Wise in Her Work- Proverbs Week 11- Day 3

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  (14)  She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.  (15)  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.  (16)  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 

Proverbs 31:13-16 

Explanation:

Here you see the second quality of a virtuous woman.  She is wise in her work.  The virtuous woman is not idle.  She is busy making everything around her better.

In verse 13 you see her using raw textiles to create things with her hands.

In verse 14 you see her willing to go the extra mile to make meals the best they can be.

In verse 15 you see her getting up extra early to accomplish what she needs done.  She is preparing and presenting food to her entire household.

In verse 16 you see her making a purchase because of the extra income that she has made from her work.  What she purchases is not something of novelty, but rather an investment that will help her to make even more money.  Her investment will take hard work and management, but she is willing to go that way.  You see a growth here.

Application:

Here are four words that characterize wise work:

1.  Effort.

As you read about the work of the virtuous woman you see that she is making a real effort.  She is not shying away from tasks that are difficult.  Anything worth pursuing takes hard work and effort to achieve.  We must not be lazy and just “put in our time.”  We should make an effort in our daily work to make things better.

2.  Excellence.

The virtuous woman is not just fulfilling tasks, but is putting in the extra effort to make things the best that they can be.  She is pursuing excellence.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  Everything we do should be done the best we can.  It’s an attitude that turns into an action.

3.  Early.

Notice that the virtuous woman got up early.  In the pursuit of excellence (#2) that happens when we make a real effort (#1), there will be times where going the extra mile means we get up early.  The idea here is that there has been a calculation and stewardship of our time.  This pursuit of excellence means we make sure we get to sleep early and rise early to give ourselves the best shot at excellence.

4.  Expansion.

Notice that her work in the cottage industry of textiles has lead to her purchase of a vineyard, an external industry.  You see here a growth in her production as there has been the pursuit of excellence.  She is growing, her production is growing, and her influence and resources expand as a result.  When we steward our effort well, there will be growth.

Response:

  • Would the description of your life and work be like the virtuous womans life and work?  
  • Are you lazy or industrious? 
  • Do you do things with effort?
  • Are you stewarding your time well? 
  • Is there an excellence to your work?  Are you growing?

Committed to Her Husband- Proverbs- Week 11- Day 2

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  (12)  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:11-12 

Explanation:

There are four general qualities of the virtuous woman that are described in this text.  Today we see the first quality.  The virtuous woman is committed to her husband.  How do we know this?

Verse 11 says that her husband can completely trust her.  Notice the word “safely” in the phrase.  This means that a wise man can confidently and wisely put his trust in his wife if the wife is virtuous.  This trust is well placed.  He has “no need of spoil”.  This means that she contributes to the home in such a way that it helps him in his provision for the family.  They are working together to support the needs of the family.

Verse 12 describes this woman as the kind of person that will be faithful for a lifetime.  Her character and reputation warrant trust, and create an expectation that she will do good and not evil to her husband.  How does someone gain this kind of trust?  Years of faithfulness and loyalty to a person leads to the expectation that what has happened in the past will go on into the future.

Application:

To summarize in a way that applies to us, how is commitment expressed by a person of virtue?

1.  Trust with matters of the heart- intimacy. (v. 11a) 

A virtuous person is careful with the heart of their spouse.  They can trust that what is said in private confidence will not be made public. They are open to listen and respond to the heart of their spouse.  This produces an intimacy both physically and emotionally.

2.  Trust with matters of the home- stewardship. (v. 11b)

The stewardship of the resources of home leads to trust.  If a spouse cannot trust the other with their stuff, or their spending, this creates a problem for intimacy (#1) and longevity (#3).

3.  Trust that grows over a lifetime- longevity. (v.12)

Marriage is a lifelong commitment that is expressed every day in matters large and small.  Trust is built over time as loyalty and faithfulness are expressed in a multitude of ways. 

One cannot be called wise or virtuous if they are not committed in matters of intimacy and stewardship for the full longevity of the lifetime of their spouse.  If the person you are most committed to cannot trust you, then no one can.

Response:

  • As you think through these 3 areas of intimacy, stewardship, and longevity, how are you doing with your spouse?  Where can you grow?
  • If you don’t have a spouse now, are you growing as the kind of person that could make that kind of commitment?  Where can you grow?

The Value of a Virtuous Woman- Proverbs- Week 11- Day 1

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:10

Explanation

This week’s passage is on the theme of a virtuous woman. The author, King Lemuel, wrote about this virtuous woman in the form of a poem. It was written acrostically in the Hebrew, meaning that each line of the poem starts with each corresponding letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Earlier in Proverbs wisdom itself was personified by a woman who spoke to the reader. There are some who argue that wisdom the personified woman, and this woman are one and the same.  If they are not intended to be the same woman, King Lemuel really does put into vivid detail what a wife who is virtuous looks like.

Theo poem starts out in verse 10 with a question. “Who can find a virtuous woman?”  The point is being made in the question that this kind of person is rare. The answer to the question that the author expects would be, “Almost no one can find her.”  We know this because of the second half of the verse. Her value is compared to rubies.  Have you seen a ruby laying with another half dozen rubies on the sidewalk?  Of course not. If you see a ruby every day it is only because you or someone in your life owns and wears one. They are not that common.  But the writer here makes the claim that a virtuous woman is more rare than even a ruby because he says that the price or the value of a virtuous woman is “far above” rubies. In the world of gems scarcity and beauty bring value. This is the observation that begins the poem.  The value of the virtuous woman is incredibly high.

Over the next few verses, the virtuous woman is described in detail. Her character and behavior reveal why she is so valuable.

Application

Several things come to mind as I read these verses.

1. People have a say in their own value.

As you will see in the coming verses, the virtuous woman is intentional about her life. She has grown into someone of full maturity that is “looking well to her ways”.  She is someone who obviously cares to learn and grow, and as she does, her value to those around her goes up. We can be intentional about our own growth and virtue.  God has given us everything we need to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have his Word, His Spirit, and therefore His wisdom to help us to grow daily.

2. We ought to value virtue in other people.

It may seem obvious, but the woman her is described as virtuous.  She is full of virtue. What is virtue?  According to Webster’s dictionary virtue is, “Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law.” This foundation of virtue leads to a life of productivity beyond mere efficiency. Truly virtuous people are effective. Their virtue leads to their effectiveness.

3. We ought to praise others for their virtue.

If there is anything that ought to be encouraged in those around us it should be their virtue.  We praise talent, ability, and beauty, and this is not objectively wrong. But virtue is what counts. Virtue is rare. So when we see it, we should encourage it in the lives of others.

Response

  • Are you a virtuous person?
  • What do you value most in your spouse? Your best friend? Your family members?
  • How can you encourage virtue in yourself and those around you today?

Rebellion and Destruction- Proverbs- Week 10- Day 5

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 29:18

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

Proverbs 29:20

Explanation:
The passage we have considering this week, Proverbs 29:1-3 and 12-20, has had the theme of discipline. The first pattern we pointed out in the passage was the theme of leadership and discipline. Good leaders are self-disciplined and they bring discipline to those in their stewardship. That led us to a second pattern of discipline and blessing. The right kind of discipline brings freedom and not bondage. This pattern leads us to a third, the pattern of rebellion and destruction that we looked at yesterday. We can continue to see this pattern in today’s text.

In the first part of verse 18 we see an oft quoted statement. The word translated “vision” hear is speaking about revelation from God. Where there is no special revelation from God present the result is death. Why would there be no revelation from God? In one sense it may be an evangelism problem. The Word of God has not been taken to a group of people. In another sense it may be a leadership problem. There may be no Word of God because it is not being proclaimed by leaders. If it is not being proclaimed then it is not being obeyed. When revelation from God is ignored and disobeyed the result is death. Rebellion leads to destruction.

The man discussed in verse 20 is not called a fool. Even a wise person who speaks too quickly will come to the same result as the fool. The book of Proverbs consistently describes the results of the fool as destruction. How do we speak too quickly? We speak before we have thought through a matter biblically. We speak before we bathe a matter in prayer. We speak before we have all of the information that is needed to give an answer. In this there is disobedience and maybe even rebellion. Both have consequences. Rebellion leads to destruction.

Application:
Our thinking, speaking and acting must be informed by the wisdom contained in the Word of God. Our actions must be borne out of of a life of prayer. The opposite of rebellion is submission. Discipline is the consistent submission of our hearts and lives to the God who created us and redeemed us. We who know Christ as our Savior have been bought twice, and so we must embrace a life of discipline as a reasonable response to His grace.

There is a pattern of leadership and discipline, discipline and blessing, and rebellion and destruction. Make the decision to embrace discipline!

Response:
• How is your living and leadership being informed and affected by God’s revelation in His Word?
• Think about the last 24 hours. Have you been disciplined in your words? Are you speaking hastily?