules?
- We become man-centered rather than God-centered. Life becomes about what I experience rather than the truth of God’s Word. God becomes a tool in our hands rather than the creator of the universe. We see him as our servant rather than one to be served. Our prayers become extremely self-centered so that we ask and ask of God what we desire. Then when we don’t receive those things, God is not for us but against us in some way. To allow experience to rule our lives is to create an idol of worship. “Those who make them (idols) become like them, so do all who trust in them.” Psalm 135:18
- We force the Word of God to say what our experience is saying. In other words, we don’t use the context in which the Word was written, but instead use our context of experience. This is done quite often in Bible studies for women, which is really sad. The reason it keeps being done is because women gobble up the experience driven study. It feels good to know that God was really talking about them when he had Moses write Exodus. How sad for us that we don’t have enough discernment to see this as wrongly dividing the Word of truth. To allow experience to be the context of God’s Word is to erase the real story of the Word which is Jesus Christ. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.(Jesus)” Luke 24:27
- We miss valuable input from our brothers and sisters in Christ when we dismiss them because of their lack of experience. Every believer should be seeking knowledge of the Lord. It’s the knowledge of the Lord that helps us live this life well. Just because someone hasn’t experienced our circumstances doesn’t mean they can’t point us to the one who can give hope and comfort. To allow experience to be our standard in relationships is to miss how the Lord can use someone in our lives to point us to him. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Is there value in experience?
Yes, there is value in our experiences. The value is not that we experienced something in our lives, but that we’ve experienced God’s work in our lives. We place more value on the actual experience then we do on what God has done in that experience. Paul talks about his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11-12. He lays out for the Corinthian Church all he has gone through for the sake of the gospel. Even when he does that he says, “I am speaking as a fool”. (Verse 21) In the end, it’s not his experiences that are the most important. After all he has gone through for the gospel, he still has a weakness which he cries out for God to take away. He experiences this daily. It’s hard for him, but he doesn’t look for someone else who’s experiencing it for help; he looks to God. Paul gives us God’s answer; it’s about him and not about experience.
“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a
Our experience isn’t the answer; the grace of God is the answer. The truth of his Word is the answer. God’s character is the answer. We will go much farther if we begin to trust in the right thing. We all go through experiences differently, but God never changes.
Let’s change our idea of experience from being man-centered to being God-centered. How? Experience God at work in your experience rather than putting value on the experience itself!