I was at a wedding recently and a guy used this line on me: “I’m trying to find Mary so that we can make Jesus. Are you Mary?” Whilst I applaud him for shooting his shot, I really hope that’s not a line he’ll be reusing. Nevertheless, I assume Mary was a metaphor for the ideal woman; after all, God wouldn’t just choose anyone to be the mother of the Messiah.
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)
The Virtuous Wife
A woman that personifies Proverbs 31 is the embodiment of ‘wifey material.’ Verses 10-31 are a comprehensive list of the qualities that will bring joy to your husband. In fact, a man that is Spirit-led wouldn’t settle for anything less. Since these traits won’t magically appear when you say ‘I do’, it’s important that you work towards becoming this woman in singleness and courtship.
Looking at each verse in turn would prove for a rather lengthy blog; therefore, I’ve selected some of my favourite qualities. BUT do read the passage in full!
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (v30)
This verse is a stark reminder that beauty isn’t everything. I’m sure you’re flattered when your beauty is acknowledged… but when was the last time a guy complimented you on your spirituality? Your beauty isn’t what will sustain you as you weather the storms of marriage. True Beauty – the beauty of character – is only found in those who fear the Lord. The Bible has SO much to say (explicitly and implicitly) about what it means to ‘fear’ the Lord; suffice it to say, simply attending church doesn’t cut it. Neither does reading your Bible and praying just because you ‘should.’ A Proverbs 31 woman seeks God willingly and relentlessly because spiritual growth is a priority for her. In other words, she is praised because she’s a woman after His own heart.
Are you investing in your spiritual life as much as you are in your appearance? Whilst fearing the Lord is cheaper than keeping up-to-date with the latest trends or makeup brands, neglecting to do so is costly.
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” (v26)
Imagine a woman who doesn’t have time for gossip or pettiness. A woman who is aware that her words can tear down or uplift (Proverbs 18:21). That woman should be you. Sometimes, I speak without considering the impact of my words… but it’s too late. I can’t take them back. As much as this verse applies to how you should communicate with others, it also applies to you. Be kind to yourself. It’s ironic that I take every opportunity to speak life into friends that are riddled with negative self-talk, but I fail to take my own advice. Words have power. A woman that is in the habit of using her power responsibly will be a blessing to her husband, particularly when it comes to acknowledging his shortcomings.
Wise people aren’t impulsive; they tend to do a lot more thinking than talking. When in doubt about whether you should or shouldn’t say something, err on the side of caution.
“She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.” (v20)
Have you ever experienced the difference between someone giving you their leftovers versus someone giving you a sacrifice? I’m not suggesting giving the homeless person on the street an assortment of loose change isn’t appreciated, but I am saying you could give more if you wanted to. Whether it’s talking to them, or thinking about how to serve them, in both cases, you are choosing to give them the most valuable currency: time. A Proverbs 31 woman wouldn’t do the bare minimum, neither would she wait to be reminded to help those in need. Most of my thoughts regarding charity have been expressed in Pity Is Positive and Steward of Income. Unsurprisingly, this verse suggests that a Proverbs 31 woman takes pride in doing the things I mentioned in both blogs.
Be the kind of person that takes the initiative in extending help and reaching out, be it financially or otherwise.
“She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.” (v15)
Although I start my days at 3/4am, I assure you it’s not because I’m cooking! I like the fact she could have delegated this duty to her maidservants, but instead she provides food for them. Whilst it’s easy to complain that ‘there aren’t enough hours in a day,’ you must also consider whether or not you’re maximising your hours. Procrastination and laziness are the enemies of efficient time management. However, discipline also includes not being afraid to say ‘no’ so you don’t spread yourself too thinly. Personally, I’m partial to a timed schedule to ensure I’m on track of everything that needs to be done for the day/week. Whilst a schedule might not be for you, do ensure you’re organised. Running a successful household (without maidservants!) won’t be easy – minimise the shock to your system by exerting discipline now.
As much as you might enjoy the adrenaline rush of leaving things to the last minute, how much more could you accomplish if you started your tasks sooner?
“She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (v12)
This is another one of those verses that made me laugh! ALL the days? There’s not even one day where I can be evil to him? In all seriousness, despite how much he may annoy me, this is a challenge that I would love to rise to. Speaking wisely and kindly [point 2] is incredibly relevant here because we tend to be most evil with our words. A woman that is committed to a 1 Corinthians 13 type of love simply can’t consider doing him evil. It’s important to note that ‘doing evil’ is defined by God. In essence, if your husband asks you to do something bad because he sees it as good (and for whatever reason, you also seem to agree), then that is not a reason for you to go ahead. Your love for him should never lead you to disobey God… unlike the wives in Authorised Stupidity. Although there may be times where he misinterprets your good as evil – do it anyway!
Don’t react in the moment if it will cause you to do evil. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to step away from the situation and return when you’re more calm.
The Unvirtuous Wife
The previous section mentions just five of the many qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman. If reading that list has you feeling exhausted rather than inspired, don’t worry. There’s hope for unvirtuous women! You can have a bog-standard spiritual life, be unkind, relatively selfish, undisciplined, or lowkey evil and STILL get married. I’m not sure why any of those qualities would be appealing to a guy, but perhaps he was won over by something else. The point I’m trying to make is that plenty of men don’t require a Proverbs 31 woman. In fact, as long as he’s attracted to you and you have chemistry, he might be willing to gloss over the other things. A guy that is happy with an unvirtuous woman is usually content because he’s found a kindred spirit. Do you really want to be with someone that accepts less than your best? Whilst you don’t have to be the finished article when you meet meet him, make sure he’s someone that’ll help you reach your potential rather than stunt your growth.
The company you keep impacts your Proverbs 31 trajectory.
If you have Christian friends that are also pursuing the biblical benchmark for the ideal woman, you can encourage each other as you strive for the goal. However, associating yourself with friends that are dismissive of Proverbs 31 qualities is likely to have a negative effect on you. Over time, some may convince you that what you’re aiming for is ‘too much’ or ‘unessential,’ especially if they’re in happy relationships regardless of unvirtuous traits. Alternatively, if you judge your ‘Proverbs 31-ness’ according to their actions, you may see little need to keep improving because, by comparison, you’re ‘better’ than them. However, please remember that the Bible is your standard – not the actions of others. Of course, it’s entirely possible to remain focused on your goals even if they differ from those of your friends. However, the value of surrounding yourself with like-minded women cannot be overstated.
Irrespective of marital status, the blueprint for the ideal woman is clear. In fact, this is probably the kind of woman Mary would have been. Whilst some men regard unvirtuous women as rubies, the Proverbs 31 pedigree is unmatched.