Oh, the dreaded Proverbs 31 woman is in our sights today. Of course we would love to be God's ideal of a woman but in reality her description just makes most of us feel anxious, extremely tired and a bit hopeless. Where does this woman get all her energy? Up before dawn working all day and well into the night, she completes her check list with a satisfied smile. She sews, she shops, she cooks, she farms, she sells, she spins, she gives, she protects, she interacts with the community, she speaks wisdom, she gives good advice, she keeps an orderly home and she is never idle. How could she be with that list! And another thing. Nothing seems too much. She does her job well. So well in fact that others take notice.
What is the secret to this woman's unending pool of motivation and energy? The love for her husband or children? The need to help her friends and neighbors? The responsibility of being a contributing member of society? These things may play into it but will never sustain the energy it takes to be successful. We find the answer way down in verse 30- "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."
Its not the checklist God is after here. It is the heart of the woman that determines her nobility not her ability to stay busy all the time carrying out prescribed tasks. Does she fear the Lord is the real indicator. Once that is in place the motivation and energy to make a difference in this world will follow.
In case you are a little confused how being afraid of God could provide the positive example we see in Proverbs 31 let me give another definition.
There you have it. I believe that if we follow our English definitions this woman was full of wonder about the Lord. Her mind was on him. She examined him with a need to know more about him and she did it with eagerness and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm [noun] actually means 'absorbing interest' which means she was extremely interested in the Lord but not only that she was engrossed [adj] with him. Her mind and attention were fully and completely occupied with the God. How then could she not be affected by him in everything she did?
There is a story about two other women in the New Testament you may be familiar with. Two sisters, Mary and Martha, look forward to a gathering where Jesus was to be the guest of honor. Martha became distracted with the preparations for the event. Oh, the plans she made but in the end she grew weary of doing everything herself while her sister seemed preoccupied with their visitor, I can't blame Martha. I know her pain and frustration of trying to pull everything together for a perfect party. But perhaps I, as well as Martha have missed the point on these occasions. Jesus' answer to Martha brings it back into perspective.
Jesus was saying, "The important thing here is we are spending time together and nothing can replace that. And when all that is left of the banquet is a sink full of dirty dishes, you will still have the relationship we have built interacting with one another. That lasts for ever."
Jesus was supposed to be the focus of the get together not the preparations Martha was spending so much time and energy doing on her own. I believe our Proverbs 31 woman likely has that all figured out in her life. Her focus is the Lord and his influence is seen in all that she does and accomplishes. The same is true for us. Our lives should have Jesus at their center and everything else we are involved with will reflect his presence. A shift in perspective can bring that ideal women well within your reach. Jesus first, then... The noble lady of Proverbs-that 'perfect' woman- simply put is one who fears the Lord.