The Proverbs 31 Woman: A Splendid Standard
Happy New Year! Praise God for allowing us all to make it through 2011. Personally, it was by far one of the most painful albeit joyful years in my walk with the Lord. Truly a year of great growth, great challenges, and great leaps in my personal faith in God. As a result of the climactic year that was just a week ago, I've come into the new year with a new sense of self that has absolutely way less to do with me and abundantly more to do with Jesus Christ, who He is, and how I can best represent Him in my life. As a Christian woman, my ultimate focus is to glorify God shown in a lifestyle of worship in gratitude for the gift of the blood of Jesus Christ that made me in right-standing with my Creator. There’s nothing else to it.
With that said, here's the basis for this post. In recent months I've noticed a growing trend among the ranks of young Christian women, which while it can be encouraging if sought and lived out in its proper context, it's starting to suggest aself-centered position and is growing more removed from the writer's original intent. This trend that I call into question is the self-proclamation of “being” the highly esteemed Proverbs 31 woman. Before I get cyber-stoned, please hear me out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to be like anyone of noble character, as we are given plenty of Godly examples throughout scripture of those who walked worthy of their calling. Do me a quick favor and re-read the previous sentence. I just want to make it absolutely clear that this is not a knock on those who want to exemplify a particular person's character trait. It’s an expression and form of encouragement after some time spent in observation.
My case is simply this: Our lives should profess what we aspire to be. If we're going to brag on anything, it should be on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the work that He continues to do in our life. Secondly, our life's profession should line up with the character of who or whatever we aspire to reflect. With regard to the woman described in Proverbs 31 let's go deeper. Prov. 31:26 tells us that she speaks with wisdom and the law of kindness is on her tongue. Speaking with wisdom isn't limited to just speaking the knowledge you may know. It's having the wisdom to discern when to speak, how to speak, and ensuring that Jesus Christ is glorified in the manner in which we speak. Eph. 4:29-31 tells that our words should edify, impart grace to the hearers, and that we should put off wrath and evil speaking. I find it to be quite contradictory when I see young Christian ladies who profess to be (almost to say “have arrived”) a Proverbs 31 woman, speak in a way that's void of anything wholesome. Emotional rants, having a combative disposition when corrected, and idol speech on social media sites for example is not only immature, but it stains the very profession that the young lady claims and shows little distinction between the Christian and the world.
If we look back just one verse to Prov. 31:25, we are shown that strength and honor are her clothing. While strength is of utmost importance as it relates to her having God given strength to carry out all that she’s responsible for, I’d like to take a closer look at honor. It is one thing to do an honorable deed, but being clothed or covered in honor heightens the standard.When I think of honor, words like noteworthy, praise, and dignity come to mind. This is to say that a woman who is clothed in honor represents the life of a woman who conducts herself in a manner that is worthy to be praised. She’s known to have a renowned reputation. A woman who has a gentle and quiet spirit as referenced in 1 Pet. 3:4. In a broader context, a quiet spirit is having a calm temper, a contented mind, a heart free from passion, pride, envy, and irritability, a woman who isn’t thirsty for attention but who’s life is hidden in the shadow of God’s glory in Christ Jesus (Col. 3:3).
Allow me to paint this picture. When I see young Christian women spend more time and effort in maintaining or marketing if you will, “her” image, Godly poise is not what comes to mind. When a young Christian woman is more concerned with the affairs of her own heart (Jer. 17:9) and makes decisions in haste as a result of her own desires, decency doesn’t come to mind (Prov. 19:2). When a young Christian woman is overly defensive when admonished, humility and submission do not come to mind (Prov. 11:2). Having a Godly poise, conducting ourselves in a decent manner, exercising humility and submission are “honorable” in the sight of God. I find it disheartening when a young woman proclaims that she is a Proverbs 31 woman when the traits I listed above are not evident in her life on a consistent basis. It not only waters down the nobility of those women who manifest these fruits on a consistent basis in their lives, but it leaves room for little distinction between the women of Faith and the women in the world. The women of the world live to exalt themselves, and we on the other hand should be living to exalt Jesus Christ.
In no means am I stating that we as young women have to meet the mark every time. I’d be legalistic to do so. By God’s grace and His grace alone, as we continue to seek after Him, we are being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ! His image the aim. Let’s not allow the imagery of one person’s characteristics be the ceiling that we reach for. I only covered two verses in Proverbs 31 specifically relating to the Proverbs 31 woman, and apart from the other 20 verses that detail more admirable traits of her life, it’s quite the standard. A splendid standard indeed; however, it’s not the end all. I would encourage us to take the labels off of our lives, grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord, be more conscientious of Who we represent, and be women whose lives tell more of the glory of God than the glory we seek for ourselves. In praying on, focusing more on, and applying these things, our lives of being true women of God will speak louder than our mouths ever could.
In closing, a Christian woman should not have to verbally state, "I'm a Proverbs 31 woman". The fruit of the Proverbs 31 woman will be clearly and consistently evident in her life and others will be able to affirm such.
“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.” –Prov. 27:2