We ladies can so easily fall into the comparison trap. Church-going ladies often find they are comparing themselves with the well-known Proverbs 31 Woman. To many of us, she seems like an impossible measuring stick that does nothing but discourage us. She’s the “perfect” wife, mama, Believer, home-based business owner, charity worker… she “does it all.” Many of us feel that we need to do it all, too.
There are two huge problems with that. The first is that this wasn’t a description of a real woman. This is a description of an ideal. The “virtuous” woman. All of those things listed are there because they are examples of things a virtuous woman could do. This is not a checklist of all the things a virtuous woman must do. This list needs to be divided into two categories. The “character” category and the “examples” category.
In the Character category, you find things that are traits that we should all cultivate in our own hearts.
- Her husband trusts her (verse 11).
- She brings her husband good, not evil (verse 12).
- She works hard (verse 17).
- She helps the poor (verse 20).
- She is strong, honorable and confident (verse 25).
- She is kind and wise (verse 26).
- She pays attention to what is happening with her family (verse 27).
- She isn’t lazy (verse 27).
In the Examples category, you’ll find examples of character traits in action.
- She obtains wool and flax and she is “pleased” to work with her hands (verse 13).
- She brings food from “afar” (verse 14).
- She gets up early to feed her family and servants (verse 15).
- She buys a field and plants a vineyard (verse 16).
- Her merchandise is good and her lamp doesn’t go out at night (verse 18).
- She makes thread (verse 19).
- She makes sure her family has warm clothes in the winter (verse 21).
- She makes nice clothes for herself (verse 22).
- She makes and sells fine clothing (verse 24).
Obviously, we are not all required to sell linen in order to be a virtuous and godly woman. The point is not what she is doing, it’s why and how she does it. This lady works hard to take care of her family and she is “pleased” to do it. Her heart is in it. The point is that she isn’t lazy, but she also isn’t one of those hard-working martyrs who grumbles (out loud or in her own heart) her way through all the work she “has to” do.
Can you see that this list is really about who she is, not what she does? It’s about her heart. It’s about her caring for her family and those in need with kindness, wisdom, diligence and a good attitude. This description of a virtuous woman isn’t meant to bog us down with guilt over not doing “enough.” It’s meant to inspire and encourage us to check our hearts and our character.
More about the Proverbs 31 Lady coming soon! 🙂
When you think about this description of a virtuous woman, what does it make you think and feel? Inspired? Hopeless? Confused?
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