More times than I can count I have sat in a church pew on Mother’s Day as I watched woman after woman shrink down in their seats a little farther with every passing minute. The good-hearted pastor happily preaching a sermon with the intent to encourage mothers in their roles only to actually be grinding those guilty feelings in just a little bit further.
As each verse of Proverbs 31:10-31 are highlighted, rather than feeling empowered, it feels more like a longs list of items that women everywhere are failing at. There is just no real way to meet all those standards. It’s unrealistic and impossible.
I’ll be honest, even before I became a wife and a mother I went into life thinking that the one main area that the Bible held unrealistic expectations was in the are of marriage and motherhood. I had resolved myself to always being second rate no matter how hard I tried because that women described in the pages of Scripture just did not exist.
And I entered into my Seminary career with the same mentality. Each semester I had to sit through a class where there would be discussion on the Proverbs 31 passage I would consider being sick or having an appointment so I didn’t have to sit through that class. But then, slowly, I have come to learn more of what that passage is really trying to say.
This semester I am taking a class titled “Fundamentals of Biblical Womanhood”. Each session so far has taken the what of living life a a “biblical woman” and provided the how to go with it. And so far we have been walking through a new to me interpretation of the Proverbs 31 woman.
The Virtuous Woman: Is She Relevant for Today?
The first question that often comes up is how the description found in the pages of the Bible can really be relevant to the culture we live in today? I mean, no one makes their own clothes anymore (at least not often), I don’t know anyone who has servants to look after, and there is no way that I am going to get up early and stay up late just cleaning and looking after my house.
To answer that question we have to first remember that the description for this particular woman comes from deep within the pages of Scripture. And those words, penned so very many years ago, were inspired by God. The God who is immutable. He is never changing and that means that his word is never changing. So no matter if it is 2000 years in the past or 2000 years in the future, the words found in these pages will always and forever be relevant.
A Literary Photograph of the Ideal Woman
So what is the message behind these 21 verses found at the very end of a book of the Bible chalk full of words of wisdom and instruction? To begin with this is a composite picture of the virtues that are to be found in a woman who carries the banner of Jesus Christ. Within this passage we see her inter-personal relationships, how she responds to her husband, the wide view of her life both within and outside of her home, and a close up picture of her mentality toward her life. Ultimately, what we find in this passage is a list of principles to live by, based upon the specific abilities, heritage, and talents God has bestowed upon each and everyone of us.
12 Principles found in the Proverbs 31 passage.
Alright, so if this passage isn’t a laundry list of tasks I need to be completing each and every day, then what is it? What are these 12 principles that are found within this pretty poem?
The 12 principles are: Virtuous, Trustworthy, Energetic, Economical, Unselfish, Prepared, Honorable, Prudent, Lovable, God-fearing, and Rewarded. Over time, I hope to take the time to share what each one of these 12 areas means and how they can be applied to our daily lives, within the culture we currently live in.
However, before we can begin to break that down there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves; They are
o What are my specific abilities? What can I do?
o What is my heritage?
o What are my talents?
o What makes me unique?
o What is a population of people that I can reach that others can’t reach?
o What are my motivating forces? What motivates me to action?
One we begin to break down all those areas we can begin to see how each of these 12 principles will fit into our daily lives
Becoming a Wise Woman In Progress
As we continue our in depth look at this Proverbs 31 passage a one key thing to remember is:
We need to possess an open heart to learn from the experiences of others, even when those others are far beyond our reach (1 Corinthians 10:6; Titus 2:4-5)
What is your perception of the Proverbs 31 passage? Have you found yourself ‘turned off’ or ‘overwhelmed’ when looking at the list of her accomplishments? Stay tuned to see how we break down these 12 principles!