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For the past several weeks my Pastor has been bringing sermons on roles. Not always an easy topic, but one that needs to be addressed just like any other topic.
He started with the husband of course, and we all listened along as the biblical husband was portrayed. There were some serious moments of course, and a few light-hearted ones as well. Our Pastor addressed sacrifice and love, spending a lot of time in Ephesians.
Then it was the wives turn.
Again he read from Ephesians. Then he turned to Proverbs.
Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman?
Now, I truly enjoy Proverbs 31:10-31. It’s like a playlist of daily activities all lined up in order. For me, a scheduler and natural control freak, it lays out nicely what I should be doing. Years ago I read a book by Elizabeth George all about the wonders of the Proverbs 31 woman and I really enjoyed it. I frequently turn to this section of scripture with questions or for encouragement.
So as I sat there, all ready to listen to my Pastor’s take on this section and ready to learn more, I was shocked to find I wasn’t quite living up to my own idea of this virtuous woman.
It all started somewhere around verse 13, “she seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.”
Well, I’m fresh out of wool and I have no idea what flax is, and I am not sure what I would do with either if I had them… clearly, this could be a problem.
Except that is not really the gem of this verse, is it? The gem, the good part as it would be, is in the end. “…and works willingly with her hands.” Willingly.
See, it’s not about the materials – it’s about the heart. This woman works willingly with her hands to provide for her family. She has wool and flax and is making things. Now, I don’t have those particular items, but I do have a household to care for. Dirty laundry to make clean. Ingredients to make meals. Lessons to make into knowledge. Now I can do all these things, but the real question is do I do them willingly?
Sadly, the answer is no. Quite often I do them only because I have to and out of obligation. But Proverbs makes it clear that I should do them with a willing heart. That I should delight in my to-do list and the many things I need to accomplish. That it’s not enough to just do them but to want to do them.
And that makes sense when you think of it. Dirty dishes means I had food to feed my family. Messy floors riddled with toys means my children have toys to play with. And lessons that need to be taught mean that I am lucky enough to be able to choose to homeschool my children and provide them with their education.
Blessings all disguised as chores.
When Does She Sleep?
There are two verses in this section that speak to this virtuous woman’s sleeping habits. One of which I pretty much fail at all the time.
In verse 15 it states, “she riseth also, while it is yet night…” and in verse 18 it states, “her candle goeth not out by night.”
Have I told you that I am not a morning person? Not one who does well with appointments or events that require me to be not only up and presentable, but functioning early. Yet verse 15 clearly states that I should be. Up, ready, and caring for my household early.
Now I have tried. I even used to hold a job that required my alarm to go off at 5:30 in the morning. For me, it was miserable and most days I was either late for work or just barely making it on time. I’ve tried multiple alarms, moving the alarm, and even going to be early. But mornings and I just don’t mix. And it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.
For now, this one is going to have to simply go in the “working on it” column until I can get better. Until I can figure out a way to be a morning person.
But what is she doing with her morning and why is she up so early? The verse continues, “and giveth meat to her household…” She’s up early to care for her family. To make sure they are taken care of and able to start their days out well.
What about you? Are you an early riser or more of a sleepy head? And more importantly, are you rising with the intent of caring for your family or doing your own thing?
For me, it’s a little a both. Honestly. When I first get up a need a few minutes to clear the cobwebs. My body may be out of bed, but Mommy needs a moment to be able to function.
Burning The Midnight Oil
The other side of this coin is in verse 18. No, she’s not a night owl binge-watching Netflix or checking the latest updates on social media. Rather, we see in 18 and 19 she’s up late working. Specifically, in verse 19 she’s working at her spindle to create the items she needed previously (the wool and flax).
We’ve already established that I don’t have wool and flax, and I’m willing to bet you are fresh out too. But what do you do in the evening? After the kids are all tucked in, and the kitchen is cleaned up, where are you?
My evenings vary, I will admit. Some nights I’m hanging out on the couch with hubby and we are watching whatever show we are currently interested in. Some days it’s the only time we get together. These nights are less about the show though, then they are about spending a few minutes together talking about our days, planning for the future, and just having an uninterrupted conversation.
Other evenings I’m at the computer working. Evenings are my most productive time on my blog. A time when I can type up posts, plan out a few days worth of ideas, and not feel guilty about this endeavor. They are also when I do a majority of my school work. Whether it’s grading or planning for tomorrow, it’s a great time for me to make sure the kids are learning and moving forward. It’s also the only time of the day I have some uninterrupted time to accomplish large projects, learn a new lesson I need to teach, or grade a paper.
We’ve already established that the Proverbs 31 woman is a willing worker (verse 13) who enjoys caring for her home. And that she is a busy lady who both starts her day early and ends it late (verse 15 and 18). But what about all the hours in between?
Well, it looks like she is quite busy. Feeding her family (verse 15). Owning property and growing items (verse 16). Making clothes (verse 21). Selling homemade items (verse 24). And keeping her husband’s name safe (verse 23).
Just to name a few.
Now how do we do this? How do we even try to live up to this virtuous wife in a modern day society?
We do this by making sure there are meals available. By providing both healthy and nutritious meals that will help our children grow and learn. We do this by being wise stewards of our time, our money, and our abilities. I may not be able to make clothes for my family, but I sure can bargain shop and utilize hand-me-downs. I am not so good with the gardening and growing, but I do my best to stretch my grocery budget and get creative with meal planning. I don’t currently have any homemade items I can sell, but I do have an online business.
What about you? Are you working to ensure your family is fed and teaching your children the fine art of making good, wholesome family meals? Do you do your best to grow your own foods or sale shop rather than eat out and shop unwisely? Have you checked out local second-hand shops, thrift stores, or even yard sales for kids clothing rather than buying brand new? Do you have a product or skill you might be able to use as a supplemental income to help the family budget?
The Proverbs 31 woman is busy. She’s not your cliche stay-at-home mom sitting at home all day eating bonbons and watching soaps. Rather, she’s industrious, organized, productive, and busy. Her days are literally filled with to-do lists, chores, and projects. She is aware that her every action and moment must be used for the benefit of her family.
And she works hard to keep her family’s name good. She’s involved in the community she lives in, aware that her actions both at home and in town directly reflect on her family and her husband, and she does her best to ensure their name is kept in good standing.
How Does She Do It All?
Verse 27 sums this up nicely. It states, “she looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” She is constantly observing the goings on in her house and adjusting as needed. She’s not sitting around waiting for things to be done, she is doing them, or at least setting into motion the events to get them done.
If you read through the list of items the Proverbs 31 woman does it’s enough to make most women feel, well, inadequate. It’s a tall order and long list.
But with grace, we can do it. We can undo the drastic change that society has placed on the “modern woman” and go back to a Biblical view.
I’m not saying we all need to go back home, give up on careers we may have worked hard to achieve or interests of our own. What I am saying is that we need to remember that we were created differently. For a different purpose.
And that’s OK.
As much as society wants to tell us it’s not, it really is. We need to remember that.
We need to remember the promises that this section of scripture offers us as well. “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, he praiseth her (verse 28).”
Wow! She does all of this, with a willing heart mind you, and her family praises her! They see what she is doing, they see the value in her position in the household, and they praise her and thank her for it. No ungrateful family members in this household.
But praises cannot be your sole motivation or even a part of your motivation here. Wanting to be like the Proverbs 31 woman can only come from a desire to follow God and obey Him.
Which happens to be the second half of verse 30; “but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” We can do all of the items listed in verses 10-29, but without the fear of the Lord, we are lacking the proper motives. Proverbs 1:7 also reminds of this, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;” The beginning of understanding God, His rules, His guidelines, and His order for things. The beginning of understanding and of trying to live a Godly life.
If At First You Don’t Succeed…
Try and try again, as the old saying goes. Some days will be easier than others. Some changes will be easier to make. One step forward, hopefully, followed by another.
Change is never easy. And old habits die hard as they say. But it’s not impossible. It’s not impossible to attempt to live more as a Proverbs 31 woman and less as a Vogue one. To live more by a Biblical standard and less as by a worldly one.
One way to change is prayer and reading. Another way is to look for some Proverbs 31 women in your church and among your friends. And of course, good old-fashioned effort. Whether it’s picking just one area to improve on every month, or one every week, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is your heart and what you put into it.
So set yourself a goal. And try.
And get back up again if you don’t succeed and try again.
As for me, I’ll be attempting (again) to try getting up earlier in the morning. It may be a battle I never win this side of heaven, but it’s not something I am giving up on simply because living up to and trying to be a virtuous woman is too important to me.