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Industrious v. Lazy

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.(Proverbs 31:13)

“Back in the day” women had a lot of work to do, and they were trained from an early age to do it. I remember going to one of those “living history” museums as a kid and watching as wool was carded, spun into yarn, and then used to knit with or woven into a coarse fabric to sew into blankets or clothing. It was fascinating, but seemed like a lot of work when we can today buy balls of yarn or fabric by the bolt. The book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder details much of this same process. It was time-consuming, yes, but it must have immensely satisfying to see your family’s needs met by your own hands. Even now, there are women who are reclaiming this (not quite) lost art– right from the sheep.

But, this post isn’t entirely about spinning and weaving, or knitting and sewing. Many of us today do not have the skills neccessary, nor do we have to start with raw materials (although some do, and enjoy it). This verse speaks of industriousness and the willingness to work with our hands. It doesn’t specify whether it is for our family’s needs, or as a commodity to sell to others, just that we actively search out practical ways to serve others, and to do it with a willing heart.

I have 2 plastic totes with sewing stuff in them. Several projects I have all the needed materials for, and have had them for 3 years now– 3 dresses, 2 pairs of pj’s– fabric, patterns, notions– but have honestly been too lazy to do it. I can make excuses– big family, homeschooling, moving 3 times– but I’ve had plenty of time. I’ve just been lazy. “Industrious” is definitely not my middle name. Laziness trumps willingness almost every time for me.

So, what can I take away from this? If I’m to move from being my lazy Proverbs 32 self, to a more industrious Proverbs 31 woman, I’m going to need help doing it. It’s going to involve prayer and determination (although most lazy people are a little short in the determination area). I need to take another look at the Fruits of the Spirit, to remind myself what is already in me. And I’ll look at what my gifts are, and how they apply to industriousness.

Maybe… I’ll get those projects done after all!

Taking Sides- Good v. Evil

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:12)

Do I have my husband’s best interest at heart? Do I purpose to do that which will benefit him, or am I prone to getting even when I fell slighted? Do I have the attitude that my husband is there to help me, and not the other way around?

I don’t want to be one of those women who put down men in general, or her husband specifially. These days, woman get their knickers in a knot because of men who say nasty things about women, even things like “That’s just like a woman” … these same women think that it’s perfectly acceptable to sit around throwing barbs at men. It’s not. It’s mean, it’s insulting, and it doesn’t even come close to doing “good”. If we want to be treated with respect, dignity, and caring, we can do no less than model it ourselves.

Damaging our husband’s reputation before others, insulting him, being vindictive– it’s all evil. It’s sin.

We can have victory over this! It’s not easy. But we have access to Someone who can carry us along.

I want to do my husband good. That means I must purposely walk away from any action or attitude that “does him evil”– always. Purposely, because we can cause evil just by omission of good actions.

“…hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess. 5: 21b,22)

We need to care what image we are showing the world. People tend to jump to conclusions, don’t they? Don’t leave anything up to interpretation. Leave no question in your husband’s mind as to whose side you are on. Always.

Trustworthy and Reliable

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. (Proverbs 31:11)

I’ve been thinking on this verse all day. I’m having a hard time figuring out what “safely trusting” a wife has to do with needing spoil. The two don’t seem to have anything in common. I looked up in the dictionary “trust” (which was pretty straight forward- to have confidence in; also denotes reliability), and “spoil” (the booty or pillage of war or attack).

Taken separately, trust is an easy one. A virtue (or positive character trait) of a good woman is to be reliable. Trustworthy. Can my husband trust me with his heart, that I won’t trample it, break it, or otherwise mishandle it? If I were truly a Proverbs 31 woman, the answer would be a resounding “Yes!” Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I’d like to think that I’m reliable, and trustworthy, and sometimes I am, but not enough. A Proverbs 31 woman handles her husband’s heart with care, and I rarely remember this.

Or can he trust me with his whole being, about personal and private things? Do I go telling my girlfriends things about my husband they have no business knowing, and could cause him any degree of embarrassment? (Happily, I can answer “no” to this one)

As for the “spoil” part of this verse… In days of old, spoil was the booty plundered when one group attacked another group, through out-and-out war or a pillage-and-burn type of thing. It could include pretty much anything considered valuable– livestock, gold, people (as slaves, concubines, etc)– and there are lots of references to it in the Old Testament, especially the Israelites fighting the locals for a piece of the Promised Land. Unless specifically forbidden by the Lord, the Israelites would take what they wanted after they defeated the enemy (and sometimes, with dire results, even if they were forbidden). So, the question is, what would make a man have no need of these riches? And how can that be applied to modern living? I’m willing to take suggestions, because I just don’t see a connection.

So to recap: a Proverbs 31 woman is someone her husband can trust. She’s someone who is reliable. She isn’t a blabbermouth. A Proverbs 32 woman would be more likely to put her husband down, and to act in a way that her husband (and probably others) learns quickly not to trust her. Maybe even to hold back a part of his heart.

Who should we most desire to be like?

Valuable and Virtuous

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)

Virtuous, according to thesaurus.com, is synonymous with chaste, pure, worthy, honest, without reproach. It’s quite a long list, and filled with terms you’d see in Galatians 5 and Philippians 4– things that really ought to describe any Christian person.

A virtuous woman is valuable– and apparently rare.

A Proverbs 32 woman generally has self-image issues. Feeling of low or no worth, ordinary, dull.

I am a Child of God, a Daughter of the King of Kings. If you are saved (see “Gospel Basics” if you’re not sure), then you are too. We have virtue because Christ has virtue. Not only is a virtuous woman valuable– she was “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20)–but she would not “sell out” to the lowest bidder.

The low self-image is a lie we tell ourselves. In some cases it’s a lie someone else has told us. Either way, it’s a false view of worth, and essentially holds us in bondage. We need to see it for what it is, and start viewing our worth in terms of Christ’s. “Worthy is the Lamb” is the victory song throughout the book of Revelation. If He is worthy, so are we.

Researching

So, I’ve been starting to research my study here a bit. Read through Proverbs 31 (again), the Fruits of the Spirit (again… Galatian 5:22,23) as well as the tidy little list outlining what is NOT of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21). The woman in Proverbs 31 apparently had the Fruits nailed down in her life. I’m going to compare these soon– and I suspect that it will give me a great deal of hope, seeing as though we ought to already possess these qualities. I’m going to also have these listed in the section “Fruits & Nots” so as to be able to see them at a glance. You will eventually also see alternate references for as many of these as I come across.

Who is this Proverbs 32 woman, anyway?

Most of us are familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman– among her many virtues are her abilities to run a real estate business from home, to provide quality clothing and food for her family, and manage a fairly complex household all in a way that makes her husband well-respected in the community and her children to “arise and call her blessed.” Not so well-known is the Proverbs 32 woman– maybe because in the Bible there is no Proverbs 32. But that’s just a minor detail. Stick with me, here.

The Proverbs 31 woman is amazing. She’s Supermom, and apparently has it all and does it all– with a great attitude and unwavering faith. Sure, it’s good and right to desire virtue in our lives, and she’s a wonderful example. But what are we like in the meantime? That’s where I think the Proverbs 32 woman comes in. She’s that woman across town  who is struggling in her walk, pretty much everything the Proverbs 31 woman is not. She tries, and fails. She has peace and contentment– even joy– one day, and the next feels like her world is falling apart. She yells at her kids sometimes. Ok, maybe more often than sometimes. The house is a disaster. Sure, the family is fed, but there are days when her commitment to “whole foods” means the hotdogs aren’t cut up. And that husband of hers who sits at the gate? His motivation is primarily to be as far away as possible when she throws that frying pan… probably muttering how he’s sure she’s finally lost it. Neither he nor the kids are going to arise and call her blessed anytime soon.

Does this sound like you? It sounds like me. And I don’t want it to, so I’m going to explore how to change neighbourhoods, so to speak. I hope you’ll come with me.