Author: Jana Anderson
If there were ever a series of scriptures that have caused me more guilt and despair and feelings of inadequacy as a wife and a mother, I can’t think of any. Welcome to Proverbs 31:10-31, and enter at your own risk.
That’s what I used to think, but over the years, including the rich teaching in a bible class just a month ago, spiritual mentors and teachers have pointed me to the beauty—and perhaps the true point—of this set of scriptures that describe a Godly and productive woman whose husband and children call her blessed and who can cook, sew, build a business, get up early, go to bed late, and even has a sense of humor. She sounds like a keeper, and it makes sense that she garnered the admiration and respect of so many, especially those at home.
Is the description of this woman, and the beauty of her life, the culmination of the wisdom of proverbs and a checklist for us to follow? Should I use her life as a template for my own? (What do I do with the fact that I can’t sew, which gets mentioned several times throughout these verses and makes my heart race?
These are the wrong questions.
When the writer of Proverbs began this record of wisdom all the way back in Chapter 1:7, he wrote that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Flash-forward to the end of Proverbs 31 and the culmination of the description of the Proverbs 31 woman: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (v. 30).
It seems to me that the whole point of Proverbs 31—and all of Proverbs—is this: if you want to be wise, if you want to start from the right place in all that you think and do, then do this one thing: fear the Lord. Love him. Reverence him. Understand your position in front of Him. If a position of godly fear is the starting point from which you launch your to-do list, from which you think and speak, and the position from which you serve and lead, then you will be wise and will “surpass them all” (v. 29).
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Start there, and the rest will take care of itself, even if you can’t sew. You will be “more precious than jewels” (10) and your wisdom, not your sewing skills, will be worthy of praise.