Friday, 2 March 2012

Proverbs 31 Ponderings - The virtuous woman

We have just been reading Proverbs 31 in our family devotions, as we finish our reading and learning of the book of God's wisdom.

This is a chapter with sooooooo much to learn for us woman folk. It is jam packed with detail and description, from which we can learn many, many valuable lessons about how to take on the role of being a godly woman.

We are privileged, dear ladies.  Is there a chapter that gives such special and specific guidelines for men? Do they get the help that we do, such as in this chapter? Well, no, they don't - nothing like this at all!  We are blessed to have an little instruction book, from God himself, with guidelines about how we can best busy ourselves as women.

I KNOW there have been umpteen books/sermons/lessons shared about this book.  I will most likely repeat, time and time again, what others have said before me.  I am no great mind of the modern day.  I am, however, a wife and mother who longs to live a life that honours the Lord, and to share with others how they can do the same.

So, what's my plan?

I want to work my way through this chapter, drawing practical lessons from it, as the Lord gives me help.  I am not promising a time frame.  Not. At. All.  No promises about 31 days, or even 31 weeks.  But, as and when I am able, I will go through different practical lessons from this chapter.

So, where can I start, except at the beginning!?

"The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him. "
Proverbs 31:1

This portion is written by King Lemuel, but they are the words that a mother taught to a son.  I think that is interesting for a start.

"So, this passage is not just for women, then?"

NO!!!  We need to teach our daughters how to BE this women, and our sons what they need to LOOK for in a good wife!

I reckon this mother, of King Lemuel's, must have firstly been a  good example.  If there is one thing I have learnt VERY quickly as a mother, a child can spot a hypocrite from a thousand paces.  If we can not demonstrate these qualities in our own life, in a practical and sincere way, then our children are not going to take a blind button's notice of them for themselves.

Teaching is always best if you can DO something alongside the person you are teaching.  Not just giving them a list of instructions, and HOPING that they can put them into action on their own.  We need to SHOW them how they need to be done.

A son will recognise these qualities in a young woman, if he has not only read and understood what they are, but has SEEN them being carried out by a faithful mother.  THEN he will spot them in a potential wife! He will know what to look for.

I think also, as well as his mother being an example, I am sure she was also a GOOD example. There is a vast difference between doing a job and doing a job WELL.  I think this is demonstated in 2 different ways.

1. - The Quality of the Example

How well we do a job, is vital.  We can cook for our family.  We can open a tin of beans, toast a couple pieces of bread, and stick them together.  Or, we can find new recipes, make a meal that is hearty, tasty and shows care and consideration, and do our very best.

I am NOT knocking beans on toast as a dinner.  I  AM saying that basic and instant dinners ALL the time, may reflect that we are not doing our best.

Let me choose another example. We can clean the windows.  ("really?...the windows need cleaning?"....if you have children, you MUST see this as a job that needs to be done!?!).  We can get a duster, and quickly wipe away any little streaks and spots in the middle, and leave the bits that are hidden behind the curtain.  Or, we can get the cleaning fluid, a cloth for wiping and a cloth for buffing and a cloth for cleaning the edges of the frame, and do a thorough and GOOD job.

I KNOW that some of these examples may be subjective.  But, you get the idea.  We need to do our BEST in all that we do.  Not just "enough to get by", or so that it is done really basically.

***I do also realise that there are times in our life, where we can physically only manage the basics, but we are talking about a principle here, not the exceptions.***

2. - The Attitude behind the Example

I think this is more the crux of the matter.  WHY do we do what we do? lol What is our motivation for what and how we do something?

First of all, above all else, we can look back to the first part of the first of the Shorter Catechism.

"What is the chief end of man?

A. Man's chief end is to glorify God..."

All that we do, should be to please and glorify God.  That should be our primary motivation.  

 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
1Corinthians 10:31

I think that about covers it. ALL to the glory of God.

Cleaning toilets (yep, I jumped straight to a job I hate!...), cleaning up vomit, wiping dirty faces, sorting odd socks, crawling on the floor cleaning odd get the idea.   We have to do it all in a way that reflects that we are glorifying God.

We try and train our children to do things with the right attitude, but the same still applies to us!  We are being watched, and we need to lead by example.  

If we neglect to do something when it obviously needs to be done, children will spot that and conclude that we don't want to do it, hence the procrastination. And, they will copy! Yikes!

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance:"
Proverbs 15:13  

This, too, is something that reflects our attitude.  If our heart rejoices in doing right, then our face will reflect it! If we go moping about... face strained, shoulders hunched, frowny do a job, then that reflects that we are not doing it in a manner that glorifies God.  If our heart is right, it will be reflected on our face. And, a cheerful countenance is infectious.  If we are light-hearted and cheerful as we go about our chores and duties, then our children will be far more likely to do the same, making life in a busy household far more pleasant.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;"

Ecclesiastes 9:10

I think this is part of our attitude as well. If we are doing something with the right attitude, we will put all of our effort into it - all that we can give.   We are given the ants as an example of a diligent worker, and we should be just like them, busying ourselves with whatever needs to be done.  All of our available energy being put into it.

If we do that, then the result is inevitably going to be better!

I hear what you are going to say "but I HAVE no energy so much of the time....a busy life saps your strength".

So long as you are doing it with all of the might that you HAVE, then THAT is what the Lord expects of us.  And, if we seek Him for the strength we need, He will provide us with it! God is able!

I do want to also mention, before concluding, that another motivation behind our desire to do a good job as a wife, is to please our husband! Which husband does not like having his household cared for in the very best way possible?  Which husband will not appreciate the efforts that his wife has put into what she does?  Which husband will not appreciate his wife asking "how can I do a better job of caring for the home"?

I know that men are not perfect, and maybe some just don't care, but once again I believe these are an exception, not a rule!

You just ask your husband, and then tell me if I am wrong! *grin*

On another quick note....don't you find it interesting that these instructions and guidelines were given to a KING?  When I looked into it, I found that most commentators believe this to BE Solomon, who of course was the author of the book of Proverbs.  But, no matter WHO it is, his mother still considered it to be important to find a wife who was like the Proverbs 31 women!!! Even a king needs to choose his wife wisely..and so in this regard, our sons are to be like a king.  Thinking who he wants to rule his home, as he rules his kingdom.

So, much to think about to get started in this study.  Am *I* honouring the Lord and being a good example to my children, so they know, without a doubt, which kind of wife they want when their time comes to choose one?  May the Lord give me the strength and wisdom to BE that example to my children!

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, or link up with up with my Proverbs 31 Ponderings and grab my button to share on you blog!


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