A wife of noble character who can find?
Oh, the dreaded Proverbs 31 woman. We would all love to be God’s ideal woman, but in reality her description just makes most of us feel anxious, extremely tired and a bit hopeless. Where does she get all her energy? Up before dawn, working all day and well into the night, she completes her check list with a satisfied smile. She sews, she shops, she cooks, she farms, she sells, she spins, she gives, she protects, she interacts with the community, she speaks wisdom, she gives good advice, she keeps an orderly home and she is never idle. How could she be with that list?! And another thing. Nothing seems too much. She does her job well. So well in fact that others take notice.
What is the secret to this woman’s unending pool of motivation and energy? The love for her husband or children? The need to help her friends and neighbors? The responsibility of being a contributing member of society? These things may play into it, but will never sustain the energy it takes to be successful. We find the answer way down in verse 30—“a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
It’s not the checklist God is after here. It is the heart of the woman that determines her nobility, not her ability to stay busy all the time carrying out prescribed tasks. Does she fear the Lord is the real indicator. Once that is in place, the motivation and energy to make a difference in this world will follow. In case you are a little confused how being afraid of God could provide the positive example we see in Proverbs 31 let me give another definition.
to hold in awe
eager to know
full of enthusiasm
en theos–possesses God
If we let the definitions speak for themselves, we can imagine this woman was full of wonder about the Lord. Her mind was on him. If she was truly in awe of Him, she examined Him with a need to know more. And she did it with eagerness and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm actually means absorbing interest which gives the idea of an extreme focus. She was engrossed with Him. Her mind and attention were fully and completely occupied with God. How then could she not be affected by Him in everything she did?
In the New Testament portion of the Bible, there is a story about a couple of other women you may be familiar with. Luke 10 tells us of two sisters, Mary and Martha, who are looking forward to a gathering where Jesus was to be the guest of honor. Martha became distracted with the preparations for the event. Oh, the plans she made. But in the end she grew weary of doing everything herself while her sister seemed preoccupied with their visitor. I can’t blame Martha. I know her pain and frustration of trying to pull everything together for a perfect party. But perhaps I, as well as Martha, have missed the point on these occasions. Jesus’ answer to Martha brings it back into perspective.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
Jesus was saying that the important thing here is we are spending time together and nothing can replace that. And when all that is left of the banquet is a sink full of dirty dishes, you will still have the relationship we have built interacting with one another. That lasts forever.
Jesus was supposed to be the focus of the get together not the preparations Martha was spending so much time and energy doing on her own. I believe our Proverbs 31 woman likely has that all figured out in her life. Her focus is on the Lord and His influence is seen in all that she does and accomplishes. The same is true for us. Our lives should have Jesus at their center. We should be in awe and wonder of Him. Our curiosity should get the best of us as we eagerly and enthusiastically get to know Him. Then, everything else we are involved with will reflect His presence. A shift in perspective can bring that ideal women well within your reach. Jesus first, then that perfect woman will emerge.