In my reading and reflection time this morning, I read through Proverbs 31 for the gazillionth time. It is a powerful chapter with a number of facets but I tend to gravitate to the characteristics of the “excellent wife.” We will call her the P31 woman or “P31” for short.
This noble woman is affirmed here in this chapter by her husband and her children. She is acclaimed by her community. She is appreciated by those in her household (think of employees and those dependent on her). Her reputation affects all those around her…in other words, others are known in relation to her. [i.e. Once Jodi and I had children, we ceased to be “Chris and Jodi”in many circles; rather, we were known and “Dillon’s parents” or “Hayden’s parents.”]
When we “soak” (or meditate) in the chapter here, we see that P31 was not known for her beauty, though she may well have been gorgeous. She was not known for her academic achievement, her position paper on political situations, her wittiness, her number of IG (Instagram) of FB (Facebook) followers, or for her reign as the “homecoming queen” in high school. The source of her praise was her focus on others.
She was a hard worker. She was considered trustworthy by those who knew her best. Her character was strong (31:11). She was an encourager (31:11). She delighted in serving (31:12). She was innovative and industrious in providing for others (31:14). She was tenacious in her service to others (31:15). She was savvy in her business acumen and practiced “delayed gratification” choosing to reinvest her profits in long-term reward (31:16). She was strong physically as a stewardship of her health and her responsibility to serve (picture an athlete that trains to be able to perform on the court or the field) (31:17). She worked from early until late with delight (31:15,18,13). She was compassionate in her actions toward those who were in need (31:19).
The results of this lifestyle were evident to the careful observer. P31 had confidence in hard times because she had already provided well…when times were good (31:21-22). Her examplary life was a point of conversation among the people of her community (31:23). She recognizes the need and provides instruction to others in duplicating her attitude and activity for themselves (31:26).
Her children and her husband bless her. (Hold onto that because many people can earn praise from acquaintances…but praise from those who se you without your game-face on….that’s special stuff).
As we apply this, I am mindful of the ladies I have spoken with through the years who are intimidated by this picture. Some simply “idealize” the picture and act as if no woman has ever measured up. Some have attacked this as being “anti-women” as if it were a subtle attempt to subjugate the fairer sex. I SEE IT as a model for us to progressively and continually turn to, in order to evaluate and correct ourselves. I see it as a model for men and women. It is truly about being people of character, of hard work, and of service…people who are “others” oriented.
Jesus said it this was…”The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…” (Matt 20:28).
Perhaps, if we were looking for a worthy “resolution” for 2016…we might resolve to be P31s in our world.
Grace and Peace as we anticipate new beginnings!