We are finishing up 31 Days of Proverbs today! I can’t help but feel some trepidation over this chapter. So much has been written on Proverbs 31 and the “virtuous woman” that I struggle to begin. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that when I read this chapter I can feel inadequate. Go read Proverbs 31 and let’s look at it together.
When I see this section labeled, “In Praise of a Capable Wife”, I am going to take the word, “capable” to heart. We are capable, but our limited abilities suggest that we don’t have accomplish any of these things alone.
Only God Himself can give us what we need to be the woman He desires for us to be.
I am a pastor’s wife, mamma, nana, co-worker, daughter, sister, and friend; but those relationships don’t define who I am. Only one relationship can define the kind of wife or mom or friend I will be: my relationship with God. He knows me better than anyone else. He knows what I am capable of. He knows my weaknesses and my strengths–and it is my choice to let Him lead me on the path He has chosen for me.
Psalm 139:1-4 says,
“Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.”
So here we are, looking at a reflection of the kind of woman who is praiseworthy; and we see she is trustworthy, hard-working, skilled and strong.
“Strength and honor are her clothing and she can laugh at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:5
When I ask myself what my strengths are, I realize that this is where I have struggled the most (“I can clean toilets pretty well!”), and I laugh, but that’s not a correct interpretation. If I were to ask my husband he would say that I am a pretty hard worker, but that’s only one thing on the list. I trust my husband and he trusts me–and together we depend upon the Lord to help us have a healthy marriage, but am I really strong?
The hard part for me has always been a lack of confidence in myself and my abilities. I am not a horrible wife or mother, yet when my kids were younger I always felt like I was never quite good enough. If one of my kids acted up, or I got in a quarrel with my husband, my tendency was to always see myself as a failure. Mistakes can make or break us. It was easy for me to love and forgive other’s mistakes, but sometimes found it hard to forgive myself–even though I knew the truth of the Bible that God will forgive us when we repent and turn from our sin.
My confidence should never be in my own abilities, but in God’s ability to use me.
I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary to Ecuador whose husband was killed by a tribe he was trying to reach with the gospel:
If you look at the very next verse, you will see the reason strength and honor can be ours:
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26
We’ve learned through this study that true wisdom only comes from God. If we are going to be the woman that God wants us to be, then wisdom is not just a valuable tool, but a treasure. Being adorned with beauty or talent or riches doesn’t guarantee that we will be a Proverbs 31 woman. Those attributes come a dime a dozen. We can see plenty of examples in the media of women who have all of those things that would not be considered virtuous. It is only by desiring inner beauty and allowing God to use what gifts and talents we have for His glory that we can look at our reflection with confidence.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
I have never enjoyed accolades. But there will come a day. The only praise I want to hear is, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. [see Matthew 25] When I walk through the gates of the heavenly city, I want anything that can be labeled as good or worthy in me to bring honor–not to myself–but to the One who made me and died for me.
I wonder if anyone noticed, but I used succulents for all of the graphics I made for this study. Succulents are a thick, drought-hardy plant that not only stores water in its leaves and stems, but can also thrive on limited water resources, such as dew or mist. Can you see how valuable it would be to store up God’s Word and the lessons we’ve learned so that when the dry or difficult times come we are prepared. Saturating ourselves with the Truth of the Bible equips us for whatever lies in our future. Deep, well-watered roots help a plant to thrive. If this is the first time you have read the Bible every day–or it’s been awhile, I hope you are coming to realize how beneficial it is to make God’s Word a priority in your life. Let this be the beginning of a lifetime of spiritual growth.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I would love to hear from you!