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God responded by reprimanding her in two ways (see vv. 5-10). First, He reminded her that His relationship with Moses was to be respected. Second, He allowed the envy and strife that was on the inside of her to be manifested in her physical body.

He struck her with leprosy for seven da ys. During this time, Miriam had the opportunity to see how it felt to be ostracized on the basis of one's skin.

Covetousness and jealousy are nasty and unattractive. In time, what's on the inside will show on the outside.

If these sins aren't dealt with, they cause us to compete rather than embrace one another's gifts. Then we miss valuable opportunities for sharing and fellowship.

SISTERS AND FRIENDS Martha and Mary were two sisters with very different temperaments. Martha was a go-getter, always busy doing something. Mary was a live-in-the-moment type of person.

While Martha was killing herself in the kitchen, Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus (see Luke 10:38-39). When Martha brought this to Jesus' attention, He was quick to rebuke her and point out that Mary had chosen to do the better thing (see vv. 40-42).

Jesus appreciated Martha's service. But what was more important to Him was Mary's taking the time for fellowship, to sit at His feet and learn of Him.

Mary understood that her first priority was worshiping Jesus, that there would be time to serve Him later. Jesus was gently telling Martha that there were a few things she could learn from Mary.

This is a special feminine treasure--the ability of women to learn from one another. When women take the time to nourish one another and exchange their gifts, the fruit that comes from those lives is rich!

When a group of women gather to pray or to comfort a friend who is going through trial or heartbreak, the atmosphere is charged with power and healing. When women laugh together, cry together or simply hold one another, it is an inexpressible wonder.

Men enjoy watching these exchanges between women. They wonder at our ability to nurture and console one another in the same way the angels wonder at our rejoicing over salvation. They haven't got a clue.

Men do not relate like we do, and yet they wish they could. The world they live in is fraught with competition. It causes them to hide and guard themselves closely, even when they are in pain.

But women pull everything out for all to behold. We nurse and rehearse it until we've squeezed the last bit of pain out of it, and then we are liberated to move on.

The instructions are pretty clear on the design of woman-to-man relationships, but perhaps we need some clarification when it comes to woman-to-woman relationships. What can we learn from observing how we treat one another?

CELEBRATING OUR WOMANHOOD We must remember that we are the manifested heart of God. Our relationships with one another set the standard of treatment for others to follow.

If women refused to talk about one another, sabotage one another, and destroy one another with our looks, words and attitudes, we might see others treating us as they should. People reflect what they see.

Tearing down someone else does not build us up in the sight of others. It simply reveals how low we will go to gain attention.

As women begin to rise up and cover one another with love and respect, I believe a different day will dawn for us. I dare say that others' respect for us will rise to a whole new level.

God requires that we love one another (see 1 John 4:20,21). Now some will try to get literal here and say, "Well, I don't hate her. I just don't like her." But if you don't like her, there is no way you could be thinking good thoughts or praying blessings for her.

I'm talking about being free enough to celebrate another woman's triumphs and weep for her tragedies. That is the kind of sister-love God wants us to have for one another. And it is that kind of love that will help break down the stereotypes about women that have developed over the years.

RESPECT INSPIRES RECONCILIATION "They don't speak to me," my lunch partner told me in hushed tones as a group of young ladies strolled past us in the restaurant. "What do you mean?" I asked, not quite getting it.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I'm one of those Christians who actually believes we should love everybody. I was totally confused. We had just left church, and here were these women snubbing my friend.

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