Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scripture Sunday: Proverbs 31 -Pt I.

Proverbs 31: A Wife Of Noble Character

The next couple weeks I'm deviating a little from my one-verse format and I'm talking about a whole chunk of scripture.  It's a long one, so I'm breaking it into parts.  Proverbs 31 means a lot to me, I contemplate it often, and so I'm going to break it down chunk by chunk.  I'm offering some of my thoughts, though they are in no way meant to be taken as truths or teachings.  Here we go:

1) She Supports Her Husband
10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

The wife of noble character remember what she is called to do in her marriage vows.  The man is called to love his wife, the wife is called to respect her husband.  This wife supports him in his endeavors, speaks well of him in public, and treats him with submission.  She keeps an organized, efficient home so that he is free to spend his energies on his work.  This is not to say that women cannot work outside the home, or that men cannot stay home with the children.  But the noble wife is the heart of the home.  And what's more, her attitude is one of respect.  She prays instead of nagging.  She uses gentle words instead of arguing.  She speaks well of her husband instead of complaining to her friends.  She ensures that his reputation is protected and that he is free from worry. 

2) She Is Enthusiastic
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

The noble wife has purpose and accomplishes it with enthusiasm.  She has prayed about the best use of her time, she understands what she is to accomplish, and she sets about it with joy instead of trepidation.  So often it is easy to feel purposeless, or to feel that the job we have been called to do isn't "good enough."  Sometimes it is hard to be patient in waiting for our next calling.  But the noble wife goes about her tasks, however mundane they may seem, with enthusiasm, seeking to be the best she can be in whatever life stage she faces. 

3) She Accepts Help
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants. 

Notice - she has servants.  Yes, she works hard for her family.  She gets up while it is still dark, she makes sure that her family is well fed - but she doesn't work alone.  She has no Supermom delusions.  She delegates and that is how she is able to achieve balance in her life. Of course, we can't all afford to have servants, even if we rise early and work has as she does.  But I think that many of us have a martyr complex when it comes to trying to "do it all."   Learning how to delegate may be one of the single most important skills for a "noble wife" to have.  When you burn out, you're useless.  Take the extra time to teach your kids to clean up their own toys and fix their own snacks.  Middle school children are old enough to wash and fold their own laundry.  Instead of being ashamed if your husband winds up washing a sink-full of dishes or vacuuming the carpet, accept his help with grace. If a friend offers to bring you dinner while you're ill or clean your bathroom after the birth of your child - say yes.  Some day, when you have some spare time (because you've learned to delegate), you can return the favor.  We aren't meant to function as single entities, but as a community working together.  This wife knew it.  She took full advantage of the help available to her so that she had the time energy left over to be industrious in her work and generous in her support to her husband.

4) She Is Industrious
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

The noble wife finds ways to make the most of her time.  She takes notice of opportunities to make extra income for her family and, most importantly, she is wise with their finances.   This doesn't mean that wives must work outside the home.  It can be quite difficult to balance a true career and keep a home humming.  But she works hard at taking care of the financial aspects of the home.  She doesn't waste her earnings on fancy adornments - rather she invests them in things which will bring a return.  She works late at night to save money by spinning her own wool.  She is thrifty and careful with the resources she has, which leaves room for ventures (and a few serving girls).  I know that personally, I can get so caught up in the idea that I need "make extra money" for the family, that I don't notice all the ways I let the money we already have slip right through my hands.  I buy when I could DIY.  I spend on impulse instead of waiting for sales.  I am a sucker for quantity over quality.  The noble wife carefully examines her spending and her earning and prays about the best way to use the resources she's been given.  I could use a lot more prayer in my financial life, that's for sure.
5) She Is Generous
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy. 

This doesn't need a whole lot of explanation.  When we are generous, we are blessed in turn.  The Proverbs 31 wife knows that sharing of her abundance is both right and wise.   And because she has been industrious and frugal, she has plenty of resources to share.

That's it for this week! Check back next Sunday for the rest of the chapter.

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