Welcome to Week 1 of the True Woman study!
The first few weeks of the study are focusing on the Proverbs 31 woman. Isn't this the woman we love to hate? OK, not hate. But, seriously, I've never enjoyed reading this passage. It just seems to point out all my flaws and all the things I'm not doing right as a wife, as a mother, as a woman. This study has already shown me that I've been looking at this the wrong way.
First off, she challenges us to read through this chapter once a day. I haven't done it once per day, but I have read it several times, and I've been reading it in different translations each time, which I've really enjoyed.
Here is the passage in the Contemporary English Version.
What King Lemuel's Mother Taught Him1These are the sayings that King Lemuel of Massa was taught by his mother.
2My son Lemuel, you were born in answer to my prayers, so listen carefully.
3Don't waste your life chasing after women! This has ruined many kings.
4Kings and leaders should not get drunk or even want to drink.
5Drinking makes you forget your responsibilities, and you mistreat the poor.
6Beer and wine are only for the dying or for those who have lost all hope.
7Let them drink and forget how poor and miserable they feel.
8But you must defend those who are helpless and have no hope.
9Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless.
In Praise of a Good Wife10A truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find!
11Her husband depends on her, and she never lets him down.
12She is good to him every day of her life,
13and with her own hands she gladly makes clothes.
14She is like a sailing ship that brings food from across the sea.
15She gets up before daylight to prepare food for her family and for her servants.
16She knows how to buy land and how to plant a vineyard,
17and she always works hard.
18She knows when to buy or sell, and she stays busy until late at night.
19She spins her own cloth,
20and she helps the poor and the needy.
21Her family has warm clothing, and so she doesn't worry when it snows.
22She does her own sewing, and everything she wears is beautiful.
23Her husband is a well-known and respected leader in the city.
24She makes clothes to sell to the shop owners.
25She is strong and graceful, as well as cheerful about the future.
26Her words are sensible, and her advice is thoughtful.
27She takes good care of her family and is never lazy.
28Her children praise her, and with great pride her husband says,
29"There are many good women, but you are the best!"
30Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honors the LORD deserves to be praised.
31Show her respect-- praise her in public for what she has done.
I love that this passage begins with instructions from a mother to her son on what to look for in a wife. We have already started talking to our girls about how important a decision it to decide who you're going to marry, and what kind of person they should look for.
First of all - this passage describes a woman. This particular woman is a wife, and a mother, but first and foremost she is a woman after God's own heart. So, this passage is not just for moms or wives - it's for all women.
From lesson #1...
what does it look like to say, “I’m a believer in Christ; I’m a follower of Christ; I believe the gospel”? How does that affect the way that I view all of life? How does that affect the way that I respond to pressure? How does that affect the way I treat my children or my husband? How does that affect the job that I have or don’t have?
How do I make decisions? What do I give? What do I save? In my financial habits, in my moral habits, in my TV-viewing habits, in my use of my computer, in my friendships, in my use of free time . . . I mean, just diet and exercise! How does my relationship with Christ inform and affect and impact every single area of my life? Because if Christ lives in me (and if I’m a child of God, He does; His Holy Spirit does live in me), then He’s supposed to be in control of every area of my life.People shouldn’t be seeing and experiencing (insert your own name here). They ought to be seeing and experiencing Jesus Christ
Have I given complete control of every area to God? Have I made Him my Lord or is He "just" my Saviour. Our relationship with Jesus only begins when we invite Him into our hearts as our Saviour. In order for Him to be our Friend, we need to get to know Him better - through His Word, through prayer, and through fellowship with other believers. In order for Him to be our Lord, we need to relinquish control of our lives to Him. This is hard to do sometimes, and truly is an ongoing, daily thing.
Lesson 2 speaks about this passage being like an ideal portrait of womanhood. THIS is what we need to strive for - not the portrait that the world has painted. Not the women in the magazines or on TV. We need to stop society from dictating to us what and who we are to be, what we are to do, whether we are to stay at home or whether we are to go to work or some combination of the two. We need to look to God's word and focus on that ideal, not the world's ideal. And the two will be different. In fact, if they are not different - something is wrong with how we're interpreting the Bible.
Here's another quote that really struck me....
She’s a woman in process. She’s a woman who’s growing. And she’s a woman who, like most of us, often finds herself taking three steps forward and two steps back. You see, spiritual maturity is not so much where you are as the direction in which you’re headed. And here’s a woman who’s in process; she’s in direction.
Now, no woman can be like this ideal Proverbs 31 woman. At least, not on our own....
Anything we do try to do on our own in our striving and efforts is not pleasing or acceptable to God. The only way we can ever please God is through the righteousness of Christ, through His excellency. He’s the only One who has ever measured up to God’s standard of holiness. So here’s the first statement: No woman can be like this woman on her own.
But here’s another statement that sounds like the opposite, and it’s just as true. Any woman who is a child of God can be like this woman. Any woman who is a child of God can be like this woman because Jesus lives in us, and He’s the One who fulfills the righteousness of God. So as we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, you and I can be a virtuous and excellent woman.
Our first priority needs to be pleasing the Lord. Truly, everything else flows from that one decision.
Our next priority needs to be showing the love of God to those around us - our husbands, our children and others.
And really - that sums up the greatest commandments......
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22: 36 - 40
And, a third bottom line is....
Then she’s a woman who has a servant’s heart. That strikes me as I read this passage, that she’s utterly selfless. There are hardly any references to her doing anything for herself. Now our culture would tell us that makes a miserable woman. But I just read that passage. Does that sound like a miserable woman to you?
Here’s a woman who has joy. You see the world has sold us a bill of goods. It has told us that if you look out for yourself then you’ll be happy. But look at all those women out there looking out for themselves. Are they happy? It’s the women who live for God and others, who serve, who are the women who are truly joyful.
Again, this is not something that can be done in our strength. But if we rely on God, and take it one day at a time, one step at a time, sometimes even one moment at a time - He will transform us. He's promised to do so.
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
In Lesson #3 we start focusing on verse 10: A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
A virtuous woman (KJV), a wife of noble character (NIV), a virtuous and capable wife (NLT), a virtuous wife (NKJ), a noble wife (NIRV). The word virtuous is apparently hard to translate from the original Hebrew. It means a woman of strong character, a woman of valour.
Strength of character is what produces the other strengths, everything flows from a strong character rooted in a heart that yearns to please God.
Again, we need to work on becoming this type of woman. And when (not if!) we fail, we need to pick ourselves us, repent, and push on.
One huge admonishment in this lesson was that the way we live greatly impacts the kind of man our husband will become. If we want our husbands to be men of integrity, a men of virtue, noble men, men after God's own heart - we don't need to try to change them, we don't need to tell them how they need to improve, we don't need to nag or beg or chastise. We need to model it. We need to bless our husbands and bring out the best in them. We need to allow God to mold us into His image.
Of course, men are responsible for their own actions, not us. But we most definitely are responsible for our actions. Being this type of influence on our husbands, impacting them in this way - that is a gift for our husbands. Worth more than diamonds or rubies.
your worth is not found in what others think of you. It’s not found in what your husband thinks of you or what others say about you, but your true worth and your true value are found in your inner character and walk with God.
If you have joined this study, please post your thoughts and share them with us so we can learn from each other and support each other. If you're just wanting to join now, you can catch up by reading the links above, and then sign up so you can start receiving the emails and join us next Tuesday for Week 2.