Over the past few weeks I have been led to this passage which is widely known as the Proverbs 31 Woman (Proverbs 31: 10 – 31). I feel The Holy Spirit is teaching me or reminding me of what it means to be a virtuous woman. An experience today made me run back to this passage, reminding myself of who I am as a woman and a child of God. The great thing about being a Christian is that we are a new creation through Jesus death on the cross, our slate is wiped clean.
The Proverbs 31 woman is one that most women aspire to be; she is so exemplary, so virtuous, and so diligent to perform all her duties that women today, who have a heart to please God, may find it difficult or even discouraging to try to follow her example. How can we ever match up to this amazing and Godly woman?
I usually read this passage using the King James and NIV version of the bible but this time I felt I really need to find a more contemporary interpretation and perhaps then I can see some measure of myself in this woman. Eugene Petersen calls it ‘Hymn to a Good Wife’.
It reads as follows;
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colourful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises! (Proverbs 31:10-31)
And as I read this passage I began to see visions of my Grandmother, my Mother and my Aunt emerging from some of these verses.
Godly exemplary women of strength and character, eager to learn and pass on skills such as sewing and cooking; trusted and respected by their husbands and children. As a result I could also see glimpses of myself as I am one of those children who have inherited the legacy left by these great women.
I remember writing a reflection of my Aunt who died in Nigeria in 2008 which I read at her funeral, below is an excerpt;
“Her caring, kind, generous and loving spirit was unquestionable. Her actions to those around her spoke volumes of her benevolence and self-confidence. Mediocrity was never in her vocabulary. If you ever had the privilege to be graced with her presence you would come away, inspired to set higher standards and increase your goals.
Her immediate and extended family had maximum respect and adoration for her – In Jamaican parlance we would say “they had nuff respec’ to di bone for Aunt Daphne”. She was one of the persons I have emulated during my entire life.”
A remarkable woman who dared to seize a dream and was willing to pay any price to make it come true. Personal happiness eludes her, the realization of her grand dreams for her family, is her all: her heart, her soul, her life.
Determined to rise above all that she has ever known, a young woman from Jamaica embarked on a journey first of survival, and then of unimaginable achievement. Driven to succeed, this iron-willed, woman of strength and good business sense becomes a triumphant and unforgettable woman…
But even if some of us look to Hollywood for the present generation of `star makers’, you can also be inspired by casting your gaze at this remarkable Jamaican-Nigerian woman, Daphne Lyn Okoronkwo. She too was a ‘star maker’ in her own unique way!”
The verse that speaks volumes about my Mom apart from shopping around for the best yarn, making her own clothing and dressing us in the best; I can’t even begin to mention her cooking; her tenacity; getting up early to provide for her household;
“She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.”
My Mom was full of surprises. I remember us as children waiting each night for my Mom to return from work as she always bring a surprise. And even on her trips abroad she never fails to do the same for her brothers and sisters.
I cannot begin to tell you about my Grandmother as she is the woman that greatly influences my faith in God. The verse that describe her down to a tee;
“She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.”
Growing up in the country in Jamaica, I was accustomed to hearing people asking Aunty Granny for fruit and provisions from our back garden. She never grew tire of giving to anyone in need or saying ‘Yes’ to whoever ask for help. I know, as I was the one who was adventurous enough to climb the tree and pick the fruit 🙂
As I reflected upon these great women, I began to see myself. We may not measure up to every attribute of the Proverbs 31 woman…in fact we all fall far short. Phil 3: 12-14 states;
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We have not attained to Christ level of perfection, and yet our aim is to press towards the mark and pattern that God has given us, and even though we come short and often fail, yet God’s standard is before our eyes and clearly in His word; though we may fall short, we never want to lower God’s standard.
Phil. 3 also reminds us not to put confidence in the flesh but In Christ. And that’s what the Proverbs 31 woman is all about! Who can find a virtuous woman?
“The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.”
In memory of my Grandmother. my Mom and my Aunt, great women who have deposited so much in our lives. For Ijoema, Nnenna, Vicky, Me, Bev, Patsy, Chioma and all the other women in the Galloway/Okoronkwo family. May the peace of Christ be with you always 🙂