Devotion for the Week...
This week brings us to the conclusion of my series on the 'Noble Wife' of Proverbs 31, where we will look at her relationships with people other than her husband. For my other devotions in this series, click here, here and here. To read the full passage, click here.
Three verses speak about the woman's relationships with others. In verse 20 we see her doing what she can to address the needs in her community: "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Though we don't know exactly how she helped the poor and needy, we know there are many ways to do so. Giving money, food, clothing or any other physical necessity is one way. Helping a person learn skills that could lead to employment is another. Counseling or encouragement is another. All of these options would have been available to a woman in Bible times and they are all still available to us today.
In this digital age, the entire world's dire needs are continually in our view. The list of opportunities to give are endless. It is essential to give internationally, as in relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, or child sponsorship programs through organizations such as Compassion or humanitarian efforts such as those by Samaritan's Purse.
But I think we should also be trying to meet needs within our own communities. Those are often harder to see because people don't like to appear needy, so they mask their needs as best they can. That the Noble Wife does work to meet the needs of her community says a lot not only about her willingness to help, but also her awareness of the needs. How often are we so wrapped up in the concerns of our own lives that we don't even see the needs of others? We have to keep our eyes and our hearts open to truly see those around us.
Verse 26 moves a little closer to home, showing her relationship with those who look to her for wisdom and guidance. "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Maybe these were younger women in her social circle, or even those she worked with in some capacity. Though the term doesn't appear here, she would have been considered a mentor to others. She shared her wisdom freely and helped others learn whenever her help was needed. Many of us are free with our advice, but how often do we pray for wisdom before we speak? When it is appropriate, do we willingly share what we know that could help others?
Verse 28 moves right into the home, to the woman's relationship with her own children. "Her children arise and call her blessed." We've all known stories of parents who appeared to be model citizens, but who were indifferent, nasty or even abusive to their children. What would our children say if speaking honestly about us? Would it be that we were too busy for them? That we were always impatient? Or do they feel we take time for them, that we love them and value them for who they are right now?
Would they tell of constant gossiping? Of judging others or speaking negatively about those we pretend to like? A child's impressions of our actions could be quite revealing. Would they call us blessed? What would we need to change for them to see us that way?
Proverbs 31:10-31 offers a picture of a woman who is hard-working, kind and generous to all. In short, she is exactly the sort of person every Christian woman should strive to become. I certainly don't feel I measure up to that standard. Do you? If not, what steps can we take to improve each area of our lives that needs work?