Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is Proverbs 31 Attainable

Is Proverbs 31 Even Attainable?

Today, meet a lovely blogger whose writings encourage me to live out grace in all areas of my life, including homemaking! When Jessalyn isn't scraping crushed goldfish out of the carpet or changing her spit up soiled blouse for the unteenth time, she might be seen blogging at or snuggled up on her bed, coffee in hand, engrossed in a volume of Spurgeon's Sermons. Her love for the God who saved her soul from the pit compels her to live out her callings as wife, mother, and homemaker through the grace of God in a way that brings glory to his name. Hope you enjoy her take on Proverbs 21 as much as I have.

We’ve all thought it as we respectfully highlight and underline our way through Proverbs 31: “Who is this woman, and why is does she have to be so perfect?” I’m sure you would agree that she sets a pretty high standard for the rest of us imperfect wives! Often I find myself rebuked and discouraged after reading through this foundational piece of instruction for my calling as a God fearing wife.

But let me ask you this: Isn’t this the case with our Christian lives in general? Aren’t we called to the highest standards as children of the Lord? Displaying the character of Christ is not exactly an easy thing to do; in fact it is impossible in this fleshly body. This truth, however, does not change the fact that we are called to live out Christ’s holiness in our everyday life!

I was first encouraged to relate these two callings by a very wise man leading a marriage class at our church. “Wives,” he said, “when you feel like you will never be the Proverbs 31 Woman, remember that you are also called to walk as Jesus walked, which is a far more difficult task.” Jesus is the incarnation of Wisdom in every area of life, the Proverbs 31 woman is simply an example of a wise homemaker.

This virtuous woman is a specific picture of wisdom. She is the ultimate homemaker and represents the wisdom of God lived out in the daily and mundane tasks we often find ourselves overcome by as homemakers. She is purposefully described as uncommon and rare. The writer acknowledges that she is not your everyday woman, she is the ultimate woman! It is no wonder that we find it so difficult to find ourselves in her, weak and sinful as we are.

Yet, as I alluded to earlier, the standard that we are called to in this text does not diverge from the rest of Scripture. It is not in addition to the commands we already have, rather it is an application of the way of wisdom in our specific calling as wives and homemakers.

For instance, take verse 15 into consideration:

“She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.”

Now, we may not all be able to relate to this (apparently) wealthy woman’s management of her maidens, but we can all relate to the inherent benefits of rising early to serve our families. The concept of being disciplined in the area of sleep, however, is not relegated to this passage alone. Throughout the Bible we are given instruction to not overindulge in this area of our lives. Passages like Proverbs 20:13 give stern warnings about the consequences of slothfulness and encouragement to seek the rewards of a disciplined sleep life:

“Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.”

This type of discipline is encouraged throughout the Word of God, but in the instance of Proverbs 31 it is specifically applied to the life of a wife and homemaker. How wonderful to have this picture of practical wisdom to look to as we aspire to be homemakers who glorify the Lord!

The question arises, “Why does this woman bring glory to the Lord?”. How does my effort to be the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 bring glory to my God? The virtuous woman brings glory to her Savior not because of her works, but because of her faith in the One who can make it all a reality. In a very real sense, the realization that we are unable to attain this woman’s perfection, is the only way we will ever be able to resemble her!

The wisdom that the virtuous woman displays in her homemaking is just as impossible as every other example of wisdom found throughout the Word of God. What hope does any woman have of reaching these goals? The only hope any of us have is in God himself. When we are tempted to despair in our calling to be wise homemakers, we must remember these precious truths:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)

God calls us to impossible standards, but he also provides us with his own power to attain those standards. What is left for us to do, but admit our own inability and rely on the incredible reserves we have in Christ?

It is for this very reason that I titled my blog “Desiring Virtue”. I know that I am not the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31, but I desire to be! I know that I can confidently desire to be virtuous because my God delights in bringing his children to sanctification.

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” (Colossians 1:21-23 ESV)

Please stop by Desiring Virtue and leave some lovely comments .

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  1. One of the things that I've been appreciating about Jesus, is that He never asks us to do something without first being our example. Even in our homemaking, no, not necessarily the specific tasks, but the attitudes behind the tasks He has specifically shown us how to live out in the day to day. We serve an amazing Savior. This was a wonderful post. Thank you.

  2. I wanted to say thank you. Recently we as a family have been going through some very stressful things. Due to my own frustration, I have been letting worry and anger come out when I know that it's God that needs to be my focus. Thank you for the reminder. It was much needed! May God Bless you and Keep you.

  3. Loved your Blog, such wonderful advice!

  4. Thanks for visiting Taylor Made Home today. Loved this post! We all need to be reminded from time to time that our calling to be homemakers is just as real and important as someone who is called to preach. God values our position as wives and mothers. Thanks for this reminder.