Lessons from Proverbs 31
What is the manifestation of our convictions? What shows our faith to the world? Is it our prayer-life? Our reading of the Word? Our fasting? No. The evidence of our faith is manifest solely in the fruit that it bears in our daily lives.
Praying, reading and fasting are all ways that we use to access the Spirit of God but are not goals in themselves. Reading the Bible is like filling our tanks with gasoline, the goal is to drive. The goal of reading the Word is to serve God and to live in His Spirit.
When we receive God's Spirit we bring forth the fruits that testify of it. We don't recognize a true Christian by the fact that he prays or fasts often. These things should be hidden. Jesus said, "And when thou prayest thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:5-6) We see that these things ought to be hidden. The Pharisees showed these acts but it was because these external acts were the whole content of their religion.
I Timothy 2:11-15 says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety". The context of this passage concerns the function of the woman in the church. She is instructed to not hold a position of authority or teacher in the church, thus usurping the authority of the man but rather that she can work out her own salvation by bearing children. But he goes on to say that childbearing in itself is not a sufficient means for salvation but that she must also continue in faith and charity, holiness and sobriety.
Mark 5: 30 reads, "And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?" It is evident that this virtue, issuing from the Saviour, represents the Spirit of God. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 must therefore be the portrayal of a woman who is endowed with God's spirit. Proverbs 31 is the fleshing out of this Spirit; the evidence of a life lived for God in the Christian woman.
In Christ there is no distinction between men and women. The Bible, however, instructs us that there are different functions for each member of the body; different functions but same spirit.
There are few exhortations to women in the Bible, and many samples of virtuous women as well as non-virtuous ones. Although the world has cast away the notion of the woman's role, there is nothing for a Christian that annuls the sample of the woman in Proverbs 31 as being the sample for a Christian woman to follow. We are called to be in direct contrast with women of the world in order to win the world "by the conversation (behavior) of the wives."
Jesus said, "Deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me". He said, "No greater love hath any man than this than a man lay down his life for the brethren." All exhortations to Christians are put into practice daily in the raising of a family. Can you think of any position in life that calls on these Christian virtues and puts into practice more fully the teachings of Christ than that of bearing and raising a family for God? God created our bodies to bear children and endowed us with a particular sensitivity and intuition to use to his purpose.
Only in the last century has society abandoned this notion. Are we are in the era described by Christ when he said, "Women of Jerusalem, weep not for me but weep for thyselves, for the time cometh when they shall say, Blessed is the womb that never bear and the paps that never gave suck"? Was Jesus foretelling the end of social notions concerning motherhood? There is a trend today against childbirth and most of a woman's fertile years are spent under the influence of "protecting" herself against having children. As the world and its own go off course, we must remain on course even in the face of seduction, temptation, persecution and belittlement.
Let's analyze this sample which the Word of God provides for us:
PROVERBS 31: A WOMAN WHO LIVES IN THE SPIRIT
The words of King Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows? Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
The prophecy of a mother to her son. Here is an example of a virtuous woman fulfilling her motherly role. Addressing her son, the king, she teaches him to to do good for the sake of His people. Every woman teaches her children to get on in the world but a virtuous woman teaches them to do good for the sake of others. That's the difference between an average woman and a virtuous one: she instills virtue in her children.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
We see that the God-ordained role of the wife and mother is highly esteemed in the Bible and not a subject of ridicule as it is in the world today. Yes, we are in submission to men, but to Godly men who in turn are ordered to provide for us and to love us as their own flesh and as Christ loved the Church. How many women today, after having had their fling with feminism and having stepped down from their pedestals toward "equality" with men, would like to return to the prized position of being the center of a man's life and that of her children, and to be provided for by him all the days of her life?!
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
He can trust her entirely. That should go without saying but if he makes mistakes she doesn't turn against him, and she doesn't feel betrayed when she realizes that behind his apparent strength he may also have some weaknesses and need help in overcoming them. An old expression goes,"Behind every great man is a great woman." Our first job is to be a help to our husbands. A woman who leaves her husband on the basis of his personal defects doesn't understand her role of a wife.
She seeketh wool and flax and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is diligent. She works creatively and productively in her home and enriches the life of her family.
She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
In her devotion to her husband and children she seeks and goes after quality in their lives.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
She's an early-riser. She has helpers in the house to whom she ministers in turn. Although she's in a manager's position she humbles herself in following Christ's sample and becoming servant of all. She makes her life a life of service to others thus leading the way for those who work under her roof.
It's appropriate that she have helpers in her home as she was never intended to be a superwoman and attend to all the physical as well as emotional and spiritual needs of her family. Selfish worldly people will criticize a mother who's overloaded rather than helping her. We must recognize that a woman who brings children into the world is laying down her life for a cause and that she needs our support, emotional as well as physical. She needs our enthusiasm, our joy in and love for her children as well as our physical help! All these things help her to go through the difficult side of maternity and brings forth joyful fruit in her life and the lives of her children, as well as providing a special blessing for the people who help her.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She's industrious. She sets her hand to a project and sees it through to fulfillment.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She has an inner strength emanating from a hidden Source in her heart. Drawing on this strength she works hard.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
Her job is a vocation as opposed to a simple profession. She is on duty 24 hours a day. "Her candle goeth not out by night", reminds me of the story of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who worked in the Crimean War. She managed a team of nurses in a hospital that received the wounded. She became known as the "Lady with the Lamp" because she roamed the wards at night with a lamp in her hand checking on the patients. She even went out to the battlefield personally in order to bring first-aid to the victims and to bring them back to hospital. She sat next to dying men writing letters to their families on their behalf. She went above and beyond the call of duty and put all her heart into her work. She touched the hearts of so many people that on her return to England she was decorated by Queen Victoria. With the money she received through her fame she established nursing schools in parts of Great Britain in order to teach young women the job of nursing. It's her example that defined the nursing profession around the world. As Christian women we are called to work with the same love and devotion in our homes and in our communities.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She runs her house well and she's a master in her field. In order to specialize she had to apply herself to learning the many aspects of this field: cooking, sewing, gardening, cleaning, managing, childcare, health, schooling etc... Running a home and raising a family provides scope for the use of all of her talents and requires a large measure of intelligence to result in success. Happy is the child whose mother invests all her intelligence in his well-being. Society, in its rising years, was once composed of such individuals, those who were the "chef-d'oeuvre" of their mother's life. Now in a society obviously in decline, too large a portion of our youth are unstable, unhappy and tending towards delinquency in their admiration of lewd role-models, mainly because their mothers have abandoned the home to seek their own fulfillment in the work place. We must return to the place where we can really be of use and can find true fulfillment.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
As well as ministering to the needs of her family she answers the need of her immediate community. She loves the people she sees thus confirming her love for God whom she hast not seen. (1 John 4:20)
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She foresees the needs of her family. In order to do this her family must be continually the object of her thoughts.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
She makes efforts to be beautiful. People who think that feminine beauty falls into the realm of the devil are mistaken. God created feminine beauty and put it into the hearts of women to want to be beautiful in order to fullfill a part of her role of enriching the lives of her family. It's really sad to see a mother dressed in tight jeans, tattooed and laughing with a loud voice. This woman doesn't know the meaning of the word, "Mother". A Christian woman ought to try to live up to this name knowing that there is only ever one "Mommy". Feminism isn't femininity. True femininity is being loving, giving, present and devoted to those that God has entrusted us with; bearing fruit in childbirth and fulfilling the role that God created us for. That is true femininity.
In making her clothes she is a good steward of the money her husband gives her to manage for the household.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
This doesn't mean that Christian women should marry rich men but rather that by her virtue she promotes her husband to honor and recognition.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
She is skillful, diligent and productive. We notice the approbation of the seamstress Dorcas, when the mourning widows came to show her work to Peter in Acts 4:36-42. Today few girls are taught in the arts of the home; sewing, knitting, cooking, managing a household, caring for children so few women can attest the inward pleasure and satisfaction of making their children's clothes and blessing their families with the work of her hands. As the woman in Proverbs 31 is a model given for us in the Bible our girls ought to be trained in the skills of running a home. Only then can she experience the God-given pleasure that comes with a job well done.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
Here we see one of many illustrations in the Bible of clothes representing personal qualities. This woman's presence is the portrayal strength and honor.
Unlike the woman who lives in pleasure, who "is dead while she liveth" this woman is like the "corn of wheat" that falls to the ground bringing forth much fruit. Her life isn't spent, it's invested, and the returns on her investment will be great to the degree of investment made. Indeed, this woman shall "rejoice in time to come."
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." A spirit-led person gathers wisdom over the years. Coupled with wisdom, her words, whether they be commending, advising, teaching or rebuking are always spoken in kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
The "ways of her household" means the conduct of her family and helpers. She perceives their qualities as well as short-comings and tends to their characters much like a gardener carefully tends to the growth of his trees; pruning, nurturing, protecting them from the elements, directing their growth.
She never wastes her time in idleness, vanity and self-indulgence.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously but thou excellest them all.
By seeking to please the Lord she earns her family's respect and praise.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
Favor and beauty bring temporary and short lived pleasure. Fearing the Lord in day to day living brings long-term and permanent blessings in this life and in the life to come.
Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Nothing but the fruit of her hands is a big reward. It's not her intellectual beliefs that will be rewarded but the works that consumate them, the fruit of her hands.
"In the gates" means the city council. Here again, she sought to serve God and in turned gained social recognition and honour, unlike career-women who seek their own recognition.
By the contents of the chapter as a whole we see that her works consist of everything she does in her devotion to her husband, her children and her immediate community. These works are the evidence of her religion. We don't hear about her Bible reading and devotional time any more than we hear about her washing her face in the morning.
How many people, if they entered into her house, and in the absence of any outward sign of religious practice, would recognize the Biblical qualities of this woman? May the Lord help us to perceive the true fruit of Christianity in the lives of those around us and not to be blinded by the outward show of pharisaical religion.
Consider the verse: "...for of such things do the heathen seek, but seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." This woman, in her search to fulfill her God-given role and to seek His righteousness, procured true beauty, favor and wealth, all those things that the heathen women seek, without seeking for herself, but it was the blessing of God for being truly feminine.
In today's social context we must dare to be women. Let's allow the outside world to belittle us and let's follow God quietly and in humility. Let's humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift us up and He that seeth in secret shall reward us openly. Let's be women!
[ Back ]
Placed online by the Neve family. We'd like to hear your comments : click here