Prov. 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-31
I have to admit, I approach today’s topic with fear and trembling, with more reason than one. First, there are a LOT of proverbs which cover the topic of wives and God’s expectations of them. Second, there’s a problem with political correctness, which tends to exonerate women and even pretend as if the Fall doesn't touch them. This might sound strange to modern ears, but it needs to be said: Women are just as much sinners as men are. They tend to have different struggles than men do, but they need a Savior to forgive and change them just as much as the guys. Not any more than men do, but not any less either.
And third, I always feel a little weird dishing out biblical commands which might appear to be self-serving, like Paul's command to wives to submit to their husbands. But as the old saying goes, "I gotta calls 'em as I sees 'em." If God tells someone to do something, that obligation to obey doesn't depend on who the messenger is.
There are a lot of verses in Proverbs which talk about how bad it can be with a woman who’s not under the control of the Holy Spirit. In fact, at least five times Solomon talks about how horrible it is to live with a “quarrelsome wife.” Of course, no woman is sinless, but I’m very thankful that my wife really puts a lot of effort into being sweet, kind, and considerate. But ladies, before we get to the positive portrayal, we need to at least glance at the negative one. Are you “quarrelsome” or “ill tempered”? It’s the man’s responsibility, as we saw yesterday, to be at home and not to find excuses to stay away. But his responsibility is made a whole lot easier if you make home a place that he wants to come to. Your obligation (as well as his) is to make home a refuge from all the stress and. . .crud that's out in the world, not a place to add to it. Just food for thought.
But let’s look at the positive side of this, shall we? First let’s take a look at the first two verses in today’s reading. Just like a quarrelsome wife is a curse, a godly and Christ-like wife is a sign of “favor” from the Lord. If she’s prudent (meaning a good keeper of the household’s resources), then she’s a blessing straight from God, and you should value her and treasure her and cherish her more than any other gift--outside of salvation itself--he’s placed in your hands. All the gold in the world, all the fame and power a man can ever dream of, is not worthy to be compared to her. Now on to the last passage (from chapter 31); what does a “wife of noble character” look like?
• Her husband can trust her with any of the family’s resources and can have full confidence in her.
• She's extremely hard-working, and not afraid to get her hands dirty. You know the saying “burning the candle at both ends”? This is a prime example of that.
• Her focus might be on the running of the household, but this is a business woman as well. She is shrewd in her business dealings, and drives a hard bargain. She knows how to invest in order to help provide for the family.
• She's very generous to those in need.
• In contrast to the simple man, she prepares for the future. She doesn’t wait for disaster or hard times to come, and that’s why she doesn’t have to fear when it “snows.”
• She’s not averse to being clothed well (“in fine linen and purple”) but more importantly, she’s clothed in strength and dignity. Does this sound like a fragile flower of a woman who faints when trouble appears?
• Instead of idle chatter and gossip, her mouth is filled with “wisdom” and “faithful instruction.”
• Considering what it’s like to get most children out of bed, the way this woman’s children greet her in the morning is a strong indication of their love and respect for her.
• And then there’s the judgment of her husband. He knows that he’s found a precious jewel in this woman, and he’s not afraid to tell her so. And based on the last verse, he loves to brag about her in public ("at the city gate").
• And most importantly, she’s a woman who fears the Lord. All her other virtues are founded upon her intimate relationship with her Savior God.
Let’s take note of a couple of final points here. First, does any woman measure up to this standard perfectly? Of course not! Every woman out there is a sinner. Every woman who reads this needs God’s grace to forgive and to change her, just like every man needs it for himself. All of us fall short of what we’re supposed to be.
The application for ladies is pretty obvious. But what about guys? To all the husbands out there, if your wife is anywhere close to this, then you need to encourage her. Undoubtedly she’s got some of the virtues listed here, and you need to focus on those like the proverbial laser-beam. Praise her both in a private family setting (vs. 28-29) and as publically as possible (vs. 31). And pray for her. And show her the same type of grace and patience that you want God to show you.
And to any single men out there—Is this the type of woman to which you’re attracted? Or are you just on the lookout for a pretty face and body? And are you the type of man to whom a Proverbs 31 type of woman would be drawn?
See? I’m an equal opportunity offender. Solomon manages to step on just about everybody’s toes today, doesn’t he?
Father, none of us meet your standard perfectly. All of us desperately need your grace to both forgive us and to change us. And that’s what I’m asking for.