There are two women in the Bible that women love to hate. Well, perhaps hate is a strong wrong. Let’s rephrase. There are two women that have some serious explaining to do. The first is Eve. I’ve heard more than one friend of mine curse the day Eve ate the apple when they’re grappling with Aunt Flo. It can’t be denied that Eve’s inability to deny herself the apple caused some major issues for us all.
The second woman is the woman described in Proverbs 31. The “Virtuous Woman.” I’ve sat in more than one women’s bible study, informal gathering, or women’s conference during which women try to wrap their minds around this woman’s endless to-do list and skill set. Reactions range from eye rolls to pious proclamations that “anything is possible with God.” Inevitably, someone pointedly reminds the group that the Proverbs 31 woman had servants and of course she didn’t do all that’s listed at the same time.
My own response to this phenomenal woman hasn’t been much different. I’ve wondered what normal human has the energy to wake up before dawn and go to bed after everybody else goes to sleep, dress to the nines, raise children and run successful businesses to boot? Who was she the Wonder Woman of Israel?
How dare she basically be perfect at everything leaving us breathless and confused in our effort to emulate her seemingly impossible example?
I’ve asked myself these questions repeatedly during my life. Before I was married and had children, I saw this infamous chapter as a kind of study guide for how to be a godly wife and mother. I outlined specifically what she did and how she did it. I studied her attention to detail, her responsibility, the way she uses her words, how she takes care of herself, her husband, and her family. Oh, and of course I noted that she fears the Lord. I surmised that if I studied and acquired her attributes, my prince would arrive quickly and fall madly in love with me and my virtue. I too wanted a husband who was respected at the city gate and children who would rise up and call me blessed.
Well God did bless me with my prince, but it is only recently that I realized in my ‘studying’ for his arrival that I had it all wrong. My focus on her sewing ability, financial savvy, and business acumen was incorrect. Though these things are awesome, they are not at all what made her worth ‘far above rubies.’ Her greatest attribute, what made her such an invaluable asset to everyone around her, was her love and fear of the Lord.
I’m sure this isn’t news to you. It’s not really ‘news’ to me either. Obviously, we all know that we are nothing without God and that it is through Him that all blessings flow. But I think that the reason this chapter tends to get us so riled up lies in our improper focus on her schedule and not her relationship.
“Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30
This final verse of the chapter tells us exactly what our focus really should be when we study Proverbs 31. This ending declaration reminds us that all of the above skills, duties, and attributes are great, but it is her fear of the Lord that enables her and makes her special. Her most desirable feature- the characteristic from which all the other great ones stem-is her reverential and worshipful fear of God. It is her relationship with God that strengthens her for the tasks at hand. It is her pursuit of Him that gives her the grace to do all the things necessary to be the wife and mother God called her to be.
For years, I read anything I could get my hands on with the goal of becoming a good wife and mom. I labored trying to find tips on starting my own business, how to be more fashionable, to be fit, to discipline my babies. All that’s fine and necessary, but my deepest efforts need to be focused on loving and knowing God. My first priority needs to be spending time with Him, gleaning from the Holy Spirit and loving our God. God showed me that I’d been focusing on all the million things she does and forgetting about whom she seeks.
I challenge you and myself to refocus our attention on God and not our to-do lists and our own expectations.
Let’s extend ourselves some grace. Let’s put God first in our lives so that He can give us the grace to do all the many things we have to do in our daily lives as women. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says,
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ” (NIV)
Rather than reading Proverbs 31 in befuddlement and despair, let’s focus on the moral of the story. It is the love and pursuit of God that sustained and empowered the Proverbs 31 woman, not her skill set or knack for time management. This same love will sustain and empower you and I as we care for our children, finish school, or encourage our husbands. When we tap into Him, He then pours out the grace that will empower us to awaken early to pray even though we’ve been up all night with a sick child. When we seek Him, it is then that He guides us in how to get that promotion or start that business.
What ways can you make more time for God in your own life? Maybe it’s waking up a few minutes earlier so that you can pray. Maybe it’s taking the ten minutes before bed that you would normally scroll through Facebook to read a short devotional. Perhaps it’s listening to a sermon rather than binge-watching Netflix.
Share with other readers how you keep God first in your life on your quest to be a Proverbs 31 woman in the comments below! Let’s encourage each other!
About the Author
Ayesha Keller is a lover of Jesus, wife, and mother of two rambunctious boys. She is also an assistant social work professor, blogger and vlogger. You can read her blog here and visit her YouTube channel here.
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