As I stated yesterday, I have been studying Proverbs 31 this week, regarding the topic of "The Model Woman," from a Kay Arthur inductive study on, A Marriage Without Regrets. I am hoping that my transparency and honesty through what I am learning is going to encourage other women who may have similiar struggles as me. I never want to come across as "preachy" or a "know it all.". I feel that the Lord wants me to share what I am studying and what He is revealing to me. I am not pretending that I have it all together. I really don't. It is only by God's grace that He has made me into His beloved child......only by His love that I have a future hope......only by His mercy that I am being transformed.
Speaking of having it all together, I really had a hard time studying Proverbs 31. The woman described is beyond amazing and my initial response was to feel like a total failure. If this passage is reflecting the model woman, than I am certainly not in that category. However, I serve a God who is full of hope, not condemnation, so I know that I need to keep moving forward in His grace. He doesn't want me to stand helpless or feeling like a failure, or even worse becoming idle and complacent about God's Word. So why did God give us this passage and what can we learn from it?
I was challenged by some of the attitudes and characteristics of this woman. While the tasks that she does are very important too, I feel like her attitudes are what I would like to discuss today. Here is a general list of some of the attitudes of the woman that I observed while reading Proverbs 31.
* delightful when working with her hands (vs. 13)
* strong (vs. 17)
* Not afraid (vs. 21)
* clothed with dignity and strength (vs. 25)
* smiles at the future (vs. 25)
* wise (vs. 26)
* teaching of kindness (vs. 26) ---also refer to yesterday's post :)
* not idle (vs. 27)
* fears the Lord (vs. 30)
I liked this list, because I found it helpful to go through each characteristic and examine my own life. I would really like to do a more in depth study on this whole passage, but I am going to stay a bit more narrowly focused for today. I really loved some of the actions of this woman from Proverbs 31 as well (ex. extending her hands to the needy and poor, etc.), but I think that will have to be another post some time :)
In applying this to my life, I found that I am not always delightful when it comes to the work that I do. Some days, I just want to be doing something different, or feel like I have a rewarding career where I am making lots of money. Sometimes I think the grass is greener on the other side. I wonder what it would look like to be delighted with the everyday tasks like washing dishes, endless loads of laundry, cooking meals, cleaning them up, changing diapers. What kind of example would that be to my children if they saw me full of joy and delight about the work God has given me? What if they experienced my joy in the mundane everyday things? What would it be like for my husband to come home and find me a delightful person to be around........not someone who is being controlling, nagging, or complaining? What would it be like for my family to observe delight when we are working together to serve others? For me, I genenerally struggle with my attitude more in the wintertime.... I have to admit. I am tired of feeling inactive. I miss the sunshine and the warm breeze and even mowing the grass. I get tired of feeling cooped up in our house with no way to burn off energy. After reading this passage, though, I am wanting Jesus to show me what it would look like to be delighted with this work He has given me, even if it is in the middle of winter. I want to lay aside my excuses and selfishness and am praying for a delightful heart and delightful hands.
Yesterday's post was written about the characteristic of teaching with kindness. I will not expound on that anymore today, but I am seeing that this characteristic goes hand in hand with having a delightful attitude. I really like a comment that a friend Nikki left on my post from yesterday. She reminded me of a quote we both heard at a conference last year...."Children are souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured." I have been thinking about this a lot today and I feel like having that mindset will help me to teach with kindness and delight; not out of fear that I am not keeping up with the world's standards or trying to impress someone. It encourages me to stand accountable to the Lord alone, and nurture my children in a way that pleases Him.
Finally, another characteristic that challenged me personally was about the "fear of the Lord" (vs. 30). This characteristic seems to be of highest importance. I wonder if any other characteristic that was mentioned in Proverbs 31 would be possible, unless the woman was living in total respect and dependence on the Lord. What am I sometimes fearing more than I fear the Lord? Am I worried about other's opinions of me? Am I seeking to please man or to please God?
I have been personally challenged by some of these attitudes that I don't always display in my life. I want to make sure it is clear that I don't believe that having these characterisctics are required for salavation. I know that Jesus saved me by His own works, not anything I have done. I don't ever want to add to the gospel. I know that Paul wrote in Galatians, that "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." I don't want to make anyone feel like they have to earn their relationship with God by works. That is not the gospel. Now that the gospel has been revealed to me, I want to obey God out of my love for Him.
I hope that maybe some of you can relate to what I have shared and that maybe you feel challenged, strengthened, or encouraged in your life's journey.