Monday, April 11, 2011

Storyline: The Proverbs 31 Wife

Please read Proverbs 31:10-31

 Ever found yourself a little embittered by the proverbial woman of Proverbs 31?  I have! I frequently skip that chapter in my devotional readings.  This gal raises the bar, sets a standard that “feels” unattainable.  Those 21 verses pack a heap of a punch and often leave us feeling like losers.  Here are some of the qualities an excellent wife exhibits.  She’s:
*       ...a fighter and a fortress (Hebrew word for noble in verse 10 comes from a military term which means to fight valiantly or could be in reference to a military stronghold).
*        ...trustworthy.
*        ...a hard worker.
*        ...a provider.
*        ...frugal and money-wise.
* who could teach a  time-management course.
*        ...generous.
*        ...hospitable.
*        ...compassionate.
*        ...sensible and practical.
*        ...kind.
*        ...fearless.
*        ...a teacher.
*        ...reputable & praiseworthy (not just at home, but in the community).
* who cares more about the condition of her inner heart than outward beauty.

I’m already exhausted just picking out her positive traits from Scripture...drained by her energy, enthusiasm, and zest for life; after all, this woman smiles at the future.  Right now, I’m not smiling.  There are too many difficult things in our world.  The future looks bleak.  However, that’s not what this thought is about.

It is about a Proverbs 31 woman, I have had the privilege of getting to know in the heart of rural South Africa.  I am privileged to have rubbed shoulders with her, walking through a few weeks of her daily journey spread out over the course of two years.  I always knew when I met a “31” woman, I would resent her.  I was sure I would dislike her; certain she would intimidate and send me scurrying like a little cockroach into hiding because of my insecurity.  These were not my responses.  I’m relieved (I can feel a bit better about myself. There’s hope that I’m not a complete loser).  You see, you can’t dislike someone who is humble, who submits to the Lord, and just lives to be His woman.  A “31” woman doesn’t work at being those things listed above.  She simply is.  A “31” woman has “died with Christ,” has focused on “reigning with Him in eternity” (which is why she smiles at the future), and worries not about the “to do’s” of today.  This woman takes every morning as a new opportunity to serve, right where she lives, no matter how obscure her town, how large the problems of her society loom, or how complicated the answers seem.  She walks with Jesus step by step, making sure her family is cared for first, opening her hands to the needy and the poor.  As a result, she is accomplishing great things for Jesus.  She is making a huge dent in her society for eternity.  She is rescuing those who are perishing, one baby at a time; one homeless street boy by one homeless street boy; one full blown HIV mother as they show up on her doorstep; and one-by-one as opportunities to teach arise,  affirming better tomorrows for those who fall under her care. 

I have met a Proverbs 31 woman (I know this gal, she wouldn’t even want her name mentioned), but I am not embittered by her, nor angry at the “standards” she has raised.  I am challenged, yes, by her God-stories.  I am spurred on to “remember Jesus” (2 Tim 2:8) and His gospel, to die to self, and be raised again a “resurrection woman” (Romans 12:1-2), allowing the Lord to live out His will in me, one step at a time. 

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