Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thoughts on Proverbs 31

Caution: long post ahead...

I wrote this a few years ago before I was married and just wanted to compile some thoughts on each phrase of the Proverbs 31 woman. I strive to be this woman and want these words to explain my life. I used The Message Bible as I love the fresh perspective of reading these familiar words in a different light!

Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Message)

* "A good woman is hard to find and worth far more than diamonds."
She is not the one pursuing a husband – she is waiting with patience, respect, and complete confidence in God. This inner confidence and peace in God, which is cultivated through intimate time with Him, allows His light and love to sparkle and shine through her to others. It is her privilege and responsibility to let herself be found by a godly man and to allow herself to be a blessing to her husband by being who God created her to be and being used of God!

* “Her husband trusts her without reserve and never has reason to regret it.”
She has proven that she is trustworthy and is willing to make daily and disciplined decisions that honor, cherish, and protect this trust. She thinks before she speaks and knows when not to say something that would betray the trust of her beloved. She also watches the appearance of things and is ready to make a decision, which would prevent the slightest question of her heart or motives from her husband. Her husband is blessed and encouraged by her willingness and ability to be trusted and it brings respect and praise to him as well, as those around her observe how she loves him in this way.

* “Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.”
She does not manipulate her husband with her motives or femininity. But, she learns to see him as God sees him which creates a heart of generous love always wanting what is best for him and what would make him more like their precious Father! She doesn’t grow out of this stage with time, but instead becomes more practiced and seasoned in how to display and lavish this generosity on her husband. She considers how she would treat Jesus and is willing to let that be her guide in what it means to serve and honor her husband.

* “She shops around for the best yarns and cottons and enjoys knitting and sewing.”
She is grateful for how her husband provides and is frugal with those provisions. She doesn’t make rash or impractical purchases but carefully weighs her options. She also realizes that it brings honor to her husband to see that he is a good and generous provider and for her to take pride in her appearance in that of their family brings respect to her husband. She doesn’t settle for the cheapest thing available either and is careful to consider the quality and the better purchase over time. Her hands are creative and add to the value of her purchases by the way she adds touches and even cares for these things.

* “She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.”
She is creative! She can make something small into a wonderful surprise or celebration! She thinks of unique ways to encourage others with her gifts that are from the heart. She knows that a small thing can go a long way when the heart of the giver is filled with joy and love. She looks for ways to make little things meaningful to her family and brings laughter and joy to her home with her creativity. She is resourceful with what she has available and cultivates a joy of finding pleasure in the simple things.

* “She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.”
She is not lazy, but knows and appreciates hard work! She is willing to spend the energy needed to bring peace and comfort to her family. She thinks ahead and is prepared for what the day holds. Even though she may not be able to complete everything she wants to in a given day, her thoughts of preparation will prevent lots of disorganization or wasted time! When her house is quiet, she cultivates her soul as well and this preparation with the Father permeates and fills her day!

* “She looks over a field and buys it, then with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.”
She makes wise choices with money. She is good at saving and makes well-thought-out purchases. When she does make a large purchase she considers something that will benefit her family – she thinks about the goals of the marriage and family and considers if this purchase will add to or subtract from those goals and desires. Her purchase here is also a good investment and she is careful to make informed and wise choices. This brings glory to her husband as well and respect.

* “First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.” She doesn’t waste time by being lazy or refusing to get out of bed. She enjoys her work at home and is eager to get up and serve her husband and children. Not that every day is perfect – but she has her heart in the right place and relies on God to provide energy and joy. She is not afraid of hard work and knows how to use her time wisely. When she is organized about her day, it can bring tremendous peace into the household when her husband returns home from a long day at work. It is her responsibility to complete as much as she can before he gets home so he can enjoy her and she can enjoy him. This also contributes to his rest and even desire to come home after a tiring day at work.

* “She senses the worth of her work; is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.”
She realizes her work is her ministry to her husband and children. But, she knows when she has crossed the line to being obsessive about her tasks. She does not feel inferior for the job she has, but relies on God for finding value, meaning, and purpose in her calling. She does not watch the clock wishing for the day to be over but is thankful instead for the rare and beautiful gift of this day. She learns what it means to be faithful in the work God has given her and she trusts Him to multiply the eternal fruit! Her laziness would only create a discontent attitude in her and resentment from her hard-working husband.

* ”She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.”
She relies on God to provide the skills she needs, and she is willing to learn and cultivate those that she needs to. Their home is a place of refuge, peace, and the Lord’s presence and she works diligently to make this a priority. She understands the importance of home and works at cultivating a safe place. She honors her husband by providing a place of refuge and comfort for him. She considers what is restful to him and realizes it brings him respect when others are invited in to enjoy the beauty and atmosphere of this place. Their home allows others to experience Christ – through His presence and their hearts.

* “She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.”
Out of the abundance of her heart and home, she does not hesitate when opportunity to help presents itself. She is prepared to help others, and those around her know she is dependable and available to be called upon. She considers how she would treat Jesus and how she would want her family to be treated and responds with His grace and care. This teaches her children to think of others and to be generous in helping them. God is honored and so is her husband!

* “She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows – their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.”
She is prepared and does not put things off to the last minute or until it is too late. She takes good care of what they have and makes it last as long as possible. This reminds me, too, of the condition of her heart – it is ready and waiting to meet her Savior, not putting off her walk with Him. She encourages this in her children and models this preparation. She also models keeping short accounts with one another.

* “She makes her own clothing and dresses in colorful linens and silks.”
She considers her appearance and realizes part of her ministry to her husband is to keep herself attractive and well dressed for him! She doesn’t need expensive clothes to accomplish this and her creativity is obvious here! She cares for herself in a way that blesses and encourages her husband. It is her responsibility to realize that if she doesn’t meet her husband’s needs physically – he will begin to look elsewhere to have them met, when she was the one God chose to minister to him in this way.

* “Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.”
He is known in the community and is respected for the way he lives in contrast to the world His opinion and understanding are sought out and respected. What his wife says about him and how she treats him contribute greatly to what others think of him. She should do all she can to build up and promote him both to him and to others to bring him honor and respect.

* “She designs gowns and sells them and brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.”
She utilizes the gifts and talents God has given her and these benefit others as well as her own family. She is creative and her ideas contribute to the family whether financially or otherwise. She is careful and conscious to use the gifts God has entrusted to her for this will bring Him glory and bring blessing on her husband and children.

* “Her clothes are well made and elegant and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.”
She is not in a hurry to do poor work, but is willing to invest the time to produce something quality. She has a good work ethic and delights in investing herself to things that last and are worthwhile. She is positive and trusting regarding the future and instead of worrying about tomorrow – she smiles at how God will carry through.

* “When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say and she always says it kindly.”
She thinks before she speaks and invites the Holy Spirit to stop her when needed. She realizes that words can hurt or words can heal and she makes a choice to bring healing. She models the Relational Covenant, which reminds to talk to and not about, believe the best in one another, and stand shoulder to shoulder. She is willing to share what she has learned and honors her God and her husband with the words on her tongue. She speaks with kindness in her heart and knows it is better to remain silent than say something in haste or frustration.

* “She keeps an eye on everyone in her household and keeps them all busy and productive.”
She is sensitive and aware to struggles and triumphs in the lives of those in her home. She takes time to know each one and what is on their hearts and minds. She is willing to learn the strengths, gifts, talents and interests of each one and to nurture and encourage the growth and development of those. She models and teaches her children a good work ethic and how to be creative and productive with their time. But, she also knows when to encourage rest!

* “Her children respect and bless her, her husband joins in with words of praise…”
She has earned and worked diligently at earning the respect of her husband and children. She receives their praise – not with pride, but with an open hand that after hearing and receiving - offers it to God for His gifts of faithfulness and understanding which have made her into the woman she is.

* “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Again – she receives these words and is strengthened by their encouragement. But, she offers them to God as a sacrifice of praise for what a testimony this is to His grace and faithfulness in her life and subsequently in the lives of those she loves the most!

* “Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades, the woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear of God!”
She realizes that her worth does not come from outward beauty or charm, but instead from a heart delighting in and focused on her precious Lord and Savior! The time she spends cultivating her walk with God and passing it on to her husband and children will be multiplied in the eternal joy of life forever in His Presence. Since she fears the Lord and reveres Him, she also has a proper perspective of submitting joyfully and respectfully to her husband and she rejoices in his leadership and looks for ways to support him in this role.

* “Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises.”
A woman who brings this kind of love and peace to her husband and family will be blessed. Because, she lived the way God wanted her to, because He used her to be a blessing, and because this would bring Him eternal glory and praise!


Anonymous said...

This is really good, Monica!Thanks for posting this and for giving me some food for thought!:-)

Amy said...

I hadn't read this passage by breaking it up verse for verse until I made a paper chain for my best friend's wedding. I had put a verse on being a wife for every day of the countdown (It was a lot of fun and I wish I had kept the verses I used!)
Anyway- I think it's great to use to give yourself a spiritual (or practical???) check every once and a while and I wish there would be more focus when we are younger and unmarried- as a study on what should be attained and then we could be closer to being that person when we do get married.

What a great thing to model for your girls and help them grow up to be.

Anonymous said...

Monica, I printed this off last night and have been plodding through it section by section. I love when a devotional requires me to "dig deep"! I've made some resolutions and have been contemplating making changes based on what God would have me to do (instead of based on my check list of things to do in 2007). I want to make life changes...changes that stick and changes that reflect the Lord's work in my life. Thank you so much for giving me a solid foundation of scripture to build on.