I have started a Bible study with a few of the women at our church on Wednesday nights. As I was praying over which Bible study to pick, I didn't feel like the Holy Spirit was giving me the go ahead on anything. I felt like God wanted me to toss the material and use the Bible as my main guideline. I don't think there is anything wrong with a solid, Biblical based workbook, I just didn't feel like God wanted me to go that route. In fact, I felt like He was drawing me to Proverbs 31. And I kept saying "no". From my experience, Proverbs 31 is the most used passage when it comes to women and bible studies. It's a great passage, no doubt! But I wanted to do something different. But God kept on drawing me back to Proverbs 31. I felt like He wanted me to use it as my basis but take a somewhat different approach. So here goes:
I don't know about you, but in the past, when I have read or studied the Proverbs 31 woman, I always feel so small compared to her....I also feel like I don't relate to her at all and that her standard is unattainable. You know the whole "we live in a different century and culture" thing? I have thought to myself:
Do I do my husband good, and never any harm? hahahaha
Do I seek wool and flax? Flaxseed? I buy that at the grocery store. Wool? Ummmm....anyone have a sheep I can borrow?
Do I bring my food from afar? Does 20 miles in my car count?
Do I rise when it is still night? Yes, but not always...
Do I consider a field and buy it? And what am I going to buy it with?
Do I plant a vineyard? I can't even keep a house plant alive.
Do I dress myself with strength? You can do that?!? I'm in!
Are my arms strong? Just one of them...from carrying my 9 month old around.
Is my merchandise profitable? what merchandise? the merchandise I bought at Walmart? Yeah, someone is making a killing off of it but not me!
Do I put my hands to the distaff? English please!
Do my hands hold the spindle? I took FFA instead of homemaking....that should tell you...
Do I open my hands to the poor and needy? yes, but not nearly enough...
Am I afraid of snow for my household? I'm probably one of the few people who hates snow...
Is my household clothed in scarlet? I can't even get my 3 year old to keep his clothes on...
Do I make bed coverings for myself? yeah, not happening...
Is my clothing fine linen and purple? Does 100% cotton count? and purple is my least favorite color.
Do I laugh at the time to come? by laugh do you mean cry?
Do I open my mouth with wisdom? I open my mouth....
Is the teaching of kindness on my tongue? I open my mouth...
Do I look well to the ways of my household? define "well"...
Okay, so I'm being a little silly!
But I know that I'm not the only one who has had some of these thoughts about the Proverbs 31 woman. But the truth is, scripture is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It's true that we live in a different time and our culture is a wee bit different. But the principals still apply today.
It is my hope through this Bible study, that I can help women to see that not only is the Bible still relevant to us today, but more specifically, so is the Proverbs 31 woman.
I also want us to realize that we shouldn't do as I have done in the past and get discouraged when we fall short of the Proverbs 31 woman. It's no lie that almost all women struggle with comparison to some degree. What we need to realize is that this passage is not describing the "perfect woman", nor should we compare ourselves to "her" in order to try and be "perfect". I also do not believe that the purpose of this Holy Spirit inspired passage is to provide us with a checklist of things that we as women must do in order to be considered "excellent" or "spiritual" etc., etc. Because let me tell you, I have tried that and by 9 am I am utterly exhausted! Ladies, it's not about a checklist. It's about a relationship. Our relationship with Christ.
I believe that we should look at the Proverbs 31 passage like we would the 10 commandments or "The Law". For example, God knew that we would break his commandments and that Jesus is the only one who would keep them all. So why did he give us The Law if He knew we would just break it anyway?
To realize how sinful we are and how in need of a Savior we are.
And it's the same with the Proverbs 31 passage. God doesn't expect us to be the "perfect woman". He wants us to acknowledge our need for Him. Not just for salvation, but for the day-in-and day-out, mundane routines that are exhausting. Because lets just be honest, being a woman is tough....being a wife is tough....and having children moves you up to a level of toughness you didn't know existed! We have to turn to Him in our need and find mercy and grace.
God gave us The Law to realize our need for a Savior but He also gave us The Law to live by. Because of our sin nature, we are not able to keep it perfectly, but we should strive to live by it.
It's the same with the Proverbs 31 woman. This passage is a description of the characteristics that a woman of God should strive to have. So starting today, lets look at this passage as a model to go by. And when we fall short, instead of hanging our head in disgust at our self, lets turn to our Father for help. Call to Him in your time of need...in your time of despair...when you don't feel like you can change one more diaper, fold one more towel, cook one more meal....etc. etc....We must acknowledge our need for Him.
So to answer the question put forth in the title of this blog post, the Proverbs 31 is an attainable standard, but not apart from God. He gave us this model to live by, but not to try and live it apart from Him. If we are merely following "the rules", then we are not much different than the Pharisees. We must nourish our relationship with God. When we are living for Him, our desires will line up with His desires. We will desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman and we know that is attainable through Christ's power within us.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be unpacking this passage and seeing how it relates to women today and what we can do to strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Not a woman just trying to "follow the rules" but a woman who is fostering her relationship with her Savior and being changed from the inside out. If you can't join us on Wednesday nights at 6:45, I will be posting a blog each Thursday that covers the previous Wednesday's bible study. I hope that you can join us!