God's virtuous Woman - A study of Proverbs 31 by Nancy Rowley
Help for women from the pastor's wife
THE PREACHER'S WIFE
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30
This is a study on Proverbs 31 - Lessons on "God's Virtuous Woman". It was given over the years in several Baptist churches, and was always deemed a great help by those involved. The links can be selected at random, but will be of
the most benefit when viewed in order. May God use these studies to be a blessing to you.
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BRIEF TESTIMONY OF MY LIFE BEFORE AND AFTER SALVATION
The key word throughout Proverbs is wisdom--
WISDOM'S definition from Webster's 1828 dictionary:
A. WORLDLY WISDOM
In the book of Proverbs a "wise man" is one who:
So... to know wisdom indicates the ability to draw judgment in moral and spiritual matters and to discern spiritual issues. (look up all the verses on wisdom in Proverbs) We want to look at the woman described in Proverbs 31 to observe her character (her
quality, pattern of behavior, moral strength, and self discipline; her distinguishing traits) and to develop these character qualities in our own daily lives.
His Plan For Me
When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ
And His plan I begin to see,
The plan for my life as it might have been
Had He had His way with me.
Will I see how I slowed Him and blocked His way
And would not yield my will?
And will there be grief in my Saviour's eyes,
Grief, tho He loves me still?
He would have me be rich,
But I chose to stay poor.
He wanted to bless,
And I kept closing the door.
Will my memory run like a hunted fawn,
Down paths that I cannot retrace?
Will I remember things I should have done
As I gaze on His precious face?
Then will my trembling heart well nigh break
With tears that must be shed,
I'll cover my face with my empty hands
As I bow my uncrowned head.
Lord, of the years that are left to me
I give them into Thy hand.
Take me, and break me, and mold me to fit
In the pattern that You had planned.
September 8, 1986
DEFINITIONS FROM THE 1828 DICTIONARY OF WORDS MENTIONED IN PROVERBS
prudent- careful about one's conduct; using good judgment or common sense in handling practical matters, wise, intelligent, frugal
froward- stubbornly contrary and disobedient
contentious- quarrelsome, perverse, given to angry debate
perverse- disposed to contradict and oppose
ignominy- disgraceful action
brawling- to argue noisily, quarreling
whorish- lewd, unchaste, addicted to unlawful sexual pleasures
gracious- marked by kindness and warm courtesy- of a compassionate or merciful nature, excellent, becoming
foolish- lacking good sense or judgment, silly-unwise, weak in intellect
odious- to hate- arousing hatred or extreme dislike
chaste- denotes purity, pure from all unlawful commerce of sexes; undefiled, if married, true to the marriage bed
virtuous- goodness, righteous, pure- a conforming to standards of what is right and just and to approved codes of behavior; goodness implies inherent qualities of kindness, benevolence, and generosity
moral- relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined.
wisdom- true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. If you want to acquire it, it is the knowledge and use of what is best, most just, most proper, most conductive to prosperity or happiness.
An article written by Daniel Sheard in Israel, My Glory, March-May/1988, entitled "Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman?" gives God's picture of Wisdom. He writes: Men, I am sorry. God did not personify wisdom by applauding the virtues of a man. This is not to say that
He could not; God can do anything. But He did so by picturing wisdom through the finest qualities of womanhood, and there is something uniquely appropriate in this analogy. The Book of Proverbs praises the supreme value of an excellent wife by alluding to her as wisdom itself, a priceless gem.
"Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies: (Prov. 31:10; cp. Prov. 3:15, 8:3). God did not conclude this, the most famous book on wisdom ever written, with a platitude that is difficult to grasp. He gave a flesh and blood picture of true excellence and did so by
describing the ideal wife.
Definition of Virtuousness: goodness, righteous, purity. A conforming to standards of what is right and just and to approved codes of behavior; goodness implies inherent qualities of kindness, benevolence, and generosity.
In the book, Me? Obey Him? pg 12-21 by Elizabeth Hanford Rice we read, " If the Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself, submitted to the authority of the Father, it is no shame or dishonor for a woman to be under authority. A woman is subject to her husband, but she can
still go directly to God to ask anything she needs or desires and get it as quickly as if she were a man. God hears the prayers of a godly woman as quickly as he hears the prayers of a godly man." I Cor. 11:7-12 says...You are a representation of your husband. During the time when I was so depressed, I
would go to church and look like the unhappiest person there. I didn't want to be there. I felt no good. Then one day when my husband was preaching, he made the statement that a woman is a representation of her husband. If she looks down, sad, mad, angry, happy, you name it, it is a reflection on her husband.
That sentence jumped out at me. I knew that my husband loved me, he was good to me, and here I was telling all the world what a miserable husband I had. It was enough to bring me out of my present condition. God made the man to be the achiever, the doer, to provide for the home and protect it, to be high
priest and intercessor for the home. God made the woman to be keeper of the home, to make a haven within its walls, a retreat from the stress of battle, the nourisher of the children. Make your home a haven. About 13 yrs. into the ministry my husband had to take on a job. He had a horrible boss and had a
stressful day, everyday. He would step inside the door of the house, sit down, and say, "Oh how wonderful to be home. Peace and contentment." Does your husband feel that way. Or is your home a place of turmoil and discontentment? What kind of a home do you make for your family?
1. Is my garment too tight- does it draw attention to the wrong areas? What about the weight of the material, is it too thin?
Strive to be God's woman. In no other book in the Bible besides Proverbs do we find so many references to loose women and grim warnings against any association with them. Of 28 references to "woman" in Proverbs, 19 of those references are bad. Women in this day and age are sacrificing their femininity and nobility and are striving to be more like men. Let's be Christian women who want to keep ourselves unspotted from the world and glorify God by our lives. We cannot reach that goal of excellence without the Lord Jesus Christ and the strength he offers. We must know Christ personally to draw upon this strength. Only then can we work towards the goal of being God's virtuous woman. Sharon Rhoades says in her book, Pattern From Proverbs 31, A virtuous woman is a complete, happy, fulfilled woman when she has the characteristics of the Proverbs lady. She is the personification of all the virutes and strengths of character demonstrated throughout the book of Proverbs. She is definitely a pattern to follow.
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A woman who loves God in a righteous way expressing warmth and true affection is a desirable wife. She will develop these characteristics as found in Galatians 5:22,23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
The following material was taken from an article by Melanie Graeber entitled, WHAT I WOULD TELL A YOUNG WIFE published in "Joyful Woman" March/April 1988.
1. In order for a marriage to survive it has to based on divine love. Human love, based on emotions, is nice, but it isn't enough to weather the storms a marriage endures over the years. Human love could fail. By allowing the Holy Spirit to control you, you can love your husband with the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13. This love is longsuffering, kind, and totally void of envy and selfishness.
2. Realize that God's love is sacrificial. The world looks upon love as something you receive. God, however, looks upon it as something you give. John 3:16 tells me that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Real love gave and kept on giving, regardless of what it received in return. This love was an action based upon a commitment that said, "I will love you for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Regardless of how you feel about me, I will love you." The most important lesson to learn is forgiveness. It is the key that will keep your heart open to love. Learn to take Ephesians 4:32 to heart and live in that verse every day of your married life-- to be kind to your husband, tenderhearted, forgiving him, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. To refuse to forgive, regardless of the offense, is to kill the love and allow bitterness to take root in your heart. Find out that the more you forgive, and the higher the price of that forgiveness, the deeper your love will grow. When you think of what it cost Christ to forgive you, somehow the price of forgiving your husband seems small in comparison.
3. Good marriages just don't happen. They take work. Prov. 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Just as you need to work on your relationship with the Lord each day in order to keep it growing, you have to work on the marriage relationship as well. You need to do things that will make it grow and keep the love alive.
4. God ordained marriage in the first place. It is His desire that your marriage becomes all He intended it to be. If you live your life according to His Word and based on your relationship on His principles, God will honor you for it.
Simply stated, a goal to be trustworthy might be expressed like this: "By God's grace, I purpose to do and be everything--large or small-- that I am counted upon to do and be." We know that every good gift is from God, but one of the best and rarest gifts of all is a prudent wife. (Prov. 19:14) House and riches [are] the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife [is] from the LORD. Definition of prudent: wise, judicious, wisely cautious in practical affairs, sagacious, (quick of thought) discreet, circumspect, using care and caution and good judgment as well as wisdom in looking ahead.
A man is indeed blessed if he can trust his wife to be honest, discreet, free from covetousness, and dependable in her domain. Being the woman her husband can trust is one of the jobs of "wifing". It requires constant effort, but it reaps great rewards in appreciation and love. A man needs to be able to trust his wife to be dependable in her domain. To be dependable in the area of her domestic responsibilities requires discipline and diligence, the ability to follow a set of priorities, and genuine concern for the comfort and welfare of the family. It seems that more and more women are more interested in acquiring things for themselves than the welfare of the family. Daycares packed with little children are the result of this goal of women. God help these poor children who are constantly shifted from one babysitter, to another, to daycare. They've already got two strikes against them before they hardly get started out in the world.
She is honest. Honesty with one's self, with God, and with all those whose lives our lives touch, is essential and basic to trustworthiness. It is hardest to be honest with ourselves. It is not easy to cultivate a heart of meticulous honesty. We must recognize the need for it, and have the desire, and then ask God to give us "an honest and good heart." We must be willing to scrutinize carefully all our attitudes and actions to determine if we are being honest--with ourselves, with God, and with others. It's a temptaion to try to make ourselves look better when telling something. Whether it be one more than what actually was done, or an inch longer than we did, or a little bigger than it really was. The natural thing for us to do is to push it a little. Guard yourselves against this. Purpose in your heart to be honest in every word and deed. Set a good example for those children.
Discreet- Her husband should be able to share confidences with her in the comfortable assurance that he can safely trust her "faithful spirit" to conceal these matters. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Proverbs 11:13) A discreet spirit is especially needful in the wife of a church officer. Ladies, guard your mouth. I learned the hard way. A moral wrong was done in our church at one point and circumstances dictated that we keep it simple. I made just a passing statement to a friend of mine who in turn put some other things together and it revealed the incident and I was put in a horrible position. I learned immediately the importance of a closed mouth. Don't get caught in the trap. I took a verse and quoted it every time I had the impulse to gossip. Yes, gossip. The verse had the words, Psalms 141:3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. It helped me gain a victory. We need to be one who can be trusted to keep confidences. It is an invaluable help to the husband. Another thing you need to be is a sincerely interested listener. When you listen to someone, give them your full attention. Don't be thinking ahead of what you're going to say. You can always tell when someone isn't really giving you their full attention. Don't be more interested in what you can say, but rather what you can hear. The combination of sincere interest and trustworthiness is vital.
A man should be able to trust his wife to be free from covetousness. Picture a wife who is never content with what her husband can give her and constantly lets him know how inadequately he provides. She is like the one in Ecc. 5:10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this [is] also vanity. The person greedy of gain can only bring trouble to his household, but "Godliness with contentment is great gain" I Tim. 6:6. Contentment is not that I have what I want, but that I want what I have.
Finally, a man needs to be able to trust his wife to be dependable in her domain. To be dependable in the area of her domestic responsibilities requires discipline and diligence, the ability to follow a set of priorities, and a genuine concern for the comfort and
welfare of the family.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:21-25). To many women, the idea of submission sounds degrading. There are both practical and theological reasons behind the concept of submission. First, there is creation. Adam was created first, Eve came second and she was the help. Second, there is the Fall. Eve was deceived, Adam was not. Because of this, Adam was to rule over Eve. Gen. 3:16 Another reason for following the Biblical principles for headship is because it works! To be submissive to her husband does not mean a wife gives up her right to think or to be an individual or become less of a person. The key to submission is that the Bible tells a wife to be submissive; therefore she must do it. Setting boundaries for your children allows them to feel secure in knowing what they can and can't do. It's the same when we submit to God's authority, you will feel secure. Before she is willing to be subject to her husband, she must be willing to be submissive to the Lord. A wife is doing her husband the greatest good when she allows him to be head of the home. Submission is defined as "yielding, surrendering, giving way to." Jesus Christ is our example of perfect submission and total dependence on God. SUBMISSION IS AN ATTITUDE BEFORE IT IS AN ACT. To submit to God is more than to simply obey. It is to abide in Him, to rest in Him, to lean on Him, to trust Him, to adhere to Him, and to abandon oneself to Him. This is submission-- complete confidence that God's plan for us is the very best thing that could happen to us.
Be careful about those whom God has put in authority over you. Again, watch your attitude. Faultfinders and backbiters will soon be found outside the service of God. Are you a trouble maker in church? Do you find fault with how things are run? Do you rebel in your own way against the authority established? Do you realize that your rebellion will cause someone else to rebel? Do you give a particular situation to God and let him deal with it? The same goes for the home. Do you criticize your husband in front of the children? Don't do it. You are teaching them to do the same thing when they grow up. They'll start in the home. I can't ever remember my mother criticizing my father in front of us. If they had a disagreement, we never knew about it. Learn to voice your concern alone with your husband. Teach your children to respect their dad, build him up, not cut him down. The greatest tool for when something is done that you may not like and you want to rise up and rebel, is prayer. It works. Commit something to God and let him do the rest. Do right-- even if you don't like something-- but beware your attitude-- remember submission is an attitude before it is an act. Again, your attitude will rub off on your children and next thing you know, they'll be acting the same way. Have you ever watched a little girl play doll and some of the things she says and does. Quite revealing!!
When recognizing and repenting of rebellion against God-appointed authority, attitudes will change. Submission is an attitude of the heart. It is a willingness to obey God. The highest respect anyone can give God is to obey Him. When you do this, you will find that coming into an attitude of submission produces freedom. Women are expected to live in a manner that is above reproach so dishonor and criticism will not be brought on the Word of God. When one is loyal to Christ in daily living and obedient through submission to those in authority, no one will suffer because of a lack of faithfulness. Be sure to teach your children respect for God-given authority.
WAYS TO HELP YOUR PASTOR AND THOSE IN AUTHORITY IN YOUR CHURCH
Prayer: "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, O, for grace to trust Him more."
This lesson describes the Proverbs lady as a woman who is not only the wife of a man of rank, but a wise, useful, and godly matron in her domestic responsibilities. It is a woman professing godliness, adorned "with good works" (I Timothy 2:10).
The following is a sketch of a very lazy woman taken from A Woman That Feareth the Lord by Emalyn Spencer:
"She loves to sleep! Too bad that sometimes this habit keeps her from going to the grocery store when she should, or cooking a good meal for her family (20: 13). She doesn't work very hard in her house, but spends much time talking on the telephone-her family is deprived of care and comfort due to her neglect (14:23). She has good intentions, but something always prevents her from carrying them out. For instance, today she was going to clean out some closets, but there was a lion in the street (26:13). She might make some cookies, but then she would just have to go to the trouble of eating them (26:15). O, well, a little nap would be nice, and as she drops off to sleep she thinks of all the things she wishes she had, and can't understand why she never has anything (13:4). O, the bed is so comfortable-she is fastened to it as a door is to its hinges (26:14). When she finally does rouse from sleep she occupies herself with vain pursuits, such as TV soap operas or trashy reading material (28:19). She gets dressed, goes to the store and hunts up a roast. But when she gets home it's too late to cook it (12:27), so she serves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for supper. She is a sore trial and a great irritation to those who depend on her (10:26). She makes such slow progress in anything she does that it's as though she were making her way through a thick hedge of thorns (15: 19). What a wasteful way of life! (18:9). When will she wake up to reality (6:9)? Friends, in love, have tried to help her (27:6; Gal. 6:1) and reason with her about the foolishness of her ways. But nobody can tell her anything-she is smarter than all of them put together (26:16; 26:12). Actually, she is so lacking in wisdom that the lowly any could be her teacher (6:6-11)."
This may seem a little to the extreme, but it does help to teach two great object lessons on diligence and slothfulness in the book of Proverbs. The lesson of the ant (Proverbs 6:6-11; 30:24) and the field of the slothful (24:30-34). The sluggard is instructed to go to the ant, consider her ways and be wise, which implies that he is lacking in wisdom. It is explicitly stated that the slothful owner of the field is a person without understanding. anyone who ignores the warnings, instructions, and commandments of God is foolish.
It is evident that the Proverbs woman is dedicated to the welfare of her household. God does not unreasonably expect more from us that he has given us the ability and strength to do. Verse 13 says she "worketh willingly with her hands". Working willingly is a mental attitude. It is being pleased with housework, having a desire to do it and taking delight in doing it-- all for the purpose of glorifying God. No one expects a woman to like everything she has to do-- dusting, ironing, washing the dishes, matching socks, (I sometimes think the washing machine eats socks the way they turn up missing.) picking up toys. However, God does expect Christian women to do these things willingly as unto him. When you do these things with a willing spirit, your example will be an reflection on your children; their approach to life. This will carry over into their walk with the Lord and how they will respond when he tells them to do something. I like the verse in Colossians 3.17 which says "and whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord, Jesus giving thanks to God and the Father by him." Let's look at some areas of our lives in which this might hold true.
Taken from the book Beautiful for Thee, Sword of the Lord.
I. Three Kinds of Values
Sarah: God needed help with the promised son- Her faith became weak. God sure was taking a long time with this promised son and she thought He could use some help. Boy, what a mess we have today because of that mistake. Genesis 16:1-2
Orpah: She would rather be with her pagan family then start over in a new country and new opportunities. Ruth 1:14-15
Sapphira: Sold land and gave money, but she was not concerned about pleasing God but impressing people. Lied. Acts 5:7-10
Martha: She was cumbered about with much service rather than hearing what the Lord had to say. Luke 10:40. I have to be careful in this area. We find ourselves so busy doing what we think is service for the Lord that we forget to sit and hear what he has to say to us.
Had Eternal Values:
Ruth: She gave up home and family for something better. God blessed her with a child in the line of Jesus. Ruth 4:13, 17-22
Hannah: She gave up joys of motherhood and lent her boy to the Lord. God blessed her for it. I Samuel 1:26-28 My daughter lives in Washington state-1200 miles away. I don't get to see our granddaughter very much. People say to me, "How do you stand it?" I stand it because I would rather have them 1200 miles away serving the Lord than living next door breaking my heart. Maybe that's how it was for Hannah.
Queen Esther: She could have stayed quiet about being a Jew, but she put her life on the line for her people. Obtained favor of the king. God blessed her also. Esther 4:13-17; 9.
I. Values cannot be chosen on the basis of what other people think
Maybe you can see already that you are in trouble in this area of priorities. If so, start at the top and begin to organize your life as it should be. Concentrate on the relationship with the Lord. Begin to love your husband as you should. Accept him exactly as he is today and learn not to focus on his faults. Praise him. Support what he says and does. Even if he is wrong, he is to be right in your eyes. If he is right in your eyes, you'll teach your children to love and support their dad no matter what. Give him room to make mistakes without your chiding, reproof, or a triumphant, "I told you so."
In verse 15 it says "she riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens." The Proverbs woman shuns slothfulness. None of us wants to admit to being slothful, but most of us succumb to the temptation to be lazy at times, and especially if laziness is wearing one of its disguises such as these:
Procrastination - Characterized by hundreds of good intentions, but always gets put off. Rationalization - Talking ourselves out of doing hard things.
We can easily get in the habit of staying in bed until the last possible moment. For some, it's hard to take when you hear of an early riser who delights in getting up with the sun. The Bible gives many examples of early risers. The following are a few of them:
Abraham- rose early to stand before the Lord- Gen. 19:27
Be careful about boredom. There are some things you can do so as not to fall prey to it.
The Proverbs woman has free rein to buy and sell. Her husband has complete confidence in her. She is not an impulse buyer. A good rule of thumb that we used to use with our kids was to make them wait a week when they wanted to buy something. If at the end of that week they still wanted it, then we would consider letting them get it. (This was using their money). Before you buy something, take into consideration all the facts concerned with that purchase. Make sure it won't be a hardship on the rest of the family.
The Proverbs woman used a spinning wheel in her day. We don't have to do that today, but there are many other time-consuming jobs that we do need to work on. Teaching and training our children in the ways of the Lord. I am a firm believer in home schooling. I see the school system out there as the lion's den just waiting to consume our children. Don't forget that you only have approximately 18 years with your children. Then they are out in the world starting to establish lives of their own. Do your best. Church work is also a time consuming job. Do it well. Keep your priorities right. Work on friendships. So few people today have any real friends. I thank God for the friends he has given me and especially for the one or two that have stuck with me through thick or thin. They have helped me through rough times and I have been able to do the same for them. However, the most demanding, with the greatest rewards, is that of working on the marriage. The marriage is "till death do us part." Children and friends may come and go, but your mate is for a lifetime. Your marriage deserves prime time and effort. One day the children will be gone. If you haven't worked at keeping a closeness with your husband, all of a sudden, you'll be living with a man you don't know.
Should you work?
You need to know God's will about this. Philippians 2:13 says "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." So, first, is it God's will for you to work? Your most important job is your home, your husband and your children. Verse 11 says "the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her." This means that our home, our family must be most important. When we are considering God's will about working, we need to find out, can we have our priorities right? If you are married, have children, and your husband is able to work, then I believe it is your responsibility to stay in the home and take care of the children. God wants you to raise those children, not the daycare center or the baby sitter. There have been times when we couldn't make ends meet. I could have gone out and worked, but I have children still in the home and my job was here. When we needed things, we got down on our knees in the living room and asked God to supply. He met the need and taught our children faith by learning to trust God instead of "mom". Now I know this is rough for some ladies to take. It is something we have stood very firm on over the years, and God hasn't failed us. When we got married, my husband and decided that when I had children, then I wouldn't work anymore. That's exactly what we did too! The longer we're in the ministry, the more we see the pitfalls of a woman working and the conflict it causes in the home. The following are some negative and some positive views of working outside the home.
1. A working woman tends to get her eyes off the Lord and on the world. They have earnings rather than eternity in mind.
2. When they have children, it is hard to give yourself fully to your employer when the children were left upset or sick. Sometimes you have to leave work early because of sickness.
3. It's easy to develop an unhealthy relationship with other men on the job.
4. There is constant emotional and physical stress under which she must live.
5. Sometimes a working mother can be a threat to her husband's confidence.
6. Spiritual life can become anemic.
7. You tend to hear "his" money and "her" money. If I make it, why shouldn't I spend it the way I want to?
8. It causes a woman to get her fulfillment on the job instead of the home. This is bad, in that it tears down a relationship between the husband and wife instead of building it up. My security is in the Lord, but also built around my husband too.
If you don't have a husband and are a single parent, then having to work is necessary most of the time. If you don't have children, then sometimes the wife chooses to work. In those cases, I can say there are some good points.
1. It helps some women to be more organized because they know what is required of them for each day.
2. They make the children be more responsible for helping out in the home, because they are not able to do it all. (I knew one single mom who had to work and her children did an excellent job of helping out in the home with the cooking and cleaning.) It helps to make for a feeling of family unity.
3. It helps to develop compassion and understanding for others. It helps to be more understanding of what the husband has to face every day.
If you, as a single mom or a lady with no children, do choose to work outside the home you need to be careful that you schedule your time so that you can do your work well on the job. Be loving, gracious wives to your husbands; train your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; keep a clean house; serve the Lord faithfully in all areas of your responsibility; and in general be all God wants you to be. This is a big order, but we serve a living and true God who is able to help us do all things "through Christ which strengtheneth me." Phil. 4:13. No matter whether we work outside the home or in the home, be sure that the time you give your children and husband is quality time, not so much quantity time. I learned this when I had Amy as a baby and it was 6 years since I had had Matthew. I learned that my time with her was more important than whether the house was in the greatest of shape, the dishes done, or the toys picked up. Give them five minutes when they want to show you something and it will be of much more value than if you try to put then off and then get irritable because they keep wanting your attention. The issue of working is difficult. Each woman and her family must face it alone. Circumstances, personalities and compulsions must be prayerfully considered. God has a perfect plan for each woman who seeks it.
Psalms 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Mother is a woman
Mother is a woman
Mother is a woman
The aura of loveliness that surrounds a godly woman is due in part to an attractive physical exterior. Real beauty originates inside us; we can only enhance what is already present by attention to our physical appearance. Surface beauty is vain and has no real importance or lasting value. Prov. 31:30 says, Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. The opposite is found in I Peter 3:3,4 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, No amount of attention to details of dress can compensate for lack of inner grace. We all know that inner grace starts with the day a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,.
In our Proverbs study of the virtuous woman let's observe some areas of physical concern: health, appearance.
HEALTH- Nearly all women desire to be pretty and attractive. Most worry about any possible threat to their health or outward beauty. There are those, however, who are too lazy to make any improvements in this area or even maintain what there is to start with.
We have all been to school and know the general rules for good health. We know that a proper diet, adequate rest, along with exercise and cleanliness are essential to the best interest of our body's health. Many illnesses are caused or aggravated by our own foolishness or neglect. Commitment and discipline are required to establish the habits necessary to maintain good health. The Proverb's woman puts her whole soul into her work as she girds her loins with strength- she is ready to do any work suitable to her. She realizes she must be healthy in order to perform all the strenuous duties she does competently. Therefore, she watches her diet and gets plenty of good exercise. The Proverb's woman didn't have physical fitness classes or exercising devices. She walked many miles a day seeking material needed to make her fabrics, she tended her fields; and buying the food for her household required a trip to the merchant's ship. You can't function to your full capacity if you don't take care of your body. To have this kind of physical strength, women must keep their bodies in good physical condition- inside and out. Vitality catches the eye, lethargy repels the eye. To be attractive, a woman must look alive, feel alive and act alive-- for life attracts life.
VITALITY-ENTHUSIASM FOR LIFE
What about the physical condition? You've probably tried crash diets and failed. These failures discourage you and cause you to hate yourself and despair. The devil is delighted to watch this happen. He doesn't want you to take care of your body. We need to remember that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 6:19,20. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. You are not your own. You don't do what you think is right; you do what God wants because your body belongs to God. He bought and paid for you with His own precious blood. We are borrowing these bodies for awhile, and God expects us to take care of them. He has even given us the Holy Spirit to live inside our bodies. How important it is to take care of the body we are borrowing from Him! Eating right and not eating at the wrong times are as important in caring for our bodies as other matters such as not smoking, drinking, or not walking in front of fast moving cars. Anything that jeopardizes the length of our lives or threatens to hurt our bodies ought to be a concern to us.
The following are verses to use when you are waging a battle of self-control and resisting temptations:
A good balanced diet is very important to inward and outward beauty. Remember, everything that goes inside shows on the outside- and not necessarily in weight only. Our body is a trust from God. Consider what Psalms 139:14 has to say to us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is just a reminder of our responsibility for the well-being of this exquisitely complex machine we call our body.
APPEARANCE- A Christian woman's appearance should be a credit to the Lord at all times, and her dress should be suitable to her position in life. It is possible to pay too little, as well as too much attention to this area of our lives. A Christian woman should be lovely inwardly and outwardly. Too many times a lady can be lovely outwardly, but repulsive by that which comes from the inside. As the saying goes, "What you eat is what you are" so, what you eat spiritually is what you are. Ephesians 4: 17-32 is an excellent passage about the heart and what really goes on in peoples lives in the area of spiritual health. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Let's guard our hearts from the craftiness of the devil. He will deceive you into thinking you are beautiful when in fact, you are not because of the wickedness of your heart. Inner beauty enhances outer beauty. The key to real beauty is a balance between the inward and the outward. I Sam. 16:7 for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. If a woman possesses the virtuous inner qualities that come from God, man will see the shinning reflection of God in her.
We should all give some time and thought to determine if we are inclined either to the extreme of being too much or too little concerned with our clothing. A pleasing appearance does not depend so much on how much we spend, but on how we spend it, and then on good grooming. No matter how attractive our clothing, or how well-groomed we are, we can lose the testimony of a pleasing appearance by posture that is unattractive and communicates carelessness, indifference, discouragement, or lack of confidence. Walking straight and confidently helps people feel like you can handle the situation. Practice walking with a book on your head, stand with your stomach tucked in. Don't put your nose in the air, it looks snobbish, but don't look downward either as it relays to others sadness and helplessness. If you're tall, don't slouch, it will only ruin your appearance. Shorter people tend to walk too fast to be feminine. If you have problems in this area, work on them.
Be careful when you sit down. Make sure you are properly covered and nothing private is revealed. I've seen many women who don't know how to sit properly. My mother taught us girls at a young age to always check ourselves when we sat down. Two girls in our church in Chicago had a buddy system where they kept tabs on each other. Every once in a while I would catch them "high-signing" one another about something. Practice graceful habits and learn to do them properly and with ease. Looking at some areas concerning outward beauty-
1. clean skin
The clothing you wear can affect how you feel. Little girls like to "dress up" in mommy's clothes because her dresses make them feel "pretty". There is a description in the Bible of a bride adorned for her husband. It adds a sense of importance to the lasting and far reaching consequences of that day. It's a special, very important time. As Christians, we have a responsibility to the world to bring honor to Christ in all we do. Carelessness about our person is no credit to Him; it is often an indication of laziness. An unkempt appearance can be a distraction or even an offense to others. To be neat and clean and well-dressed is one way we can be "teachers of good things" Titus 2:3 by our example. This is also an indication of faithfulness in all things I Tim. 3:11. We are ambassadors for Christ, and as his special messengers we must use every means to represent Him well. We have a duty to reflect the glory and beauty of God.
SPIRITUAL CLOTHING-There is a reference to spiritual clothing in verse 25- strength and honor. Our physical life demands on three things: to breathe, to eat, to exercise. These three things are also necessary to the spiritual life. To have spiritual strength, a Christian must read the Bible daily. There are many Christians who are defeated and live weak lives because they do not feed on the word of God. Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. It is necessary to read the Bible every day just as it is necessary to eat every day.
Exercise is a must to keep us physically strong. If one does not use the muscles of the body, they will soon degenerate. All of our body needs to be exercised in some way every day. The same is true with the Christian. What exercise is to the body, living for Jesus is to the spiritual life. Others should see by a woman's actions Christ living in her. The physical life requires three things: breathe (comes natural), eat (daily), exercise (use of body). The spiritual life also has these same needs. Prayer (should come naturally) read Bible (spiritual food daily), and exercise of his Word ( live for the Lord).
This completes the picture of a godly woman who is faithful in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical. Strength of soul results, as does strength of body, from exercise and proper nutrition. We exercise our souls in prayer and in sacrificial service to others; we feed spiritually on God's word; and as in the physical sphere, this system of order in exercise and diet must be of quantity and quality suitable to produce spiritual hardiness. A disciplined plan of daily Bible reading and prayer are needed for spiritual health. Stay in God's word, fellowship with other saints, preaching, teaching, are all things that will help maintain proper spiritual health.
Last, but not least, Prov. 31:23 tells us that the way a married woman looks, dresses, and acts can affect how other people feel about her husband. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. The idea is that because of his wife, the husband has risen to a place of prominence in the city. Prov. 12:4 A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. A husband who has a wife who lives a chaste life, will show results in his work. A man needs a spiritually- minded wife who is able and willing to work with him. This is the kind of wife every Christian woman should strive to be. Because she is a good homemaker, her husband can go to work without worrying and is able to fulfill his obligations. Behind every successful man is a diligent woman. One of the most important areas of his life is his responsibility to the Lord. In some areas of Christian service, it is almost impossible for the man to function as he should without a spiritually-minded wife who is able to willingly work with him. Titus 2:4,5 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. As a pastor's wife, it is vitally important that I back my husband in prayer and encouragement. How I dress, talk, look and act play a vital part in his success as a pastor.
Others will be able to see in the virtuous woman an inner strength; the ability to handle changes due to circumstances which easily shatter and bring ruin to a household that is not built on a strong foundation. We have been in the ministry for over 24 years. Over those years we
have gone through some things that have made me wonder what God was doing. I knew during those times that I could trust God. He's never failed me and never will. I trust him! I used to say that I'm afraid to "quit" the ministry because I knew I'd be more miserable doing what I thought I'd like to do
than doing what God wanted me to do. There is comfort and security in God's will. The virtuous woman will have a godly image and is consistent in her thoughts and actions. She has a proper mental outlook through trials and in disappointments. This strength comes from inside. She is able to incorporate by
faith the promises of God in her life because she has hidden them in her heart.
Character in no way attacks femininity- it enhances it. Strength of character comes from waiting on the Lord through daily communication with Him. Isaiah 40:28-31 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Femininity is a woman's crowning glory in her attitude of honor, self-control, virtue, chastity, purity, a clean heart, sweetness, a gentle quiet spirit, and modesty.
She shall rejoice in time to come. Verse 25 refers to the future. She and her family are prepared for the future no matter what happens. Give your children back to the Lord. He is able to take better care of them than you ever could. When we worry and fret, we think we could do a better job of handling a situation than the Lord. Don't you think the keeper of your soul can take care of your children? Prov. 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. If we diligently seek to direct our children in the way they should go, teaching them the principles found in the word of God, then when they go out into the world we can rely on the word of God and prayer to keep them. Encourage them to get in the Bible on their own; develop their own time of devotions. Don't expect your young child to learn to read their Bible on their own. You need to remind them and encourage them to read it. After awhile they will desire to do it on their own. When they go out into the world, they are going to need a strong foundation built on biblical principles. Trust God with their future. I know of mothers who are scared to death to even think about letting their children go. They want them right beside them all the time. One mother I know is afraid to even let the girl go to Bible school. She wants complete control over her. There's no trust. Trust your children. We started out giving our children full trust. My husband told them that we would trust them and if they broke that trust, then they would have to earn it. Our children have not broken that trust. One is now married and a mother herself, the other boy is a Marine. Still trusted by his parents. It gave them confidence knowing that mom and dad trusted them. Some parents have said to me that they can't trust their kids because they know how they were at that age. Your job is to train them. You may have not had that training, so don't expect your kids to be like you. Give them what you didn't get. It's then that we have to trust God to keep them. Don't worry. Again read Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I came across an excellent book just a little over 2 years ago that is probably the best I've read on the subject. I have given out many of them since, to young and old alike. It is To Train up a Child by Mike and Debi Pearl. It will change your family and children's lives. (Address given at end of study.)
We all have many fears about the future, but let's not get our eyes off the souls of men who are dying and on their way to Hell. I used to lay awake at night thinking about all the "what if's" about my children. I would work myself into such a frenzy and cry over things that have never taken place. The Lord has helped me to -Proverbs 3:5,6- trust in Him and lean not to my own understanding. I need to remember that he is the one directing my path. I know the future looks pretty bleak, so we need to train and teach them while we can: Another reason why I am a strong advocate of home schooling. I need every minute I can get to prepare them for the onslaught of the devil out there in the world. There is so much against our children. Let's do all we can to fill them with the word of God and what's right.
What are your fears? If you have fears, they are not from God. Satan does his best to defeat and discourage Christians. Satan finds each woman's individual panic button and pushes as hard as he can. When he finds your fear, he will use it to damage your mental health,
confidence, outward appearance, and victorious Christian living. Phil 4:8; James 3:17 are some ways to find out if a thought is from the Lord.
If it is from the devil, it is probably: a lie- even a little white one a deception- the truth twisted very cleverly a destructive suggestion that will hurt.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.
I'll close with my favorite verse Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Try saying the verse emphasizing one word at a time. You'll be amazed how much more is in the verse than you thought.
This proverbs woman takes the time to check out her work and is careful to consider that her motivation is right, that she does her work all for the glory and honor of God and not out of selfishness. She makes sure that she knows her operations, understands what is going on, and observes her merchandise.
She runs her business on a balanced budget. We sure can't say that much for our government, can we? She gets good things, yet is careful not to buy something that would be a financial burden on the family. It would be better to make do or go without. She has learned how to make things with little or no value into something useful and of value.
Be careful ladies, that you do your work and duties as unto the Lord. I Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Don't be wasteful with the material possessions the Lord has given you. How you take care of the things that God has given you indicates what kind of a steward you are. A "steward" is a man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents, or income, keep the accounts. See Gen.15:2; 43:19 As children of God, Christians are his agents and part of their calling lies in the management of his property.
Christians stewards must realize that they live, move, and have their being in Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 6:19-20 The whole of the Christian's life- personality, time, talent, influence, material substance, everything- must be dedicated to Christ. He is our perfect example. Romans 14:12 says: So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Phil. 2:5-9 says Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. Christ in His stewardship demonstrated his perfection by making himself of no reputation by taking upon himself the form of a servant- he humbled himself. What an example Christ was to us in this way; the Son of God. We also see in John 6:38 that the supreme purpose of Christ life was to do the will of the Father. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. What is the supreme purpose of your life? Let's look at some areas of stewardship in our lives.
STEWARDSHIP OF A WOMAN'S BODY
STEWARDSHIP OF A WOMAN'S TIME Who controls your day- the time you have given to you for 24 hours? How do you spend these hours? Do you live them victoriously, having sweet fellowship with the Lord, or do you let the devil squander them away? You alone are the steward of your time. Avoid time wasters! I had a lady in our church who loved to have me go with her to do things. At first I would go, and then I realized that my time with her was adding up to 3 and 4 hours. Time I could have been doing something else. I graciously turned down time with her after that. She became a time waster. Not that what we did was wrong, I could just use the time in a better way. Be careful of situations like this.
Perhaps one of the hardest things to define is time. A well-known preacher once said, "The older I get the more I realize that perhaps the greatest gift I could give you is time. Actually, the only gift I can give you is my time. If I give you money, I give you the time it
took me to earn that money. If I give you a gift, I give you the time it took me to earn the money with which I bought the gift. Perhaps, then it is true that time is the only thing that I can really give to you."
STEWARDSHIP OF A WOMAN'S TALENTS AND GIFTS Just as the body has many parts and each is needed by the other, so the body of Christ has many parts and God has given each of us different abilities that are helpful in the function of his body. Every Christian possess both natural and spiritual gifts. All of us have some kind of natural gift (abilities or talents). Flower arranging, sewing, drawing, cooking, entertaining, musical. Colossians 3:17 says, And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him. Use your gifts for the Lord. Use them to be a blessing to someone else. Look around for some way that you can use your gift.
Christians also have a spiritual gift that God has given to them by the Holy Spirit when they got saved. These gifts enable Christians to minister to others in behalf of Jesus Christ. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. I Peter 4:10 tells us to use our gift to minister to other people. What is your spiritual gift? How can you use it to minister to others? Pray and ask God to show you first of all what it might be and then ask him to give you a way to be able to use it. Eight or nine years into the ministry, God gave me an older lady who I always thought of as a spiritual mom. She is one of the most gracious ladies I know. She has the gift of hospitality. You can come to her house at any time, and she was just the kindest hostess. I learned a lot from her example to me. She never thought of herself as I perceived her. Sometimes it takes someone pointing out to us a particular gift for us to even realize it. I don't like to put too much emphasis on this area, but I do feel that God has given us something that we can do to be an encouragement to others. If he impresses on your heart someone, then call them or send them a card, do something. I sent a card to someone one time just because the Lord laid them on my heart. This girl wrote back and told me she was so low that day and wondered if God really loved her. When my card came in the mail, it was just the thing she needed to bring her out of her despondency. Never ignore the leading of the Lord. It may be you the Lord is going to use to help someone along the way. I am amazed at how I've helped someone or done something that had unbelievable results. 20 years down the road, I'll have someone come up to me and tell of an incident that changed their life just because of something I did. And it really wasn't that much. Just something that showed someone else that you cared. I find that the small deeds have a much greater impact on lives than you'll ever realize.
STEWARDSHIP OF A WOMAN'S POSSESSIONS Prov. 3:9 Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. Malachi 3:8-10 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Yes, they have in tithes and offerings.
What is a tithe? Heb.7:2 says Abraham gave a tenth. But that is only a good place to begin. That is the least amount. How much would you be willing to trust God with?. My dad taught me at an early age to give what's God's first and he'll take care of the rest of your needs. We
were a large family and we were very poor, but when I look back on my life growing up, I don't remember the poverty, I remember the good times I had as a child, that mom and dad loved me, I loved going to church, and at an early age, I loved the Lord very much. Mom and Dad gave me that. We didn't grow up with
lots of material possessions, but we were rich beyond compare with God's blessings in another realm. That's how it is with my life now. We've been through some pretty tight times, but we've never gone hungry, we've always paid the bills on time, we've always had a car that worked well, we've always been
clothed adequately Just because we've never had thousands of dollars (let alone hundreds) in the bank doesn't mean we're not rich. I marvel at God's goodness to us and sometimes I become so overwhelmed with it, that I can't contain the feeling of joy that comes from within my soul. My oldest girl is an
associate pastor's wife married to a great man. She loves the Lord so much and wants to live for him. They have a little girl who's a joy to our hearts. Our son-in-law loves God, believes the Bible is the word of God, is a good husband, and a great father. Our son is a Corporal in the Marines. He loves the
Lord, goes to church and does what he can to help. He witnesses to those other military guys around him. He's not ashamed of the Lord. My older girl here at home loves God so much and it glows on her face. She's not ashamed to witness. She uses her talents for God that he's given her in the area of music. The
youngest daughter wants to be a missionary to New Guinea when she finishes school. How can anyone not see the goodness of God. We've always loved to give. We started at 10% and went on from there. He has given back to us more than we could ever fathom. Not in material possessions so much, but in his goodness
to us with our children and the lives that he's allowed us to minister too. When we went to Bible school, I always heard, "You can't out give God." I can say a hardy "Amen" to that.
Money can be a means of exchange for the necessities of life, or it can be one's master, controlling the life. It is often a major cause in quarrels between couples. Some of the reasons for this is lack of training in how to spend money, easy credit, excessive spending for bigger and better.
WISE WAYS TO END MONEY WORRIES- Taken from notes during a Gothard Seminar
6. Get Saleable Skills vs. Independence
8. Learn to Abound and Suffer Need
9. Report How Gifts Met Specific Needs-
HOW TO NEGOTIATE A PURCHASE
A woman can see that God really cares about her as an individual. He is concerned about how she uses her tongue, her heart-condition, her mind, body, gifts, and possessions. He has given her all these things. It saddens God's heart when she belittles herself complaining that she
has no talent, that she is not creative, intelligent, or pretty. God made each woman the way she is and when she puts herself down, she is insulting God. She needs to accept her abilities and limitations as God's design for her. She has been created in his image. The light of a woman's life shines out to
others as they see her and the world can tell if she is being a good steward of her time and talents. Matt. 5:16 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
This verse shows us that the virtuous woman doesn't wait for the poor and needy to come to her, but she goes to them. This verse illustrates an important aspect of her life. She is generous, merciful, and sensitive to the needs of others; a willing and cheerful giver of her wealth as well as of her time, thoughtfulness, and strength. She is never too busy with her own affairs to go to the aid of others.
Welfare programs and food stamps were not necessary in Bible times because people cared for and helped to meet the needs of each other. Proverbs 31:11,12 shows how she does good to her husband. Verses 15,21, and 27, are expressive of the good she does for her whole household, and vs. 20 shows her concern for the needs of the community. What a pattern of good works! Here we could find no better example of a person with a true servant's heart; one who is no "respecter of persons", but makes herself available whenever and wherever the need is.
We should also make ourselves available to the poor and needy. All of us have the responsibility, the means, and the opportunity to give and serve, no matter what our limitations may be. Sometimes we put off doing that good thing we know we ought to do in hopes that we might get out of it altogether. (Deut. 15:11) If we stop our ears to the cry of the poor, we can anticipate a time when we ourselves shall cry out for help but none will hear. (Prov. 21:13) God has freely given to us so we need to freely give ourselves. Matt 10:8b If we sew bountifully, we shall also reap bountifully. IICor. 9:6 If you have pity on the poor, then Prov. 19:17 says that he lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again. As a woman grows in thankfulness of what God has done in her life through Jesus Christ at Calvary, she will long to do His will and serve and please Him in every way she can. Every Christian woman has a definite place in serving.
Jesus is the Supreme example of a perfect servant. Mark 10:45 says that he came to minister and give his life a ransom for many. The more a woman yields her life to the Holy Spirit, the more love she will have for God; resulting in a growth of love and service. Following are some different kinds of giving:
PROPORTIONATE GIVING- What one gives in proportion to what one has is more important than the actual amount given.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Many persons would give great amounts of money for peace of mind, if such could be purchased. This peace of mind is described by an absence of guilt, fear, and envy, and is found in Christians who have learned to trust God. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour then we have "peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Once we come into this relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is possible for us to have peace with ourselves and with our fellow man. God has bestowed his perfect love upon us so that we might be free from the kind of fear that has torment. (I John 4:18) He desires for us to have this peace, knowing our well-being depends upon it.
Fear provokes all of us on various occasions. It is a good and necessary emotion. Emotions cause us to be stirred up, which in turn allows us to deal with alarming situations. On the other hand, chronic fear that ranges from small or vague uneasiness to a full-fledged anxiety attack, is harmful and can produce actual physical illness. We had a man once who had anxiety attacks all the time. He was so bad that he couldn't even stay through a whole church service. He envied people who were able to just sit and enjoy the whole service. He came to my husband wanting some help. My husband started him out memorizing scripture. He told him to come back the next week with the first chapter of Philippians memorized. He did. He gave him the second chapter for the next week and continued on until he had memorized the whole book. Then he didn't stop there. He told him to meditate on it so that it became of part of his being. Whenever he would start to have an attack of anxiety then to quote scripture. He did what I talked about earlier, engrafted the word. It worked. This man became one of our best Sunday School teachers. He has absolutely no problems with anxiety anymore. Not because he paid thousands of dollars to see a shrink, but because he let the Word cleanse him and heal him of his fear.
We fear losing those things that contribute and strengthen our safety, comfort, or well-being, such as health, jobs, status, material possessions, and loved ones. These are our security blankets and any real or imagined threat to them will rob us of our peace of mind. This miserable kind of fear is a result of failing to trust God. You've forgot to take him at his word. Are you remembering to claim the promises. We are able to obtain this peace by adhering to conditions laid down in the Word of God. Prov. 3:1-2 peace is promised to the obedient Psalms 2512-13 if we fear God we are promised his guidance and peace of soul Prov. 29:25 fear of man bringeth a snare, but trust in God assures safety
Careful and thorough planning will eliminate much needless worry and anxiety. The Proverbs woman is busy planning for the future and taking care of her household for today. She doesn't have time to think about those things in the past. Like Paul, she forgets those things which are behind. She has too many things to do which take time and effort, energy and diligence. Why should she fall prey to the devil plaguing her with thoughts of past mistakes. She doesn't need to fear the future because she has made provision by diligently taking heed to her household and family. "She is not afraid of the snow..." She has been faithful in providing for the needs of her household. In providing for the needs of your home and children don't succumb to the temptation to over-do everything. Prov. 30:15: "There are three things that are never satisfied, yea four things say not, It is enough." There is one thing that is never satisfied and that is a covetous and greedy heart. Beware! Several Proverbs remind us that quiet and simple living, with the fear of God and his righteousness, is much better than great treasure with trouble and strife. (Prov. 15:16,17; 17:1; 16:8; 21:9; 28:6)
Looking diligently to the ways of her household means not only in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual arena. One of the most important responsibilities you have is to make sure your children know Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour.
2Cor. 12:14 Consider the results if we don't pray for them,
"Like a River Glorious" --Francis Havergal
Every joy and trial falleth from above,
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest;
Seek God's guidance daily in your life as you serve Him. Ask Him to help you to be prepared for any situation that may arise in your life.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
What is God's wisdom? James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Prov. 9:10 says the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. James 1:5 tells us where we can find wisdom. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Wisdom is called by Solomon the "principle thing,".
There is no bitter envying, jealousy or strife in the heart of the Proverbs woman. James 3:14,15 She is discreet and firm, yet very kind. Others seek her counsel and advice, they confide in her because they know she doesn't gossip. Gossip - what everyone criticizes, but all like to hear - the only time people don't like gossip is when it's about them
It seems that the more a person knows, the less he says. (Prov. 17:27) Sometimes the best way we can open our mouths with wisdom is to keep them shut. It has been said that "wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk."
We can practice testing the thoughts we want to express to determine if they are worth saying. We can put them to the test of soundness, accuracy, kindness, wholesomeness. Are they gracious, sincere, edifying, clear, interesting? One evidence of wisdom is restraint of the tongue. When you are reading through Proverbs on a daily basis, mark down all the times there is a reference to the words mouth, lips, tongue, tail bearer. Quite a list, it bears reading over and taking to heart!!
The first member of the body to be under the Holy Spirit's control after you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior is the tongue. James 3:8 says "but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Our lesson today states that "in her tongue is the law of kindness". The Proverbs woman has pureness of heart and thus her tongue delights to utter words of grace and truth in steadfast love. It would exclude cutting remarks, nasty retorts, biting sarcasm, vindictive accusations, idle rumors, spicy gossip, woeful lamentations, grumbling, griping, fault-finding, back-biting, and whining. Ephesians 4:29 "Let not corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
The greatest problem in life is the pain we cause to others. The largest amount is caused unintentionally. Selfishness, ignorance, stupidity, thoughtlessness, course witticism, and a thousand other things are the means of wounding and hurting feelings, stinging pride, dampening enthusiasm, and quenching the effort of fellow men and women. Guard what you say to your children, they remember long into adulthood what may have been said in a sudden burst of anger.
It has been said that people possess what they confess. If someone constantly has negative thoughts and talks about depression and sickness, they either possess those things or those things possess them. Proverbs 23:7 says "for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:"
The Bible teaches that words carry everlasting consequences. Be careful when sharing prayer burdens that it doesn't develop into gossip. Spiritual discernment must be used in this area. Again, guard what you say to and around your children. Some parents talk about anything and everything around their children. Use some common sense and guard what you say. Children don't need to hear all the things that adults talk about and especially concerning things that really shouldn't be said about other people. Do you always have to know what is going on in everyone's life. Do you strive to be the first to know everything. Prov. 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. Sometimes we are so taken with what's wrong with others that we neglect to clean up the garbage in our own backyard.
Christians need to minister to each other by loving, encouraging and praying for one another. Instead of criticizing the spots and wrinkles, Christians should smooth out the wrinkles and remove the spots whenever and wherever they can. The kind of woman God wants is one whose words refresh and are a blessing to others. She should have a gracious and positive attitude that uplifts and encourages others. Criticism has it's part in our lives, but be careful when you do it and make sure it's right.
"she looketh well to the ways of her household." She continually watches with a keen eye the direction her family is headed. She notices the habits, actions and speech of her children. She exercises firm but loving discipline over each child and offers encouragement to each when it is needed. It means knowing where each family member is, who he is with, how he is progressing in school or at his job, and what his hopes and dreams are. Make sure you know your children so well that when they have sudden change, you can sense that something is amiss. It means taking time to listen to each one in your household, letting them know you love them. Take time to listen to what you children have to say. You may not agree with them, but it nurtures an openness between the parent and child. When our children were younger, we would have Friday as "Family Conference". Our children were allowed to voice complaints or injustices where they felt had been wronged. This was allowed as long as they remained respectful to us as parents as well as the other brother and sisters. This time together worked very well. It taught our children to talk about a problem rather than keep it inside where the devil can make a mountain out of a molehill. It also showed us as parents that sometimes we over react in situations and when we realized that, it showed our children we weren't afraid to admit wrong and ask for forgiveness. Doing this doesn't belittle yourself to the children, but gives them more respect for you. Parents who are never wrong will create a big wall between themselves and the children and they'll be afraid to come to you for fear of being put down. To this day, my older daughter talks about the fairness of her dad and how it developed such a trust and closeness with him. She said because of that, being a preacher's daughter didn't have the pressures on her as she sees in preachers homes today. Now that my daughter is a mother, the blessing have been pouring in of the things we did. Don't get discouraged. It's all worth it. When your children get older, you'll hear a lot more feed-back from them and appreciation for your training based on the word of God. Also, make sure you have fun with your kids. It's part of their lives they'll never forget. I remember so much of the fun times in my home. Much of that time was when we were doing work. We could even turn work into laughter.
You need to know where each member of your household is in his relationship to the Lord. You can do this by conversation, but also by observation. As I said before, I feel it's your business to know where your child is in their walk with the Lord. Encourage him. Talk to them about the Lord. Pray with them.
It is necessary for a woman to be prudent as she keeps a watch over her life so she may live a life that is pleasing unto the Lord. To avoid the snares of the world, we must watch our
W -words (Matt.12:36) idle words
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Kathryn Ann Porter wrote this quote, "Love must be learned and learned and learned. There is no end to it. Hate needs no instruction but waits only to be provoked." Love is learned again and again and again, but it comes as we look to the source of love-- the God of Heaven who said in His Word, "God is love."
The English word "love" has to be one of the most unusual words in our language. It's supposedly packed with meaning, yet it seems inadequate when we really want to say something. The word really is overworked. Some dictionaries have as many as 25 different meanings for love, and it is possible to use them all throughout one day of our lives. Let's narrow down our meanings and look at five different aspects of love that pertain to marriage. It will help us to see what love-life in marriage and the home should be when expressed fully in your relationship.
Strong Physical Desire- a strong desire of any kind, sometimes good, sometimes bad. It means to set the heart on; long for, rightfully or otherwise; or it can mean to covet. When used in the Bible in a negative way, it is called lust. When used in a productive way it is called desire and this is the meaning we are referring to. In marriage, husband and wife should have a strong physical desire for each other that expresses itself in pleasurable sexual lovemaking. Sex is not the most important aspect of your relationship, but is an indicator of the health of your marriage. If tension shows up in other areas of your life, it will usually affect your sex life. On the other hand though, if you have no sexual closeness, the total relationship could be affected. The aspect of love known as physical desire should never be ignored in marriage.
Romantic Yearning- this love conveys the idea of romance. It is not always sensual, but it does include the desire to unite with and possess the beloved. It is romantic, passionate, and sentimental. It is often the starting point for marriage. The kind that poets use, songwriters write about. The big problem with this kind of love is that it is changeable and cannot last a lifetime all by itself. There are two kinds of this love. One is infatuation which is an emotional and fleshly response to false impressions that cause us to lust. The other, genuine love is a spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical response to the actual character and total being of another who represents attributes long sought and admired. This kind of love appears as a sure response when all the other loves of marriage are set in motion. It will transform a ho-hum marriage into one full of delight and pleasure.
Comfortable Belonging- This would be a type of love that is comprised of natural affection and a sense of belonging to each other. This is the kind of love shared by parents and children, or brothers and sisters. This love in marriage meets the need we all have to belong, to be part of a close-knit circle where people care and give the utmost loyalty to each other. When the world comes on as a cold, hard place, this is the kind of love we take refuge in. If this love is not evident in a marriage, it is like a house without a roof, where the rains can pour in. When it is present, it is a place of security where the other loves can safely dwell and flourish.
Tender Sharing- This is a love of relationship--comradeship, sharing, communication, friendship. This love makes friends who enjoy closeness and companionship. Love that shares thoughts, feelings, attitudes, plans and dreams--intimate things they would express to no one else. This love will eventually lead to biblical response and fellowship around God's word. A marriage without this love will be unsatisfactory, but with it will be interesting and rewarding.
Unselfish Giving- A love that takes us from the physical to the spiritual. This is the totally unselfish love that has the capacity to give and keep on giving without expecting in return. This love serves. The previous loves all have enjoyment where in contrast, this love caused Christ to come to earth, as a man, on our behalf. God loves all mankind with this love. This aspect of love can be used to save a marriage that has lost its love. This is the only love that you can bring into your marriage immediately, because it is exercised as a choice of your will and has no dependence on feelings. It is love in action, not emotion. It centers on what you do and say rather than how you feel. If your marriage possess this kind of love, it can survive anything. This kind of love is so important and works because it comes from an eternal source of God alone. It can go on operating when every other kind of love fails. Not only that, it loves no matter what. No matter how unlovable the other person may be, this love keeps on flowing. It is as unconditional as God's love for us. It is a mental attitude based on a deliberate choice of the will. You can choose right now to begin to love your mate with this love no matter how much indifference you may face.
It is an exciting fact that when you enter into a marriage designed by God with your love for each other reflecting Christ's love like a mirror for all to see, you also are entering into a personal ministry that will be a witness to others. A husband and wife who have learned to love each other in the ways we have described can minister to a couple in need with great effectiveness. Based on the word of God, a couple has available to him the capacity to love each other with an absorbing spiritual, emotional, and physical attraction that continues to grow throughout their lifetime together.
Based on this information, we can see where the Proverbs woman led a consistent life as wife and mother. It is easy for her husband and children to love, honor, respect, and praise her. She expresses constant love and care for her children. She makes time for her husband so they can develop their relationship.
The two love chapters in the Bible are I John 4, and I Corinthians 13. These chapters give us some wisdom concerning what God has to say about the subject of love. We see in verse 7 that God expects Christians to love one another because love is of God. If you don't love, you
don't know God. Verse 11 admonishes Christians to love one another because God so loved us. Then in verse 19 it says that "We love him because he first loved us." This love should cause us to love our brother also. Verse 21.
How can love be expressed? Love can be expressed in kindness to others. It shows who we are. If we only have nice things to do and say for people from whom we want something, our love is selfish and we will become known for it. If we love because we love the Lord and want to love others as He would have us to do, we would be happier and others around us would be too.
1. OURSELVES- Don't criticize yourself. I know too many people have a high and mighty opinion of themselves. On the other hand, some have such a low opinion, they feel they are worthless. Not so. We are God's creation and workmanship. Who are we to belittle what God has so wonderfully made. Realize "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil 2:13 and Phil 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" This verse has been the verse I use a lot. There was a time in my life when I felt I wasn't capable of being used by God because I was so worthless. It was when I realized that because of Jesus Christ, I became of value and he wanted to use me to glorify himself.
2. THE FAMILY CIRCLE- Your husband needs kind words from you. They mean more to him coming from you than anyone else. When he fails, be kind. Children need kind consideration and love everyday too. Always be kind to family members at home and in front of people. Never embarrass or belittle them in front of others. Only by pride cometh contention. Proverbs 13:10 Our pride sure gets us into a lot of trouble, doesn't it?
3. REGULAR CONTACTS- Teachers, friends, the preacher and others we associate with often could use notes of thanks and expressions of appreciation. So many times God has laid someone on my heart to pray for, give a call, or send a note or card. Respond to God's prompting. Only heaven will reveal the results of your responding.
4. STRANGERS- If someone needs help, help them. Use wisdom. If a child is crying for Mother in the store, don't just stare like everyone else, be kind and help. You may not know the waitress in the restaurant, but you can be kind even if she takes too long and spills something. I find that people are just waiting for a kind word from someone. Why shouldn't we as children of the King reach out in this way. It could lead to a soul getting saved.
5. UNLOVABLE PEOPLE- Unkind, unfriendly, or unusual people can sometimes be changed around completely because you show them some love. When someone does wrong to us, let's not sit around waiting for an apology. Be kind to them and show them love. Forgive them. When we were first married, I worked as a waitress with a lady that was such a crabby person. She didn't have anything good to say about anything. I would come home so distraught sometimes and my husband would feel my frustrations coming back on him, if only just to talk and get it out of my system. Then I decided to try to reverse the situation by being kind to her no matter what. At times, I thought I would never make any head-way with her, but it did pay off. I worked for six months and by the end of that time, she had become a very good friend. She didn't get saved when I was there, but I know a testimony was left behind when I left. Be careful about your attitudes towards those who have wronged you. Maybe we don't think they deserve forgiveness, but we didn't deserve God's forgiveness for our sins either. Maybe they don't deserve to get a nice gift from us as an expression of our love and forgiveness, but we don't deserve Heaven either. I was having a very hard time with a lady once and to soften my spirit towards her, I would give her a little gift once a week. It didn't have to be much of anything, but just something that made me take time to think of something I could do for her. I never told her the gifts were coming from me. It was something I did for myself, not so much her. Our relationship may not have been a close one, but it did give me the right heart attitude towards her.
"And be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32 How this verse brings back a battle I had. A lady in our church had lots of emotional problems. She would call at every hour of the day and always my husband would go where ever she was to try to help her. She tried suicide on several occasions. (This was in the early years of the ministry before my husband realized aspects in counseling that you just didn't do. Believe me, he would never do now, what he did then! ) Once she called when I had just gotten home from having a baby. My husband left to help her. Another time was at our son's birthday party. At one point, she told my husband that she was in love with him. I never doubted my husband. It was the woman I didn't trust. This went on and on for quite some time. I developed such an anger towards her that I couldn't stand the sight of her. The Lord would convict me of my feelings, and I would in my heart tell the Lord that I forgave her, but just as soon as she would do something, all the feelings would come back immediately. I battled and battled this till a time when we were having revival meetings. I can't tell you what the message was about, but when he got done, I knew that God had shown me without a doubt, my sin. I was one bitter woman towards this lady. The Lord used these verses to convict me. Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. The time had come when I had to go to her and ask her to forgive me for the sins of my heart. I hated this lady and needed to get it dealt with in the right way. I went to her that night after church and told her how I had bitterness and anger, and wrath towards her. I asked her to forgive me, not knowing what she would say. She said, "Of course" in a flippant way. She may not have understood the seriousness of my asking forgiveness, but it gave me a light heart. I knew I had done what God had told me to do. It was what I needed to rid my heart of its sin. When this lady would do things again after that, none of the old feelings came back. I learned to pray for her. She had done me much hurt, but I had allowed it to fester and become bitterness. That was my sin, not hers. About ten years later, I received a letter from her wanting forgiveness for all the things she had done to me. She listed them. I thought she wasn't aware of my hurt, but she was. God gave me that forgiveness as a bonus ten years after I had made right my own heart. I wrote her back and told her I never had any ill feelings towards her since I had met with her that day at church about my sin. I only wanted God's best for her and her family.
Love for God will be demonstrated by the place His commandments occupy in the Christian's life. It is necessary to study the Bible to learn what God's commandments are. John 14:12 says that if we believe on him, then the works that Jesus Christ does should be what we do also. And then later on in verse 15 it says that if we love him we will keep his commandments.
God made people to love and be loved. To love is to really live, to experience the deepest kind of soul satisfaction. God's love is not based on our performance. He loves unconditionally.
The Proverbs woman is able to excel because of her spiritual and practical devotion to God which invades every area and relationship of her life. II Peter 1:5-7 shows that if our foundation is built on the word of God, then we can add to it faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. As virtue is exercised, knowledge will grow. As knowledge is used to show us what to do in particular situations, temperance will be increased. Temperance or moderation will produce patience. Many people become discouraged and impatient, but learning to trust in God and being patient will show forth godliness in a Christian's life. Godliness gives God the proper place in our lives and will be exercised in brotherly kindness, which produces charity.
The Proverb lady is a pattern to follow in learning to show forth love and to accept love from others. Her testimony to her family and friends is that she excels.
APPLICATION OF TODAY'S LESSON
I WILL ...like Paul, forget those things which are behind and press forward.
I WILL...like David, lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.
I WILL...like Abraham, trust implicitly in my God.
I WILL...like Enoch, walk in daily fellowship with my Heavenly Father.
I WILL...like Jehoshophat, prepare my heart to seek God.
I WILL...like Moses, choose rather to suffer than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
I WILL...like Daniel, commune with my God at all times.
I WILL...like Job, be patient under all circumstances.
I WILL...like Gideon, stand firm, even though my friends be few.
I WILL...like Aaron, uphold the hands of my spiritual leader.
I WILL...like Isaiah, consecrate myself to God's work.
I WILL...like Andrew, strive to lead my brother to a closer walk with Christ.
I WILL...like John, lean upon the bosom of the Master.
I WILL...like Stephen, manifest a forgiving Spirit toward all who hurt me.
WOMAN OF PRAISE
So what completes a Proverbs 31 woman? Her crown is that she "fears the Lord". Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Psalms 19:9 "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether." Prov. 10.27 "The fear of the LORD prolongeth days:" 14:26,27 "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence... The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life," 15:16 "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith."
In order to study "a woman that feareth the Lord" we must first understand what it means to fear God. What is "the fear of God"? Charles Bridges gives us this definition: "It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law. His wrath is so bitter, and His love so sweet, that hence springs an earnest desire to please Him." Webster's 1828 dictionary- fear: An holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such an holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. Other perversions of the Bible use the word "reverence" in place of "fear" when referring to the fear of God. But that isn't strong enough. God is not your buddy, or pal, the friendly man upstairs, or just the Man from Galilee. Reverence is part of this fear, but this interpretation is not consistent with those Scriptures which also include the word "tremble" or example. "Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord." Ps. 114:7 or, "My flesh trembleth for the fear of Thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments." Ps. 119:120 Another example is of Habakkuk. It isn't mere reverence in which we see his fear in God's presence. Hab. 3:16. We cannot fully appreciate what it means to fear God if we dilute it to a kind of polite respect. We should think of the fear of God as a holy dread of displeasing Him.
This fear of God we speak of is not synonymous with terror, horror or alarm. God has not given us "the spirit of fear" II Tim. 1:7. Rather, it is a fear born of the realization of who God is and what He is: The absolute and eternal creator, owner, and ruler of the Universe; infinite in holiness and power and knowledge; perfect in love and mercy and justice. This is an awesome concept. "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name" Rev. 15:4. As we begin to understand who and what God is we learn to fear Him.
Fearing the Lord, means literally being afraid of displeasing God. God who is holy, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; attributes that could go on indefinitely. He is all these things in their perfect, absolute state. He and His authority cannot be treated lightly. Yet in the midst of all this holiness and majesty God is equally loving and forgiving. God is complete in his judgment of sin but gentle in His treatment of repentant sinners. His love and forgiveness are readily available for those who receive him, and He washes their sin away as far as the East is from the West (Ps. 103:12).
For Christians there is a right and a wrong kind of fear. He must fear God and he must not fear man. Psalms 56:11 says "In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid of what man can do unto me." There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who fear God and do not fear man and then those who fear man and do not fear God. Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Why should we fear God? We have said because of who He is, but there are more reasons. We should fear Him because to do so pleases Him Ps. 147:11, and because it is our duty Ecc. 12:13. This attitude of reverential awe is due the Creator from His creatures. And we should fear Him because of the many promises of blessings there are to those who do fear God. He expresses such a longing that His children would fear Him. Why? For their own good! "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me and keep my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!" Deut. 5:29. Several times he expressed to the disciples his desire that they would trust him and not be fearful. Matthew 8:26 "And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm." Mark 4:40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?" Why is it we're so afraid to trust God with the everyday aspect of our lives and yet we've trusted him with the future destiny of our soul? That which counts for all eternity. On the other hand, our substitute at Calvary is also able to be our substitute for us in the everyday cares and problems of life. Let him he angry for you; let him take the bitterness, envy, let him take it when others hurt you. What a great substitute we have.
What is practical evidence of the fear of God? The phrase from Ex. 20:20 gives us the answer. "that ye sin not" In other words, fear brings obedience which brings blessing. Look back again in Deuteronomy 5:29. "Fear me... keep commandments...well with them." In order to obey God, we need to study His word to learn what it is he requires and then do it. God really uses and blesses us when we consistently follow His will with no hesitation, no arguing, no complaining. Ps. 119:60.
A woman who fears God will be honored by all who appreciate value. The virtuous woman is guided and ruled by God's principles. Favor and beauty are two characteristics most women seek. A woman of charm is pleasant to be with and a woman of beauty is refreshing to watch but neither make a woman of value. Charm can manipulate and be deceitful while beauty can tempt and ruin virtue and honor.
Winning words and charming manners will draw those who admire beauty and charm; but without true character praise will soon be turned into contempt. So, we see where popularity and good looks may bring temporary fulfillment and happiness, but the godly God-fearing woman has an abiding peace and joy and receives deserved, sincere praise. Let's look briefly at an area of hindrance that keeps some people from accepting praise from others. That area is guilt and forgetting those things that are behind. Some people have difficulty accepting the freedom from guilt that God offers through His forgiveness. Maybe they don't feel they are worthy, but then no one is worthy, God grants forgiveness just the same. A woman today needs to accept God's forgiveness. Too often she will refuse to forgive herself, therefore in reality calling God a liar. There are many verses in the Bible on forgiveness of sin and that God remembers them no more. We have a better memory than God does when it comes to some things in our lives.
The burden of guilt is removed by God, but the Bible says that when a person sows, he will reap. (Gal. 6:7) God does not remove the results of sin such as sickness due to drugs. It has been said that when a person sows his "wild oats", it usually takes about 20 years for the time of harvest to come. Many young people think they can go out and have all the fun in the world and not have to pay for it. Pay day will come!!
Psalms 51 is a good chapter for steps to keep one from falling back into sin.
Some women are praised above what they deserve, but those who praise the Proverbs woman "give her of the fruit of her hands." They give her that which she has dearly earned and is justly due to her. "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." Prov. 14:1 A tree is known by its fruit, so if the fruit is good, it will be praised. The same is true of the fruit of your hands. What kind of fruit are you producing? Are your children good fruit, or "bad apples"? I Tim. 5:4 "But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety (reverence of parents accompanied with affection and devotion to their honor and happiness) at home, and to requite (to recompense; to return an equivalent in good; to reward) their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God."
The Proverbs woman does not applaud herself but accepts praise from others. Her good works will proclaim her praise as her relatives and friends observe her. Prov. 15:23 ...and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Ruth had a testimony amongst the Jews when she came back with Naomi which was known all over Bethlehem-Judah. Ruth 3:11 "And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest; for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman." If you want to know more about how to be a virtuous woman, study the life of Ruth. What did she do that caused a whole city to know that she was a virtuous woman? Prov. 27:2 "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips." Ps. 49:18 "...and men will praise thee, when thou doest will to thyself."
The success of the Proverbs woman is her relationship to God. Listed are some ways to develop that relationship:
The Holy Spirit is a gentle Teacher. He will lead you along as fast as you will allow him to. He will shed light on the areas of your life that you need to give to God. He will never force you to go against your will-- the choice is yours. God is not near as hard on us as we are on ourselves. But, once light has been shown on something, we are accountable for what we've been made aware of. Yielding to the Holy Spirit involves a process of discipline. Are you walking in the spirit, or living in the flesh? Some people can hide their sins of the flesh. We can not quit sinning. We are only able to curb it, it cannot be cured. The Rapture is the cure. A lion may be in chains, but it is still a lion.
Paul describes what Christians could be like with the Holy Spirit's power working in and through their lives in Galatians 5. He contrasts, "Now the works of the flesh are... but the fruit of the Spirit is..." Gal.5:19,22 Let's look at the two words "works" and "fruit". Works of the flesh- fruit of the Spirit. Works speaks of effort, mechanics, toils of labor. Works result in weariness, faintness, and other frustration. It is accompanied by much display and noise of hammers and saws. However, fruit is the result of just receiving, yielding, and accepting. It means having no confidence in the flesh, but an honest confession of weakness, an earnest plea for forgiveness, and a surrender to the will of God."
The works of the flesh (clearly visible to the eye) are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, (worshipping something in place of God) witchcraft, (worship of devil, rock music) hatred, variance, (fightings) emulations, (striving to be like someone else) wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Everyone one of these fits the category of SELF. These works must be overcome by walking in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and living in the Spirit. By yielding to God, the Fruit of the Spirit is produced.
The Fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, (freedom from agitation) longsuffering, gentleness, (softness of manner) goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. There are different areas of our life in which fruit is reflected.
A. Relationship to self- personal fruit: love, joy, peace.
Nine parts of one fruit, all supplied by the Holy Spirit. Let's look at some things about fruit. Fruit comes as a natural part of growth. It is seasonal. Some fruit comes as the result of the working of God in the area of other fruit. And then, if my relationship with God is right, then it will also be right with others.
To be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, a woman must have a daily devotional life by spending time studying the Bible and by spending time in prayer. Just as you need food for your physical body, you must feed yourself spiritually in order to grow and develop as a
Christian. I realize that mothers with young children have a harder time finding time to spend with the Lord. If sometimes during the day you can read just a verse, it will be something to meditate on during the day and God can use it in your life. God understands those times. Make a conscience effort though,
to have some time with him. Prayer is to a woman's spiritual life as air is to her physical life. It can be done anytime during the day. You don't have to be on your knees. When my children, my prayer time would sometimes be when I was doing dishes, cleaning, or doing laundry. Here is a simple pattern to
follow when praying.
Another formula for "becoming a woman that feareth the Lord"
Through "ACTS" you can become a "MATURE" Christian woman. When a woman develops her inner beauty by spending time reading the word of God and praying, she will learn the fine art of victorious Christian living through the Holy Spirit working in her life.
What greater praise and reward could she desire in this life than the consciousness that she has done her best for her Saviour? What greater reward could she ask after leaving this world than the happy privilege of living and reigning throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity with her Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After studying all the characteristics of the virtuous woman, her talents, gifts and accomplishments, we might think that she would be tempted to be proud, to boast, or to glory in the praise she receives. She doesn't. Why not? She is humble. We have studied the description of the virtuous woman and she would not be complete without this quality. Prov. 27:2, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth." Although she is involved in many activities that take her from place to place, her husband is the one who is known in the gates (vs. 23). She is a crown, an adornment and a complement to him (Prov. 12:4), not calling attention to herself. We note that she is clothed with honor (vs. 25), and before honor is humility (Prov.15:33; 18:12). And finally, we know she fears God. Pride and the fear of God are mutually exclusive. Ladies' adorning will be found to praise, honor, and glorify Jesus Christ at His appearing.
I trust you have found this study helpful. Sometimes it's hard to put on paper the thoughts that run through your head like they do when teaching ladies, but I've tried to do my best. When I first started teaching this study, I used just one book. Over the years, I've added other material, taken out some I used before, and used a lot more of my thoughts. I've listed as many of these books as I can remember. Articles from magazines have been given credit. If ever I can be of help to you or if you have any questions or comments about this study, don't hesitate to let me know. May God receive the praise, honor and glory for all!
Books I read to do this study are as follows: