Monday, September 3, 2012

Proverbs 31 Woman Vs. A Virtuous Woman

No, I don't think they are the same thing. And now I've got you hooked. You have to keep reading to see if I am promoting some heresy. 

“Oh! certainly,” cried his faithful assistant, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, all the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”

“All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”

“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.” Pride and Prejudice

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

 Except for the opening words of Pride and Prejudice (It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Jane really knew how to start things with a bang, didn't she!), these are probably my most favorite lines from that classic.

Darcy's accomplished woman was extremely rare.

King Lemuel's mother's "virtuous" woman was just as rare.

Virtue and Rubies
Most regular readers of my blog will realize that I like the dictionary. If I am wondering what a word really means...out comes Webster's.

Virtuous means having or showing high moral standards, chaste. Possessing or characterized by chastity; pure.

A virtuous woman is hard to find. A virtuous woman's worth is far more than costly rubies.

To put this in perspective:

"Ruby is the red variety of corundum. It is quite a bit rarer than the blue gems. The rarity combined with the demand for rich red gems keeps the price very high. Among rubies though, there is no shortage of small gems, the kind used in cluster rings. They are somewhat expensive, but readily available. It is when you get into gems of a carat of more that they get really expensive. Good quality rubies in this size range are few and far between. The law of supply and demand is really obvious here. While many people would like a full carat ruby, few have the thousands of dollars needed to purchase one." (source)

Virtuous women are rare.

What I wore Sunday. New lbd.
LC was doing something weird here.
Two Sides of the Coin
I have grown up in circles where the Proverbs 31 woman is the paean of examples. She is the woman that all Christian women should aim to be like.

I've read magazines, done Bible studies, and read books to this end. And there are still books being written, and blogs, devoted to pursuing Proverbs 31 excellence.

And then there is the other crowd who completely despises her. I mean "who weaves clothe and churns their own butter anymore?" The Proverbs 31 woman is a standard that just can't be attained. This is one of those chapters of the Bible we'd rather not be included. So it is scoffed at or ignored.

Well, my own personal opinion is that we aren't supposed to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. That should not be our aim. (bear with me here)

Christian ladies are supposed to be like Jesus Christ. We are to be little Christs-not Proverbs 31 women. We are to imitate His example, and allow the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in our lives.

And by aiming to imitate Jesus Christ, and be conformed to His image, we will actually become more like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.

at $6, better than a thrift find. Scarf as a headband or around neck.

Not Semantics
I have found that if you are aiming to be like the Proverbs 31 woman, that emphasis tends to end up on the outward things she did. We even have our own modern interpretations and adaptions of those skills.

But, the emphasis in Proverbs 31 about the virtuous woman is moral character, not home making skills. The inner life leads to the outer actions.

This is not to say that I am not all about thriving in your home atmosphere, because I am. I do the sewing, and home business, and home schooling and cooking and gardening. 

This might make me a Proverbs 31 woman, but it doesn't make me a virtuous woman.

Let's take a look at the character words and some actions listed in Proverbs 31.

v.11-12-the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, he shall have no fear of spoil; she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. Here she is described as trust worthy, dependable. She is frugal not a spend thrift.

v. 13-19, 21-these verses describe her industry and diligence. The woman of virtue works hard. She provides for her family. They aren't running around hungry and naked.

v. 15-rises while it is yet night...she is an early riser. Early differs from person to person. But successful people are almost always early risers. There have been studies that prove this.

v.22-while the emphasis is not on outward appearance, she is a smart dresser. Her clothing is silk and purple. Silk and purple were the quality clothe available back then. She wasn't wearing rags. When I think of this verse, I think of one of my good friends. Recently someone complimented her on a skirt she was wearing. She said she had had it for probably 20 years. It was quality and classic.

v.23-her husband has a good reputation, and her behavior and character doesn't detract from that.

v.24-she has a home business. I am seeing this a lot in our generation what with Etsy shops, and blogs, and all that kind of stuff. Women earning this generation's version of "egg money."

From v. 25-31, the queen mother is on a role.
Strength and honor are her clothing.
She will rejoice in the future.
She opens her mouth with wisdom.
Her tongue is ruled by a law of kindness.
She looks well to the ways of her household.
She isn't idle.
Her children and husband call her blessed.

Many daughters have done virtuously BUT  you surpass them all. Favor (popularity, followers, likes) is deceitful, beauty is vain. But a woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates.

What are you going to do?
If you focus on doing all the outward things the virtuous woman did, you are going to miss the mark, because you are missing the heart.

If, however, you focus on being like Christ, and having these character qualities developed in your life, your reward and end result is going to look a lot like this elusive and rare virtuous woman.

Whether you are married or single, young or old, you can be this woman.

What are you aiming for? Which woman do you want to be when you grow up-the Proverbs 31 woman or the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31?

*just wanted to let you know that on Thursday, I am going to write a letter to one of this century's virtuous women. You just might want to check back, because there is going to be a pretty neat giveaway involved.

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