When I think about my mom, I can honestly say I see a picture of the Proverbs 31 woman. While I think she is absolutely beautiful on the outside, I know that inwardly she is a God fearing wife and mother, who is loyal, hardworking, compassionate, and strong. She has taught me the importance of character and that my relationship with God can only be limited by what I’m willing to seek. She has always encouraged my brothers and I (and pretty much everyone else for that matter) that we can do anything we set our mind to. As the book of Proverbs ends with the picture of a woman with strong Godly character, great wisdom, skill and compassion, it makes me think of how much this same message is still needed today.
In a time where the importance on our outward appearance takes precedence over who we actually are is saddening. While I do want to be presentable when I leave the house, I need to make sure I put as much thought and consideration into what my husband and children need as well, after all, they are an extension of me. The appearance of the Proverbs wife is never mentioned, yet she has made it through centuries as one of the most revered women with outstanding abilities, strength, and dignity! Character is attractive.
Now, by no means is anyone saying to “let yourself go” and just take care of others. Actually, the moral of the passage is the opposite. In taking care of others, we are taking better care of ourselves, developing deeper character, and gaining respect from others. Verse 28 says, “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” Let me ask, what kind of person do you want to be? Do you involve yourself in relationships because of what you seek to gain, or do you desire to make others better, growing together with them in wisdom and character to make this world a better place to live and love in?
Don’t mistake this biblical idea of a wife and mother as being servile, weak, retiring, or entirely domestic, because that is far from the truth. The woman described throughout verses 10-21 is a manufacturer, realtor, manager, farmer, seamstress, and merchant to name a few. She is full of industry, integrity, and resourcefulness. She is who I aspire to be. Not only for myself, but my children, my husband, my friends, my church, and the world around me!
This Proverbs woman of noble character needs to be found among families today. We can wear the latest fashion, obtain fine jewelry, remove our wrinkles, and go to the gym, but without character, what are we leaving our families when we leave this world. We need to pass on the qualities mentioned throughout this book — hard work, fear of God, respect for others, foresight, encouragement, compassion, concern for the poor, and financial sagacity. When we do, it will lead to joy, success, honor, and wisdom.
“30 Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” — Proverbs 31:30-31
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.