The P31 Case Study

I generally avoid Proverbs 31 and its ideal woman, do you? It conjurs up feelings of deficiency: No, I don't wake up early--not willingly. My children don't yet rise up and call me blessed (tired and frustrated maybe). I don't sew very often. I don't run a thriving business. I like to stay up late, but usually not to work.

So when my pastor chose to preach a sermon on Proverbs 31 this past Mother's Day Sunday, I was interested to see how this could be encouraging to a group of tired mamas, not to mention the variety of other people in the room. But what he taught was really encouraging to me, so I thought I'd share it with you (I will add the link to the sermon when it's posted).

Pastor Paul explained that Proverbs 31 is actually a bookend for the whole book. Proverbs starts with this: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 31:7), and it ends with this: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30). In between is a whole book of how to practically live out life in the fear of the LORD.

What does is it mean to fear the LORD? We know that God's character is perfect love (see this previous post), so it's not God's wrath or anger that we have to fear if we're in Jesus. Fear of God is living with every area of our lives under His authority, His Kingship. It's letting Him have the ownership of all we do--from the mundane to the extraordinary--it all matters.

And that's where this description of the excellent wife in Proverbs 31: 10-31 comes in. It chronicles her many activities, none of them seemingly spiritual. This is a life I imagine she grew into over a long time of fearing the Lord, bringing each area under His control--how she managed her household, treated her servants, clothed her family, managed her money, and treated her husband--all were important to God. All honored God as her King.

This woman's well-lived life is more of a case study in what it looks like to fear the LORD in everyday life than a model for us to replicate. This is a description of what A WOMAN who fears the Lord looks like, not what ALL WOMEN who fear the Lord look like. 

If we approach it as a model, then we end up comparing ourselves and how we fulfill or fall short of her example. But if we look at her as a case study of a life lived to glorify God, then we find inspiration.

What can we learn from her? We can ask, "God, how can I do my life to your glory today?"

For me this week, that means doing a few chores each morning and letting the rest go undone. It means looking at our week and planning our meals. It means stopping to look at a dance move and a playdough alien creation. It means watching the clock and the baby to see when he needs to take his nap.  It means pulling out the laptop and typing up ideas for this post as they marinate in my brain. It means saving my work for Wednesday when my mom will come and watch the kids. It means talking over ideas for the house with my husband and truly listening to him, even when we disagree. It means instead instead of yelling this time, I try to set the example of self-control and say through clenched teeth, "Mommy is really frustrated right now." It means listening to the Holy Spirit each step of my day.

Your days might look completely different. Apart from the clear guidance of the Bible, no one can prescribe for you what living for Jesus moment by moment looks like. Pray. Ask for advice. If you're married, come to agreement with your husband. And then go forward step by step and obey God.

Can we agree to stop looking to this awesome Proverbs 31 lady, or any other amazing woman, as a model to compare ourselves to?  Instead, let's start looking at each other for inspiration to be who God made us to be. Let's be each other's cheerleaders as we pursue the variety of things we are called to do.

I hope I'm glorifying God as I stay at home with my kids, blog, do Scripture art, and homeschool. I hope that encourages you. But don't get confused. Let's look to Jesus and strive to be more like HIM and allow Him to show us the shape our lives will take.

Being conformed to His image doesn't mean He turns out cookie-cutter women who pursue the same passions and activities. Let your life be just one more case study in a great big volume of what fearing the LORD looks like today.

"Let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b-2).

What would "the excellent wife" tell us if she were a modern blogger? Maybe she would say, "Sister, I just did what was in front of me and asked God to help me do it well. Nothing remarkable."

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  1. I love this. Great writing! Very encouraging!


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