by Dorette Saunders
The writer of Proverbs 31 has several interesting ways to describe the characteristics of the ideal woman. While no human being, male or female, is perfect, these descriptions present us with a standard. Just before the close of the chapter, the writer pens these words:
Charm can be deceiving,
and beauty fades away,
but a woman
who honors the Lord
deserves to be praised.
(Proverbs 31:30, CEV)
Perhaps as a woman reading through the entire chapter you instinctively tell yourself that you cannot aspire to the level of the woman being described. The work she did, and the things she accomplished seem awesome. Yet, verse 30 reminds us that while we may consider ourselves a work in progress, God’s Word gives us hope.
We don’t have to be charming, poised, or beautiful. While these are wholesome attributes, they will eventually grow stale or ultimately vanish. What is important, however, is our relationship with God. If we serve and honor the Lord, we will gain God’s favor.
A simple tip: Put God first, and everything we desire will follow when it fits God’s plan (Matthew 6:33). We are designed exquisitely by God (Psalm 139:14) with a distinct purpose—which is to serve and glorify God.
In Bible times, women were not empowered the way we are today—and we still have a very long way to go. Yet, in several narratives we get glimpses of women’s wisdom, wit, and resilience as they battle the norms of a patriarchal society. They were relegated to do, even as many of us are today, what society considered woman’s work.
When Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well at Sychar (John 4:5-42), he ignores cultural and ethnic codes and strikes up a conversation with her. In turn, the woman verbally spars with Jesus about getting water from the well. Jesus then invites her to “draw” water from him, the living well. As their conversation continues, she correctly concludes that Jesus is a prophet, and proceeds to tell him what she knows about Messianic prophecy.
‘The woman said, “I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
“I am that one,” Jesus told her, “and I am speaking to you now.”’
(John 4:25-26, CEV)
Imagine, in that unconventional setting, while she was doing “woman’s work,” Jesus reveals his deity. Although she may have been marginalized because of her lifestyle, yet she was affirmed by Jesus.
At that moment, it didn’t matter that the woman had been married five times and was now living with a man who was not her husband. What mattered was that her encounter with Jesus would change her life forever. What mattered was that she had now become an on-the-spot evangelist, willing to run back to tell others in her town the Good News of Jesus. Her zeal caused many to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
How has honoring God changed your life? When was the last time you told someone the Good News of Jesus? Sharing your testimony is important work, not just for women, but for everyone.
PRAYER: God, you are with us even as we do the most mundane tasks. Help us to do all our work well. Enable us to have an open mind as we seek you and as we put you first in all our endeavors. Remind us that you have made us all in a wonderful way. And help us to celebrate our differences, even as we honor you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.