I always wanted to be a Proverbs 31 woman.
The only problem is that I don’t really have any idea what that means.
Does being a proverbs 31 woman mean being one of those super hospitable wives and super committed moms? How does that work for me – being neither a wife or a mother, (let alone hospitable and committed)?
Does it mean being super involved at church? I work at a Church! Score!
Does it mean walking through the characteristics of the gal in the passage like a check list? Here are the things I’ve gotta do today if I want to be a woman who fears the Lord!
The sneaky thing about Proverbs 31 is that it doesn’t tell you what to do to become a woman who fears the Lord. It provides a description of what flows out of a woman who already fears the Lord.
Below you’ll find four characteristics of a ‘woman who fears the Lord’ that I ripped off from a sermon out of the archives at Desiring God.
These things aren’t things to add to your to-do list. They’re an opportunity to test your heart. If we have a right ‘fear’ or understanding of God, then these four characteristics will overflow in our hearts:
1. A woman who fears the Lord isn’t anxious about what’s going to happen in her life.
First, a woman who fears the Lord is not anxious about the future…“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
Our anxiety reveals what we think about God.
Do we honestly think He’s a soveriegn and good Father? Do we honestly believe He cares about the mundane details of our lives and is working everything out for our good?
If so, it will affect our anxiety about how our kids are going to do in school this Fall or our fears about being single this time next year, or our obsession with how we’re going to pay our bills next month, or worry about how we’re going to do in that meeting at work tomorrow.
2. A woman who fears the Lord speaks wisdom and kindness.
Second, the woman who fears the Lord has practical wisdom. Verse 26, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
I love this because I’m a big fan of women redeeming passive communication. This verse tells us that if we’re going to be good stewards of our words we have to know and love God. A right view of Him will effect the way we choose to spend the gift of language He has given us.
3. A woman who fears the Lord is strong.
Third, the woman who fears the Lord is strong. Verse 25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing.” Verse 17, “She girds her loins with strength and makes her arms strong.”
Think for a second about how you define ‘strength’. Here’s what Piper goes on to say:
Proverbs 23:17 says, “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.” The woman who continues in the fear of the Lord will have power to resist all the allurements to envy, to desire what she shouldn’t have.
True strength looks like contentment.
Do you want to know if your fear of the Lord overflows into strength? Do you envy others?
Threads of discontentment reveal a heart that does not fully grasp the greatness and goodness of our maker.
4. A woman who fears the Lord is for other people, not against them.
Fourth, a woman who fears the Lord will live not for herself alone but for others…Verses 11, 12, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not harm all the days of her life.”
Our view of God will play out in our interaction with others. If we trust that God is for us, it frees us up to be for other people. We can look out for their interests because we know God is looking out for ours.
All four of these characteristics overflow from a right understanding and relationship with God.
You can’t just get out of your chair and go do these four things to earn the ‘proverbs 31’ merit badge.
If you want to be free of anxiety, if you want to speak kindness and wisdom, if you want to be strong and be for other people, the solution is gloriously complex: fear the Lord.
My hope is that, like me you’ll see this list as a reminder of just how far you have to go in your sanctification.
Let this list remind you of the opportunity you have to grow in your ‘fear’ of the Lord. Let that opportunity excited you. There’s more of Him to know. There’s more of Him to trust.
As we grow in fearing Him we will be transformed – not to the image of some cool Proverbs woman. We will be transformed into the very image of His Son. Neat.