This morning I read Proverbs 31. It’s kind of crazy, but I realized that I actually tend to avoid anything branded with “Proverbs 31.” A book that includes it in the title… I’ll pass. A blog named after it. No thank you. A radio broadcast with gooey encouragement about cleaning up Cheerios. Power off.
It’s certainly not because I am averse to disciplining my life after the model set before us in scripture. It’s not because I don’t desire to be like her. It’s not because I have anything against her pattern.
It’s because the term has become so misused and abused that it simply does not measure up to the God-given, Biblical standard we can read straight from His Word.
Not everything “Proverbs 31” is bad. There are a few blogs I read that bear the reference. For the most part though, that label of all-around womanly perfection is strewn across some of the most ridiculous places.
- Make-up tutorials for the Proverbs 31 woman.
- Tattoos proudly displaying the scriptures in places that should be covered.
- Self-proclaiming usernames: “Proverbs31girl” “ImaProverbs31woman” “Pro31wife”. (Disclaimer: I did not research these usernames and do not know if they even belong to anyone.)
- Book reading lists for the Proverbs 31 woman (which, by the way, why would such a list include pornographic romance novels?)
Unfortunately, the sappy nonsense that is so often branded “Proverbs 31” in the blogging, broadcasting and literature world is a cheap imitation. If anything, most of what is propagated under it defeats the entire message intended by it in scriptures.
The message I get about the Proverbs 31 woman from those sources is something like this:
Wife = Proverbs 31 woman
Mother = Proverbs 31 woman
Church-Going Woman = Proverbs 31 woman
Good cook = Proverbs 31 woman
Crafty = Proverbs 31 woman
Desire to be a Proverbs 31 woman = Proverbs 31 woman
Stay-At-Home Wife= SUPER Proverbs 31 woman
Stay-At-Home-HOMESCHOOLING-Mother = Proverbs 31 woman to be REVERED
Now, don’t get me wrong. All of those things are fantastic and I admire all the godly attributes and qualities of women that fit into those categories, but here’s my problem.
If you belong to any of the above categories, pat yourself on the back, because by the standards set forth in the majority of the blogs, books and broadcasts… you have attained.
Congratulation Proverbs 31 girl! You can wear the badge! Go ahead and change your username.
That is what makes me pass over things branded with “Proverbs 31.”
But you know what message I got about the Proverbs 31 woman from the Bible? You know… the source of the Proverbs 31 woman?
It’s a much different picture. Proverbs chapter 31 never says, “the woman that gets married, who has children, who never works and sits at home pilfering her time away on novels and television… she has an invaluable price!” It never says, “the woman who is so dependent on her husband that she never makes a penny and requires him to supply her with gifts and trinkets to be made happy, her price is far above rubies!” It never says, “Thou must be a stay-at-home wife even if you do have absolutely nothing to do all day, and if you read every book and blog on the topic, you shall be made a proverbs 31 woman.” It does not even come close to saying that just because you are a wife, a mother, a church-goer, a lady… that you indeed are a Proverbs 31 woman. It is not a badge to wear to make you look good.
The message I got from the Bible was a convicting picture.
A powerfully convicting picture.
It was the toe-squashing, high standard of God’s expectation for my life and I found it incredibly refreshing.
It was a picture of a woman that none of those other sources seem to depict accurately in their watered down mush.
It was a picture of a woman who provides for her home… a far cry from what many sources are telling us. They’re telling us the ultimate wife sits back and lets her husband do all the work because it’s ‘his job.’ It demonstrates our ‘dependence’ upon him as the man. But this woman… the real Proverbs 31 woman? She’s manufacturing, buying and selling, demonstrating financial savvy to the highest degrees. She’s making money and she’s making large purchases for investments. That doesn’t sound like the wife that does her chores and then retreats to novels and Facebook for the rest of the day, does it?
It was a picture of a woman who takes care of her appearance. She doesn’t throw her hair up in a messy pile, and wear a grungy jean skirt and hoody day after day.
It was a picture of a woman who works her tail off, thinks far ahead, and gives more to her husband in kindness and deeds than he even imagines.
It was a picture of a woman who requires little, but finds her own resources, and does not settle for mediocre. She produces the highest quality of everything.
She doesn’t waste anything, and her husband knows she will use every provision wisely… perhaps using it to a greater extent than he even considered.
She is diligent and makes good use of her time. She doesn’t sleep in until 10AM because she can, or dawdle through her chores, or linger longer than she should in leisure.
She takes care of herself, and manages her own health. She doesn’t neglect her health or indulge in unhealthy foods or activities that damage her body.
She is compassionate to others and finds ways to help those who are less fortunate than she. She doesn’t put her needs and desires in front of others. She doesn’t splurge on an expensive outfit when there is a need in the midst.
She decorates her home and makes it comfortable and inviting for her family and guests. It’s clean and well-managed and she is ready to be a proper host whenever the need arises. She doesn’t have to meet people on the porch because the house looks a fright!
She manages all the background details of her husband’s life for him so he is free to focus and concentrate on his own responsibilities and work. She helps him in every way she can, searching for burdens she can lift from his shoulders.
She manages her emotions. She doesn’t allow hormones to govern her attitudes and determine how she will act toward others. She keeps a reign on her demeanor and behaves herself with dignity and grace.
So… here’s the deal. Many of us fit into some of the categories that popular Christian culture will quickly and automatically label “Proverbs 31…” If you like the description of the woman, you can proudly wear the t-shirt that declares ‘hey, look at me! I’m a Proverbs 31 woman!’ I am amazing and I have attained! You can rejoice that you have met the watered down standards that pamper vanity and make you feel like you belong to some special class of women simply because you got married, stay-at-home and fix dinner.
I will be honest though.
I am not a Proverbs 31 woman.
I fall desperately short of the Biblical description of her and… if I am ever to be like her, I have a lot of work to do.
I decided that I am going to try something. Since so many changes can be pretty overwhelming all at once, this week I’m going to take one verse from the passage, print it out and put it on my fridge, and work on applying the principles conveyed in it.
Next week, I will add the next verse and apply the new principles with the previous weeks. I will keep doing this until the whole passage is on the fridge, in my heart, and applied firmly within my life.
Proverbs 31 is more than a pretty label to tack onto our image to make us look good. It’s a character we must embody, and strive after. It is the woman God expects us not to pretend to be or simply admire… It is the woman God expects us to be.
P.S. – Maybe I’ll share my “Journey through Proverbs 31 on the Fridge” as I go. 🙂
What experiences and lessons do you have in reference to Proverbs 31? Share them with us!