Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Heroine of Proverbs 31 -- PART III

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. - Proverbs 31:23-25 NAS

Welcome back to our study of the Heroine of Proverbs31! You know, when I first began, I envisioned it being in three parts. However, there's so much to cover, and I'd rather we savor these verses together, reflecting on them and savoring them. Why rush through God's Word? So I've decided there will be a Part IV.

That said...let's begin!

Her husband is known in the gates,when he sits among the elders of the land. Since Proverbs 31 focuses more on Mrs. Excellent, there's not a lot written about Mr. Excellent here, but it is understood that he is known and respected. While he is tending to his business, his wife is tending to hers.

This is a simple passage within the text, but one that says a lot about the Excellent Wife. The husband has his role and the wife has hers, and you can almost put them into a modern context, seeing them at the dinner table, each discussing their day.

She works independently of Mr. Excellent, and yet they have the common goal of caring for each other and the rest of the family. (Of course, some husbands and wives may work together, as in a family business. Even then, they each have their own roles in which they work.)

Mrs. Excellent doesn't only tend the house and care for the children. That's true of the stay-at-home mom, too. She may not have a 9-to-5 job like the working mother, but she may have a little part-time at the mall or freelance work, or even her own small business, that contributes to the finances of the household, or she volunteers at church or within the community. Some Mrs. Excellents are similarly busy with being a caretaker for a special needs child or an elderly parent. In other words, there are a lot of facets to the Heroine of Proverbs 31. She and her husband are one, yes, but she has her own, God-given identity, as well. And she puts into practice Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

The Lord God has given each and every one of us not only a purpose, but also a talent, a gift, or a passion. You may be saying, "Not me! I think God forgot me when it came to handing out talents."

This is a good time to interject that our Father, the One who created us, who knew us even when we were in our mother's womb, never forgets His own. He never forgets, period! His memory is impeccable. The discussion of personal gits and talents is a great topic for another study, but here are a few things that God's Word has to say about work in general:

* "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." - Colossians 3:23 NAS

* "So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof; for the people had a mind to work." - Nehemiah 4:6 KJV

* "For the laborer deserves his wages." - Luke 10:7  ESV

* "Morever, that every man that eats and drinks sees good in all his labor--it is the gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 3:13 NAS

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.

Mrs. Excellent is certain of her talent because she puts it to use. Besides creating beautiful originals for her husband, children, herself, and the rest of her household, she makes fine garments and belts that she then sells "to the tradesmen." Now that is an enterprising lady! No wonder she burns the midnight oil. You can almost see her sitting and getting lost in her work at night, with her husband asking, "Honey, you comin' to bed?" She replies, "Oh, babe, I've got an order from the tradesmen for these to fill in the morning. Give me ten more minutes!"

The tradesmen rely on her. They give her their business. Notice how this is in direct contrast to the world's claim that the Bible teaches oppression against women. The tradesmen see that the Heroine of Proverbs 31 does good work. That she's reliable, she's honest, she's pleasant and professional in all her dealings. She takes pride in her work.

That describes a lot of women that I know. Maybe they don't know what their talent is yet, or they aren't doing a job connected to whatever true creative passion God has given them. Take heart--maybe the time and the opportunity for that hasn't been presented yet. That doesn't mean it won't.

Nevertheless, a real-life Mrs. Excellent does good work. She is reliable. She is honest. She is pleasant and professional in all her dealings. She takes pride in the work that her hand has found to do. She works as if her boss is the Lord and not man.

Because strength and dignity are her clothing, she is like Mrs. Excellent. She smiles at the future.

First, what a lovely thing to be said about you! "Because strength and dignity are your clothing." My mother came  to the U.S. from Cuba with only a third-grade education. When she and my dad divorced, she went to work as a housekeeper in a hospital. To the human eye, her clothing was a dull, blue uniform, with plain, padded white shoes. In God's eyes, and in mine as someone blessed to have been her daughter, strength and dignity were her clothing.

That is the way God sees us, because unlike man, who looks at the outside, God looks upon the heart.

And she smiles at the future.

Do you smile at the future? A better question is, who holds your future in His hand? And not only yours, but the future of your loved ones?

These are very desperate times in which we live. We don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next. We're not even promised tomorrow.

A woman was on her way to work recently. Expecting that day to be just like any other, she said goodbye to her family that morning and went off to work. Through circumstances that have yet to be explained, a train came barreling into the station at a horrifying speed, coming off of the tracks and onto the platform. That young woman was killed instantly.

That is a heartbreaking tragedy. When we hear stories like that, it has a way of putting things into perspective for us. We all want to come home and get to do, once more, those simple things that we often take for granted: Kiss our husband hello, make dinner, hug our children. When we hear about these things, what is truly important in this life becomes crystal clear.

It is natural and human to worry about the future. Yet we can rest in that, "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 23:17-18) And "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

When we walk with our sweet Savior, when our hand is firmly planted in His, we know that we can smile at the future. No matter what happens in our lives, He has promise to never--never, never--leave us nor forsake us.

And His Word is true and faithful.

To read or review Part IV of the Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To view or review Part II of the Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To review or review Part I of the Heroine of Proverbs 31,click here.

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