The Virtuous Woman…An Impossible Ideal?
Have you ever read Proverbs 31:10-31 about the virtuous woman and wondered, “What is a distaff?” Or a spindle?
And then wondered, “How can I be a virtuous woman? I don’t even know what some of these things are!”
Or thought, “I don’t even know how to sew. Much less how to make my own cloth!! How will I ever be considered a virtuous woman?”
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Or thought, “I don’t have money to buy land. And even if I did, where I live, people don’t grow vineyards.”
And what about getting up before daylight every day? Is that required to be a virtuous woman?
It is easy for me to read this passage and feel discouraged, and quite frankly, severely lacking.
But as I read this passage this week, the Lord showed me something I’d not ever realized before…the true test of how well I measure up as a virtuous woman!
I was so encouraged! And I hope you will be, too. But first, let’s take a look at this seemingly impossible ideal of womanhood.
But even before we do that, it is important that we first understand that God has given us this passage not to discourage us, but rather to help us. To help us grow in our aspirations as wives, mothers, homemakers, and even entrepreneurs.
The virtuous woman’s example is what we should aspire to. And what our sons should hope for and look for in their future wives, and mothers for their children.
So, what about this virtuous woman does God praise and put forth as an example for us?
Faithful and trustworthy. (v. 11-12)
A willing and hard worker. (v. 13-24)
Not lazy. She serves rather than expecting to be served. (v. 15)
Intelligent and involved in the business world, providing a secondary income for her family. (v. 16, 24)
Strong, taking care of herself in order to care for her family. (v. 17)
Diligent, finishing what she starts, even if she must lose sleep. (v. 18-19)
Compassionate to those in need. (v. 20)
A loving, caring wife and mother, making sure her family is fed and clothed and warm. (v. 15, 21)
Aware of her appearance as a reflection upon her husband and her family. (v. 22-23)
The faithful support and influence behind her successful husband. (v. 23)
Kind and wise…not loud, harsh, etc. (v. 26)
If I read this passage thinking of the kind of person this woman was, instead of stressing about the particular ways in which she revealed each character trait, then I can see that I, too, really can be like her!
For example, I, too, can make sure my family has warm clothes for winter without actually having to sew them! I can also help with our family income, if needed, in many different ways other than making and selling fine linen and girdles. And I can make sure my family is fed without having to plant a vineyard, or even a garden.
Our lives won’t look exactly like hers, but we can still have a virtuous character like hers. Faithful, trustworthy, hard-working, kind, etc.
So, what is the true test of how well we measure up as a virtuous woman?
It is found in the last part of the passage that summarizes this woman’s life and service. (Proverbs 31:27-31)
The true test…
Part 1—Does the fear of the LORD guide my life?
Do others know that you love and fear the Lord? And long to show Him that love by your life?
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30
If the LORD is our number one focus and love, and our families come right behind, then we “shall be praised,” or, in other words, considered a virtuous woman and praised as such.
Part 2—Do my husband and children, and others I serve, think well of me?
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Proverbs 31:27-28
The virtuous woman’s husband and children praised her for her character, and love and care for them. Would your husband and/or children be able to readily think of godly character traits that they could praise you for?
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Do they know with all certainty that they come first, after God, in your heart and life?
Or, if you are single and don’t have children, are there people you are serving who know you well enough to praise you, and would praise you, because you have invested in them?
If so, then you, too, are a virtuous woman!
Their praise tells you so!
I’m not a perfect wife or mother or anything else. How about you?
But my husband and girls do from time to time tell me how much they love and appreciate me and why. So, when I read verse 28 this week, the Lord helped me realize that if they, who know me best, can still praise me, then I’m doing something right! I will certainly never excel ahead of this virtuous woman. But that’s O.K. Because I can still be numbered among the “many” who “have done virtuously.”
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Proverbs 31:29
I don’t have to compete with the virtuous woman who has excelled all of us. She did well.
But so can I!
And so can you, dear friend! Just keep…
Drawing nigh to Him,
*The opinion of others is only one gauge of how well we are doing in our walk with God. Your circumstance may be that you are serving others with all your heart with no appreciation whatsoever. But God sees your virtuous character. And will not forget your labor of love. (Hebrews 6:10)
You, too, “shall be praised!”
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT
So, are you a virtuous woman? Or, at least, an aspiring one? Has the Proverbs 31 description of the virtuous woman ever intimidated you? In what ways? What are your thoughts about the virtuous woman?