Continuing my study again on this passage, I got a little sad….more like convicted…while reading and meditating. Why? Well, this passage is talking mainly about hard work, diligence, convenience, and wisdom as it relates to the excellent wife, and to be perfectly honest, I am not always on my game like I should be. But nevertheless, I’ll share what I’ve learned and what I pray God matures me in.
“She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.” – Proverbs 31:13-14
Now, these verses speak to how the excellent wife goes about her work, her overall diligence in the things that she has to do, and I realized a couple of points from my reading.
#1: The excellent wife is not lazy, at all.
It’s sad that this has to be a point to emphasis here in the first place, but nevertheless, it is a point worth mentioning first. The excellent wife is not a lazy woman in the slightest sense of the word. She is an incredibly hard worker, and she does not fear having to do hard work. Personally, I know that most of my work happens on Fridays and Saturdays by virtue of the fact that I’m preparing for the next week, and we honor the Sabbath in our home. Although I know my general schedule, I admit, I always bemoan these days of the week because of how much I have to do. And depending on how well I plan and prepare things out, I get most of everything done, but other times, I am lazy and slow in getting my work done.
Yet, here is the standard of God for the excellent wife. The excellent wife is not lazy. She works diligently and even looks for additional work to be done. She may have a to-do list and get everything done, but once it is done, she is still diligently checking things again, watching over her home to ensure that there is no other work that needs to be done. Thus, you can also imply that the excellent wife is a wise steward over her time as well. She isn’t sleeping in all the time, letting her work pile up while she’s relaxing, but she is wise and diligent all the time.
#2: The excellent wife enjoys her work.
Naturally, I think this is hard sometimes…just being real. I mean, I enjoy cooking for my family, but scrubbing the tub and toilet is hardly enjoyable. And as much as I want to dismiss this point, my mind was drawn to another passage that also highlights this to all believers:
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:17
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. “ – Colossians 3:23-24
Now I listed both verses because by listing only the latter verse, one could claim that Paul was only talking about slaves in this passage. Yet, if you look back at the entire chapter, Paul was talking about the life that we are to live in Christ, the things that we are to be putting away from ourselves and the character of a believer in Christ. He then further breaks it down to members of the Christian home, yet everyone is admonished twice in this chapter to do all things as for the Lord. Thus, it is the same for the excellent wife.
If she keeps her heart and mind on Christ, pleasing him in all that she says and does (no matter how menial the task may seem), the excellent wife can truly delight in her work because it all serves God. She will enjoy all that she does because it serves a higher purpose – glorifying God.
#3: The excellent wife is not a woman of convenience, but of wisdom and shrewdness.
When you consider the merchant ships of old, you realize that the excellent wife is very good at what she does, though it does require hard work. Merchant ships would sail to different ports considering the merchandise that was available, compare prices, trade, barter, etc. to get the best deals before returning to the home port. Likewise, the excellent wife does a lot of leg work to acquire the best things at the best costs for her home.
I have a friend who asked for my husband and my help with her overall budget because she felt like she could do better. Now, she was single at the time, and when we reviewed her expenses, we found that she spent $600 a month on food and restaurants as a single person. Trust me, we were shocked, I mean completely floored. Honestly, I never thought that was possible, and it is an extreme example in this case. But there are many wives who simply go to the same store all the time to shop, because it’s convenient. There are many women who don’t realize that you can check the sale flyers for stores online before ever stepping foot in the store. There are even mobile apps available to help you compare prices and save money. Technically speaking, it is far easier for a wife to exercise wisdom when shopping for her home nowadays, then it was centuries ago. It just takes a little more effort and work to do it.
Thinking about shrewdness, the excellent wife is exceptionally sharp about the practical aspects of her home. I mean, you can consider all of the extreme couponing wives out there….that is being very shrewd in my book to get all of that stuff for so little. But if you’re not into spending hours a week couponing, you can do a lot by just paying attention to when stores market things, when prices are marked down, how the economy will affect the overall costs of things, and how to respond to all of these factors. I liken this to actually knowing the “economics” side of home economics.
Finally, like the merchant ships, excellent wives can work on having something to actually offer to others. I know some wives who currently make bread to sell to other people, or selling things produce from their gardens. My mom makes pies and cakes every holiday season to sell to people who don’t have the time to make their own. Basically, merchant ships didn’t go out empty-handed. Yes, there was always money to purchase things, but sometimes they would go out with goods to be able to trade and barter at other places. The excellent wife today can consider the skills that God has given her and be creative on ways to bring a profit to her home and family…all by the work of her hands.
All in all, the excellent wife is a busy lady, but a wise and shrewd lady at that. She’s a hard worker, but she’s a happy worker because she knows she is working to honor Christ in all that she does. Personally, I’ve found all of this to be a little daunting, but I’m glad for the conviction. I want God to grow me more into the image of Christ while being a wife. Likewise, I see here again that the entire body of Christ ought to be happily busy and invested in all of their work, knowing that their striving is all for the glory of God.