A Virtuous Woman by Zac Poonen
Proverbs 31:10-31 describes some of the characteristics of a virtuous woman.
Her heart, hands and tongue are described as excellent. Nothing is mentioned about her physical beauty or her feminine charms, for these are declared to be worthless and deceptive (v. 30). It would be an excellent thing if all women and young girls, and especially young men considering marriage, realised this fact.
The virtuous woman described here, has a heart that fears God (v. 30). This is the foundation for her whole life. She works with her hands, stitching clothes, cooking meals, planting trees and helping the poor (v. 13-22). She uses her tongue at all times with kindness and wisdom (v. 26). She is God-fearing, hard-working and kind – even if she is not beautiful. The glory of God is manifested through her pure heart, rough hands and soft tongue. (Worldly women, in contrast, have an impure heart, soft hands and a rough tongue!). It is in these areas that God looks for women today to manifest His glory.
As a wife, this virtuous woman is a true helper to her husband. She does him good consistently till the end of her life – not in fits and starts (v. 12). In other words, she never loses her first love for him. She also adjusts herself to his profession and calling in life, supplementing his income with her own quiet labours at home, being thrifty and careful in expenditure, so that no money is wasted. She relieves her husband of home responsibilities, so that he can have a ministry in the land for the Lord (v. 23-27). No wonder her husband praises her saying that of all the women in the world (including women prime ministers and women preachers), she is the best of the lot (v. 29). Such a woman certainly deserves to be praised publicly too (v. 31), for she has understood the glory of her calling as a woman.
The New Testament places great emphasis on ‘serving the saints’ in our homes. “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay in the night. … and get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner” (1 Pet. 4:9; Rom. 12:23 – LB). Hospitality is primarily the responsibility of the wife in the home. She can receive a prophet’s reward, without ever being a prophet herself, merely by welcoming a prophet into her home (Matt. 10:41). She will be rewarded for hospitality shown to the least of Jesus’ disciples as well (Matt. 10:41). To receive an apostle into our homes is equivalent to receiving Jesus Himself (Matt. 10:40). Likewise, to receive a child in Jesus’ name is also equivalent to receiving Jesus (Matt. 18:5). What fantastic possibilities are opened up for sisters in the area of hospitality! The early Christians (to whom Paul and Peter wrote concerning hospitality), were by and large, very poor. Simple food and a place to sleep on the floor however, were all that they were asked to offer the saints. It is when believers seek the honour of men that they feel that they cannot be hospitable, until they are capable of offering rich food and grand accommodation. 1 Tim. 5:10 indicates that even poor widows in the first century, served the saints in their homes!