You know it occurs to me that the Proverbs 31 woman is less about being ‘perfect’ and more about ‘purpose’. I want to live my life with purpose because I will never reach any persons idea of perfect.
God created me (and you) for a reason, a mission and as a unique individual. He did not create me to be just another ‘perfect Christian woman’ with a list of rules and expectations that I must live up to in order to be seen as delightful. He made me and the way he made me is perfect, especially when I allow Him to use me (and you) for His kingdoms purpose.
Did you know, The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t a real woman at all? She is fictional. she is a combination of desirable attributes that both men and women can learn from. The book of proverbs is about wisdom and the proverbs 31 woman is a wise woman if nothing else. She keeps her priorities straight and she puts her God and her family at the top of her list. However, as we look closely we see that she doesn’t forget about herself either.
Lets look at it. What wisdom can we find from the Proverbs 31 woman? Lets look not so much at the list of things she does but more at what a wise woman like her, finds important. Let’s look at her character.
-supporting, trusting, reliable
-worth more then a paycheck to her husband
-life enhancer, life giver and a blessing
To bring it back to wisdom (which is what proverbs is all about), wisdom provides the same benefits as a good woman—it is worth more than money, you can always trust it to make the right decision, and it provides blessings for those who have it.
-Keeps her family as her priority
-She takes care of her responsibilities whatever they are
-She makes sure that she is skilled in what she chooses to do with her life
-She happily helps others
-She is happily active in her community
-She genuinely cares for the needs of others
-She knows what she’s good at and does it well
-She has a healthy self confidence and self esteem
-She educates herself
-She values what her skills can offer to her family and her community
-She is able to also look after her own needs and sets healthy boundaries
-She respects herself
-She is able to offer wise and kind advice to her friends and family
-She has a ministry from God and does her best to fulfill that ministry; married, unmarried, with children or childless
-She loves well
-She has a good reputation because she loves and obeys the Lord
The biggest key to this passage is found in vrs 30.
30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Once again, we are brought back to the foundational teaching of the Bible. A love relationship with Jesus will spill over into a loving attitude toward ourselves and others.
ON TOP OF THAT and here is the real kicker that I think most people miss…READY FOR IT??? The Proverbs 31 passage is not meant for women it is actually meant for MEN!!
Yup, the ONLY instruction in the entire passage is given to men.
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
In fact, did you know that Jewish men memorize this verse as a praise to their wives 😀 The point, I think, is to help men. Solomon is giving men a tip..encouraging them to recognize all that their individual woman do and are for them as well as ways they can encourage their wives to become all that they are meant to be in Jesus. It was like Solomon (who was super wise but lived with far too many women) was giving men a hint. “Don’t just focus on yourselves everyday. Keep your eyes open to the things your wife does. Notice her heart. Praise her both privately and in public. This will help you be happy and it will help her become the woman you want her to be.”
He also understood that when you see and recognize what is in your own home then your eyes will not be as likely to wander to other pastures. Proverbs 17:2 A discerning man keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. Keeping men focused on the blessing that they have right in front of them will help them to stay deeply in love with the wives of their youth. This idea of how a man should view a woman is backed up in other parts of the bible as well.
As usual, studying Gods word is so much deeper than I at first expect. The Proverbs 31 woman embodies what a healthy person, a person who has become whole in Jesus will reflect. Its not about what she ‘does’ (sewing, buying, selling) but who she ‘is’ (caring, loving, wise and supportive) that Jesus cares about. Its those things he wants the world to care about too and so he draws attention to that in these verses.
Isn’t that freeing? Don’t you feel better? no more guilt and shame about not being able to cook or that the laundry isn’t done every day! Instead, Jesus offers us acceptance and love for who I was made to be. I guess we are a lot closer to being the Proverbs 31 woman then we thought, aren’t we? I was made to be the best ME, with my own personal skills and thoughts and opinions. With my struggles and weaknesses that He will help me overcome. All of me, every part, I have been made for the kingdom…and so have YOU!
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17