Have you ever tried so hard to make things great for your family that you ended up frustrated, bitter, and snapping at every one of them? You know, something like, “Go away and be quiet, can’t you see that I’m trying to be a good mother?” Did you feel guilty because you could not be the person you were trying to be? Great news! The world of being a wife and mother is no different that the world of everything else we do before God. We feel guilty because we are guilty, and we need Jesus to fix that. There is no “special section” of God’s word that does not require his grace to fulfill it in our lives. That includes Proverbs 31.
I’ve viewed many reader comments describing the various books published about the Proverbs 31 woman. Above all, my favorite is, “It read like a car repair manual.” Let us not forget that our number one priority is to be a disciple of Christ. If we read these verses as a “how-to” manual, we will always fail. Always. God’s ONLY repair instructions have always been to come into the fullness of his grace daily and let him perfect us.
The little bit of research I have done has indicated that Proverbs 31:10-31 was actually an acrostic poem that most Jewish women would memorize. It was a guide to Jewish men on finding a good wife. Well, what things in these verses could a man actually evaluate BEFORE he married the woman? I’m thinking he probably would not be looking at a woman who was already married with children, so he couldn’t observe all of these specific daily tasks. He could however, pay attention to the beginning verse where she is titled a “wife of noble character.” Could it be her character that is being described?
This passage describes a woman who “fears the Lord,” who “speaks with wisdom” and has “faithful instruction” on her tongue. She is a generous woman with a strong work ethic who does not get anxious about the future. A woman cannot possess all of these characteristics together apart from a daily walk with God. A great listing of the works that flow out of this character are also listed in this passage. It is a beautiful picture of what a husband will see in his wife when she fears the Lord and how beautiful she will look to him. (“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”)
Unfortunately, we tend to get this backwards most of the time. We say, “If you can do all of the things on this list, you will have become a wife of noble character.” If that wasn’t enough, we add a whole list of other requirements that we assume are included. After all, she is superwoman; If she works so hard, her house must be spotless and her family must be angelic. I’ve got an idea. Let’s not try to add to God’s word and make it better. I think he did a good job the first time.
Following is a list of the 10 verses not found in Proverbs 31:
1. Her coffee table never has dust on it.
2. Many have eaten off her kitchen floor.
3. Better Homes and Gardens just did a photo shoot in her living room.
4. She does all of the housework herself while the kids play Wii.
5. All of the words that flow from her children’s mouths are blessed.
6. All of her children are straight A students, musical geniuses, and all-star athletes.
7. Her hair is always fixed perfectly and her make-up is artfully applied.
8. She does not touch make-up or hairspray because it is vain and the art of Satan.
9. She never makes a bad decision.
10. She is classroom mom, PTO President, the bearer of orange slices at soccer games, and the church committee queen.
It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But you know that you have added at least a few of these things on your list. Remember Martha and Mary? Which one do you think had a list like this in her pocket? Drop the scrub brush and grab a Bible. Sit at Jesus’ feet and become a disciple. Let him give you his character, and you will have the one thing needed to carry out everything else.
Kelly Harbaugh is the creator of “Tabitha’s Team,” a blog for women who seek first to be disciples of Christ. www.tabithasteam.blogspot.com