Friday, July 1, 2005

Proverbs 31

A friend of mine gave me an article on things for couples to consider before they get married. The title of it read:

Should They Get Married?
Should She Marry Him?

That really struck me…why not “Should He Marry Her?” or better…”Should Someone Marry Me?”

That was what stuck with me…the question…”Am I marriable?”

As I pondered this, Proverbs 31 came to mind. Until about a year and a half ago, this was a passage of scripture that I grudgingly skipped over. It was for married women and I was DECIDEDLY NOT MARRIED (can you hear the tone??)…therefore I didn’t need to read it. Then I would huffily turn the page.

It was very sad. And I am so thankful that I am not there anymore!

Anyway, I heard someone explain this passage in a way that was totally new to me. This was written by a mother to her unmarried son. It was an acrostic poem intended to help him FIND an excellent wife. So…the character traits portrayed by the wife in this passage are character traits he was expected to look for … in a SINGLE woman. Of course the application of those traits would be different for a woman living as a single vs. a woman living as a wife, mother and homemaker…but the traits should be there.

I had a little time to sit and read and ponder this last night. I read over the proverb and then wrote down the character traits that I saw in this woman. What I saw was that she was: trustworthy, does her husband good ALL the days of her life (not just sometimes or after they are married), works and serves others willingly, isn’t concerned with her own care or comfort, strength and character are her adornment, she sees that she has been given something of worth and used it, helps the needy in practical ways, isn’t afraid of life’s extremes and is prepared for them, presents herself well, reflects well on all closely connected with her, doesn’t fret about – but rather, rejoices in the future, tends her home well, fears the Lord.

Let me add here that this isn't "The Rules" for nabbing a husband. My motivation in reading this and thinking on these things isn't to learn how to trap myself a man. I do believe that the Lord would have me marry...though I know I can't be certain of that where I am now. And, while I do want to prepare for marriage as best I can, I also want to make the most of the time the Lord gives me as a do as Paul says we are to do and make our main focus the things of the Lord. I don't want to wait for some life-altering event...or even wait for a get serious about being the woman God intends me to be. I want to be about that now and seek Him on how He would have me express my femininity where He has me at this point in time, irregardless of what the future brings.

All of that was in my heart as I wrote a list of questions to ask myself about where I am with all of the character traits I saw in the Proverbs 31 woman. When I got the end I looked over them and knew that I’d be spending some time with the Lord on this. I think it is important for us (at every stage of life) to sort of take an inventory of who we are in Christ. The Lord has given us this portrait of a woman who is to be praised…because of her Fear of the Lord and the resultant life of obedience and honor to Him. I think it would be good for all of us to regularly stand next to that standard and see how we measure up…asking the Lord for His direction and Spirit to keep us from falling into condemnation AND to give us the faith to accept and act on His correction or reproof.

I know at the end of my time with the Lord I likely have had a few painful or shameful moments…but I also know that He corrects those He loves…He wounds and He heals…and He intends it all for my good and His glory. It is purposeful and not merely to inflict wounds…nor is it intended to lead to discouragement…but hope that He never starts anything He doesn’t intend to finish or tear down something He doesn’t intend to replace with something better.

I will type in the questions I asked myself…I think they apply to any woman, really and hope they are of some help or inspiration to you.

Am I trustworthy?

Am I doing my husband good…at home…in my thoughts…emotions…finances…in prayer and in my relationships?

Do I work and serve willingly?

Am I more concerned with my own care and comfort than with what is required of me?

Do I exhibit or am I cultivating strength of character?

Do I see how God has blessed and gifted me and fit me for services?

Do I consider those giftings valuable and use them?

Do I readily open my hand to those in need…or do I “just” pray or feel compassion and not follow up with any action?

Am I prepared practically and spiritually for life’s extremes?

Do I present myself well?

Do I reflect well on those closely connected to me? (or do they suffer “guilt by association”?)

Do I rejoice or fret over the future?

Do I tend my home (car, work) well?

Am I making a home or is it just a crash pad/storage shed?

Do I fear the Lord?
Questions I thought to ask regarding this are:
Do I pray?
Do I conduct myself in public and private in a way that glorifies the Lord?
Do I study, memorize and apply His word?
Do I live as if His return was imminent?
Do I respond humbly to correction and chastisement?
Do I truly believe that He alone is my provider, sustainer, and protector …my comfort, joy and strength?

Again, (and I am reminding myself here, too) the aim is not discouragement or condemnation…it is to humbly submit oneself to the Lord and be open to what He has to say…and how He would have us respond.

“For those who bow down low…he’ll lift up to His side..”

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