“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
When I accepted a position working for Proverbs 31 Ministries, I felt like a hypocrite.
In no way did I consider myself a “Proverbs 31 Woman.”
For the majority of my life, this “Wife of Noble Character” was an old-fashioned concept. To me, it was an impossible standard. A portion of Scripture I didn’t care to read, much less apply.
Even if I tried, how could I measure up? Not just how she wakes up before the sun rises, makes her own clothes and doesn’t eat carbs (if you count “the bread of idleness”). She’s married. Taking care of her kids. Running a household.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12, NIV).
And here I am, a single 20-something, living in an apartment. I don’t even have a boyfriend, much less a husband and kids.
Does that mean I’m disqualified from this lofty standard of womanhood?
Maybe you’re single, too. Or married, and you still feel like you can’t measure up.
It’s easy to believe we can only become our best selves once we have our lives “together.”
For some of us, it’s getting married. For others, it’s having a house with a well-behaved family and a chocolate lab who never has accidents in the house. We may know in our mind a husband and kids don’t complete us, but our heart tells a different story.
However, if you read Proverbs 31 closely, none of the skills she has depend on her husband or kids. She has these skills because she exercises wisdomin everything she does.
The standards for a “virtuous wife” are the same standards for a virtuous woman — single or married. Here are a few character traits we see in Proverbs 31:10-31:
- Trustworthy (v. 11)
- A hard worker (v. 13,17, 27)
- Resourceful (v. 14,19, 22, 24)
- Makes good use of her time (v. 15,18)
- Good with money (v. 16)
- Generous (v. 20)
- She thinks ahead (v. 21)
- And, of course, she’s wise (v. 25)
It’s still overwhelming to look at this list. I don’t know if there’s one thing here I can say with confidence I’ve mastered.
But one of the most important things to remember is it’s not a prescription for us to fulfill, but a testimony of how God shapes us into His image. Not one woman in the Bible was perfect: Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes, Ruth was a widow from a pagan nation, the woman at the well was divorced five times, Mary was too young, Elizabeth was too old …
So what did they all have in common?
Proverbs 31:30 says: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
In Proverbs 1:7a, we find a similar declaration, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (NIV).
To fear the Lord is to feel the weight of His holiness as you love and obey Him. Think of the fear a child has of disappointing her parent — not because she’s scared of getting punished, but because she doesn’t want to displease someone she loves and respects.
This is what will characterize us as a “Proverbs 31 Woman”: our fear of the Lord. Our genuine desire, from the core of who we are, to please Him.
If I listed every character trait I aspire to have, I’d wind up with pages and pages. But without the fear of the Lord, none of these aspirations amount to anything. Why?
Because every good thing in my life will be a direct result of my relationship with God.
Proverbs 31 is not a job description for women, nor is it a shopping list for men. It’s an example of the abundance God gives us over time as we grow to know and love Him more. And as a single woman, it’s a good reminder that a husband and kids are not a prerequisite to receive all God has for me in this life.
Dear God, thank You for all Your blessings. There is so much I take for granted because I’m so busy wishing I had more. But You are more than enough. Thank You for all of the gifts and talents You’ve given me. I ask that You’d give me direction in using them for Your glory regardless of my circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Titus 2:12, “And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.” (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What specific struggles make you feel like you’ll never measure up as a “godly woman”?
What are some things you can do now — as a single or married woman — to help you develop or grow your fear of the Lord?
© 2017 by Lauren Oquist. All rights reserved.