Proverbs 31 contains what is commonly known as the Virtuous Wife passage. One might say it’s about the ideal woman. While the verses are typically thought to instruct wives, there’s plenty of encouragement for husbands too!
The Virtuous Wife’s Treatment of Her Husband
Proverbs 31:11-12—The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
He trusts her in more ways than one. He knows she is hardworking and does not need someone standing over her shoulder ensuring she is making good use of her time or the family’s finances. She is not like women who might spend hours on the phone, the Internet, or in front of the television. He also trusts her faithfulness to him, knowing she is the opposite of the adulterous wife in Proverbs 7:10–23 who entices the foolish young man with the temptation: “For my husband is not at home.” He has “no lack of gain” because as his helper she works hard to “[do] him good.” The rest of the passage elaborates on the ways the Virtuous Wife cares for her family and others.
The Virtuous Wife’s Job Description
Proverbs 31:13-16—She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar. Also, she rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.
Interestingly, this passage was written at a time when women were not only legal possessions of men but their sphere of influence traditionally did not extend beyond the home and raising children. So what this passage includes as attributes of the “perfect woman” stands out in even starker contrast to what one might consider a stereotype of the biblical wife.
Notice she gathers the materials to take care of her family. She is diligent with her hands and travels to secure the best food for her loved ones. Her hardworking nature is shown in the way she gets up before dawn to have food prepared not just for her family but also for the servants. She is industrious and resourceful as she buys a field and then reinvests the profits to make more money for her family. This is important because it shows that women can also engage in work that provides for their families financially. Men are not the only ones who can make money.
The Virtuous Wife Takes Care of Her Family, the Poor, and Herself
A few years ago I learned the important lesson that marriage is a reflection of our relationship with Christ. Katie and I faced the biggest crisis of our marriage. I started pastoring Woodland Christian Church when it was fairly small. Within three years the congregation had tripled in size. I admit that before I became a pastor, I was completely unaware of how much work is actually involved in shepherding a church of even a few hundred people. I had been an Army officer, a supervisor at a distribution center for Target, and an elementary school teacher. But none of those occupations approached the amount of mental and emotional energy and sheer hard work pastoring entails!
We had no secretary or associate pastor at the time. Almost all of my waking hours were packed with studying, teaching, counseling, making phone calls, sending e-mails, meeting with people, addressing administrative responsibilities, and tending to benevolence issues. When I was home, I should have been an engaged father and husband. Unfortunately, I did not have much left for my family emotionally, mentally, or physically.
Although I was failing as a husband and father, I was able to convince myself I was still pleasing the Lord. I compartmentalized my life by saying, “I am a Christian first, a spouse second, a parent third, and an employee fourth.” Instead, I should have said, “I am a Christian spouse, a Christian parent, a Christian employee.” The danger of seeing ourselves as a Christian first and a spouse second is we can find ourselves believing the lie I bought into at the time: “If I can be a good pastor, I can please God even though I am not the best husband.” The truth is that I was a poor husband, and I should have recognized that meant I was not pleasing the Lord.Continue reading “Marriage Is a Reflection of Our Relationships with Christ”→