Sunday, May 11, 2014

Proverbs 31 Woman, Yet Again

It's Mother's Day, 2014 and I'm wondering if any mother is ready for yet another take on the Proverbs 31 woman. As for me, I've never really taken too much of it to heart because it always seemed like an impractical goal to strive for, or not to bother striving for. But for some reason, I have recently had a sort of an epiphany regarding the virtues of the woman described there. So I thought I'd try to put into words some of the possible lessons from Proverbs 31:10-31 - and why that passage might actually be worthwhile taking to heart.

A lot of the passage is pretty obvious, like a virtuous woman is good to find. If she is of noble character, her husband can trust her with money, with the children, with the good operation of the household and even with management of her time. ~gulp~  (I believe that I'm a "virtuous woman" - more some times than others - and that I usually look to the good of our home and money. But time management has become more of a challenge as my children have grown up and needed me less. So, by that definition, am I virtuous??? hmmm!   I"m thinkin' the Lord doesn't think time management is an "impractical goal to strive for." Rather it is very much worth striving for.  But I have already digressed.) So, a husband can completely trust his wife to look to the good of him, the family and their home.

The wool and flax of verse 13 was necessary for the woman of the home at the time this was written to see to clothing her family but not so much now (although I like the prospect of obtaining wool and flax - I've been very good at obtaining it.)  :) Nowadays, we might read it something like, she is willing to be thrifty in clothing her family and is happy to work with her hands to accomplish it. And is willing to find good food and feed her family as well as she can, even rising early to prepare sustanence.

The servants are way out of most or our leagues (and from a totally different time period). But we see that the virtuous woman is kind to her servants rather than harsh, so I think we can surmise that she is compassionate.

In vs. 16 she carefully plans for her purchases, uses the money she has earned by the fruit of her hands and buys wisely. Few of us have a need for a field or have the room for a vineyard (Although, if we bought a field we would have room for a vineyard! hmmm), but we can manage our available money wisely and use it to benefit the entire household.

She works with eagerness and energy and puts her best efforts into what she does, confident that she has done her best and produced quality, either physically or otherwise). I guess she doesn't sleep.  :) Or maybe, more likely, she doesn't waste time and is willing to work into the night to complete a task.

The tasks mentioned in vs. 19 gets back to the wool and flax, which could be, again, clothing her family OR could be that she uses her skills to earn money AND/OR uses her skills and efforts to help the poor and needy. We can all certainly do more of that in one way or another.

Her family is warmly clothed, even for winter time. But, and this is something that many in my generation have likely struggled with - at least I have - having expensive clothing.  This woman makes them, even for herself.  And then she wears them! But we must keep in mind her generosity with her servants and the poor. However, it would seem from this verse that nice clothing goes with a woman who looks to her family and herself.  :) I think that people, especially women, are made to love beautiful things and that comes to light here.

Her husband is highly regarded, probably virtuous as well, and she supports his efforts by her efforts. She uses the flax and the distaff previously mentioned to make fine linen garments to sell. She apparently does not weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9) And because of her efforts she can be confident about the future. This is interesting because we are encouraged, and rightly so, to not put faith in our efforts for the future but to trust in the Lord. There must be a healthy balance of both.

She is wise and uses her tongue only for help and instruction. And does not waste time. I can certainly use work in this area and maybe you can, too.

Her husband and children think there is no one in the world as good as she is. Oh, that we might live before our families in such a way that they would think that of us. It is our choice whether we make that so or not.

This description of a good woman ends by reminding us that beauty and charm will not be ours for all our life but living to please the Lord can be with us for our whole life. Her good works will speak for her. And then her family is told to appreciate her accomplishments.  I like that part.  ;)

So really, this woman's characteristics are not out of our reach if we look at it through the eyes of our time in history. Pleasing the Lord; taking care of our families with wisdom, strength of instruction and love; managing our money, resources, skills and TIME with wisdom; being charitable and compassionate; and uplifting our families with loving support rather than harshness and nagging - those are attainable characteristics.

Father, please help each of us ladies, to love more, manage wisely, give generously, and grace all we meet with kindness. Especially those with whom we live day-to-day. For your glory. AMEN

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