Whistle While You Work

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“She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.”

(Proverbs 31:13)

 I love to work.  While growing up, there was always work to do.  We had a large garden and yard, so there was always mowing, weeding, bean picking, corn shucking, house cleaning, etc.  I definitely receive a greater sense of satisfaction now when a task is completed than I did back then.  Growing up, I think I tried to get out of work more than I tried to accomplish it.

“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” (Proverbs 31:13)  Most women today do not have sheep and a field of flax that they tend in order to provide clothing for their families. The concepts behind this verse still ring true in modern day women and should not be dismissed as an antiquated verse.

A little bit of explanation of the words here will provide a background for us to present a framework for our present day application.  The sheep were shorn in the spring and the wool was used to make warm outer garments for the members of this wise women’s household.  Since they were shorn in the spring she had all summer to process the wool and make the garments for her family for the winter to come.  She planned ahead.

The flax was harvested at different times for different purposes and uses in the home.  Soon after the flax flowered, it was harvested and used to make soft fabric, linen, that would provide a nice set of clothing fit for aristocracy.  The longer the flax was left in the field the stronger the stalks became and when harvested they would be used to make things such as ropes and mats.  The seeds would also be used to make flax oil, which has many health benefits.  This again shows how she planned ahead and looked for ways to provide for the health and well-being of her family.

Seeks, works, and willing all give us a clue as to her character.  As she seeks the wool and flax she is searching, examining, and caring about the best for her family.  Work.  This fine lady does not sit idly by waiting for her servants, her children, or her husband to do all of the household chores.  This does not mean that she is super women and does it all, but through the process of working she is teaching and training the next generation of wives, her daughters, how to work.

The word willing in its original Hebrew means great delight and pleasure.  This woman is not bitter as she works, but rather finds great pleasure and delight in the work she does that will provide for the needs of her family.  While growing up, my mom sang as she worked.  I cannot remember what she was singing, but she was singing as she vacuumed or dusted or whatever needed to be done to care for our family.  Sometimes the radio was playing and she would sing along and sometimes it was a capella, singing the songs the Lord laid on her heart.

What can we learn as modern day women and wives from this old fashioned verse?

  1. As women, we need to plan ahead for the needs of our families. There are many trips we have taken as a family in which I have planned food we can eat on the road or at a hotel, so we do not have to spend money on unhealthy fast food.  Flying by the seat of our pants as moms can be unnerving for our children as they never know what to expect.
  2. As women we must be diligent in our work. If we expect our children to be diligent in a task, we must first teach them by our willing example.  Be a hard worker, not an example of laziness.
  3. Do your work with a song on your lips. We may not actually be singing as we work, but our attitude should be one of pleasure and delight.  Even cleaning the toilets or scrubbing the floors can be a pleasurable task if we have the proper attitude.

Remember the choices we make today, even our attitude while completing an unpleasant task, will set up the attitudes our children will have about the chores we give them to do in the future.  We cannot expect our children or others we are around to have better attitudes than we do.  Plan today to whistle while you work.

Questions:

  1. Do you seek out the work that needs to be done, or do you hide from it hoping it will not find you?
  1. Read Proverbs 6:6-8. What are the positive qualities and the negative qualities mentioned here about work?
  1. Do you seek criticism in your life? Genuine constructive criticism?  If not, you need to.  Ask someone close to you whether they think you are a hard worker, always willing to work, or if you are a dictator always looking for ways to get out of work.  If you do not want to hear the answer, do not ask the question.  If you do not want to ask the question, then you already know the answer.  Ask someone close to you whether they think you are industrious and work hard?  Ask them to give you evidences of either thing.  Do not be angry with them about the answer.
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A Good and Generous Choice

Summer 2010 017

“She does him good,

and not harm all the days of her life.”

(Proverbs 31:12)

Marriage is difficult and not always a bed of roses with a cherry on top.  We all know why marriage is difficult…life is difficult and when two selfish people come together in a world filled with challenges it makes marriage difficult.  Selfishness does not breed happiness and contentment.  Neither do preconceived notions about living the life of Cinderella and Prince Charming seem to work in most marriages.  In this world full of sin, I understand men abandon their families, abuse their families, and cause undue pain in their families.  The focus in Proverbs 31:12 is not how the man treats his wife, but rather how the wife treats her husband.  Despite overwhelming difficult circumstances, a wife of noble character can change the course of her home.

Let’s look at a story from the Old Testament that shows a woman of noble character and her foolish husband.  Abigail was married to Nabal, a wealthy landowner. (I Samuel 25).  He owned three thousand sheep and a thousand goats.  Abigail’s name means “the joy of her father.”  It is unknown whether this man’s given name was Nabal or if he earned the name because of his character.  Nabal means foolish or boorish.

The story goes that it was the time of the sheep shearing and David, not yet the crowned king of Israel, sent ten of his men to Nabal to ask for provisions for David and his men.  David felt he could ask for these provisions since he and his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and his sheep and goats while they were out in the field from predators, both animals and humans.  Nabal’s response was not one of kind appreciation, but instead gives another clue into why his name was Nabal.  “Who is David?  Who is the son of Jesse?  There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters.  Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?”       (I Samuel 25:9-11).

When the report came back to David, he told all of his men to strap on their swords.  Four hundred men were going to go with David and two hundred men were going to stay behind with their possessions.  Abigail, Nabal’s wife, also received the same report along with a report of all that David and his men had done for the shepherds while they were out keeping the sheep.  At once Abigail gathered together two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already prepared, five seahs of parched grain, a hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. (I Samuel 25:18).

As David and his men came toward Nabal’s home, Abigail went to David.  As David was headed towards Nabal he said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good.  God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave as much as one male of all who belong to him.” (I Samuel 25:21, 22).

When Abigail reached David, she got down from her donkey and fell face down on the ground before David and asked David to not regard “this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him.”  (I Samuel 25:25).  So Abigail gave David all the provisions she had brought for him and his men, and David blessed Abigail for her discretion in protecting him from shedding innocent blood.

When Abigail returned from her meeting with David, Nabal was holding a feast like a king and was very drunk.  In the morning, Abigail told Nabal all that she had done and “his heart died within him, and he became as a stone and ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.” (I Samuel 25:37, 38)

“She does him good, and not harm all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12).  Abigail not only protected her household, but also the reputation of David and his men.  Abigail was prepared to meet the needs of David and his men, and she did so humbly and respectfully.  Abigail did not have to go to such measures to do good to her husband, yet she had lived with this foolish man for years and her reputation was not one of sullen bitterness, but rather of discernment, humility, respect, and discretion.

As a woman, what characteristics do we want remembered about us?  Despite difficult circumstances, what will shine through other’s memories about us?  My Grandma passed away a recently, and I was talking with someone who knew Grandma but not that she had died.  After expressing her condolences she shared with me the things that shown through her memory of my Grandma.  “She was a godly lady with a good heart.”  That is who she was and it is a powerful legacy I have to live up to.

“She does him good, and not harm all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:12)

Questions:

  1. Read the story of Nabal and Abigail in I Samuel 25. What do you notice about Abigail’s character?  Conversely, what do you notice about Nabal’s character?
  1. Would it have done Abigail any good to be bitter and sullen over her foolish husband?
  1. Again, the analogy of a treasure vs. coal applies here. You have a choice between the coal and the treasure.  Abigail had a choice too.  Which did she choose?  Which will you choose?

You are a Treasure!

Danielle Camp 408

“The heart of her husband has full confidence in her, as a result,

he lacks nothing of value.”

(Proverbs 31:11, ISV).

As many men have gone off to war or are called upon to leave their homes and serve overseas, many of the women left behind to “tend the home fires” are forgotten, and the inconveniences they must endure while “holding down the fort” are forgotten.  Yet these men who left their homes behind do not forget what they left behind.  As we recall our humble beginnings as a nation and what it cost to become a country, seldom do we think of the “home” that was left behind by these brave soldiers.  During the Revolutionary war, many women were left at home to tend the fields, the animals, and raise the children while also watching their farms be ruined by fighting and troop movement through their land.  Thousands of families suffered hardships as their husbands and sons left for war, hoping against hope that these loves ones would return. Unfortunately, many did not.  As these men fought for an ideal, an America free from British rule, they had to have “full confidence in their wives” at home to take care of the livelihood that they had worked so diligently to establish in this new country.

What would have happened to these men and their livelihood and property if their wives did not completely support their husbands and work tirelessly to care for the fields, the animals, and their children?  What would have happened to the founding of America if the wives had their own ideas for success and it was not caring for their home?  If the wives first goal was not the home but rather their own comfort and success, could the men have gone off to war?  Or would they have felt obliged to stay home to be sure their property and family stayed intact?

How important is the wife to a successful family?  How important is the woman’s goals to the safe care and guarding of a family?  How important are the priorities of a woman to the home?

According to Proverbs 31:11, the value of a woman that can be trusted with the care of the home, the finances of the home, and the care of the children is equal to a man “that lacks nothing of value.”  A man’s wife that can be trusted is a treasure.

As wives do we consider ourselves treasures?  When our husbands can have full confidence in who we are as people do we feel like a treasure?  When the plethora of daily household tasks are successfully completed and our priorities reflect a godly woman who places God first in our lives, do we consider ourselves a treasure?  What about the many days that no one notices all we do, and when the day went by without a hitch, do we consider ourselves to be a treasure?

Lately, I have been contemplating one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22- longsuffering.  As a mom and a wife, this needs to be one of the qualities that is displayed daily in my life, but is it?  When I am short with my husband or daughters, am I longsuffering?  Longsuffering must be a part of my daily life in order to be a treasure to my family.

Can our husbands leave us in the charge of the home, knowing that his “treasure” is safely guarding all he has worked so hard for?  Or does he leave each day, and wonder what he will come home to?  Will he not be a better employee if he can “safely trust in his wife?”

I realize that this does not take into account those wives that work full-time, or those that are single, or the husband is the one that cannot be trusted.  One of the frequent axioms I say to my daughters is “we must take what we know and apply it to what we don’t know.”  How can this verse apply to your situation and make it a better situation?  You may not see the results for years, but faithfulness to Scripture provides results in our lives no matter the circumstances.

No matter who you are or what you do, consider yourself a treasure and if need be start acting like one.  Consider yourself a treasure, and rest assured that all the unnoticed tasks and sacrifices are noticed by God and His rewards are far greater than any we could receive here one earth.  Go now and be a treasure!

Questions:

  1. You are a treasure! What else does God call an excellent wife in Proverbs 12:4?
  1. No matter the surroundings, a treasure always stands out. Amidst a pile of coal, a diamond shines and sparkles.  Amidst the rocks in the bottom of a stream, gold glistens in the sun.  Why do we think that our surroundings are the cause for our character flaws?  Why are so quick to play the blame game like they did in the Garden of Eden?
  1. Life is hard, however do the people we admire ever complain about their circumstances? How many war veteran stories were written about the complainers?  No, the stories that we take courage from are from those that showed courage amidst very difficult situations.  Will you choose to be a treasure that shines or a piece of coal that grouses about the difficulties in life?

You Are Valuable!

RUBY

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

Proverbs 31:10

How can the value of a person be calculated?  How can we put a price on someone?  We can trace the value of a person through our American history by looking first at the slave trade and the price someone would pay to buy a slave.   The original cost of a slave was $400, which would translate to $12,000 in today’s economy.  As the demand for slaves grew, the value of them grew to about $176,000 in today’s economy.  These prices were based on the value of each individual slave and what jobs they were able to perform.

The next quantifiable measure we can evaluate, one that has been hot topic in our recent past, is the pay for minimum wage.  Under the Fair Labor Standard Act in 1938 the concept of minimum wage was introduced at a rate of $.25 per hour.  As of Sept 1, 2014, Michigan has increased their minimum wage to $8.15 per hour.  There has been much controversy over this pay hike.  In my opinion, the purpose of minimum wage is not to live on and raise a family.  It is meant for teens and others who have limited education or skill sets to earn a wage and introduce them to the concept of work and responsibility.  It hopefully encourages them to find a trade or further their education in order to earn a higher wage.  People that earn minimum wage do receive pay raises, as any other employee of a company, based on their years with the company and their job performance.

Each of these examples places a value on a person and the work they will perform and the level of expertise they bring to the employment table.  Is there really a value that can be placed on a human life?

In an effort to help us understand the value of a virtuous woman or an excellent wife, Proverbs 31:10 tells us, “Her price is far above rubies.”  At the time of the writing of this Proverb, the most valuable gem that had been discovered was a ruby.  The interesting thing about rubies is how they are made.  A ruby belongs to the same family as the sapphire, and receives its color from the element chrome.  The fascinating thing about the ruby is the very thing that makes the ruby is also what destroys the ruby.  When rubies are formed inside the earth the chrome causes it to have a multitude of fissures and cracks.  Thus the chrome not only causes the ruby to have its beautiful red color, but also what causes it to break apart.

The parallel to our lives is amazing.  If we compare the chrome to the trials and various circumstances in our lives, these events will either give us a rich character or we will fall apart and have no value for the kingdom of God.  We are all defined by our character, but it is the circumstances behind our character that have helped to mold us into who we are as individuals.

What have you done with the circumstances of life?  Have you allowed them to make you bitter, or is there a depth of character that has a value “far above rubies?”  As we continue to study Proverbs 31, we will see other qualities that will add even more to our character.

You are valuable!

Questions:

  1. The ruby is made amidst distress and hardship, yet it comes forth as a valuable gem. How can you be like the ruby?  What have the difficult times in your life produced in your heart?  Are they negative or positive?  Can you see these negative characteristics lived out in your daily life?  Can you see the positives lived out?
  1. I have struggled from deep hurt that produced bitterness, resentment, and a protective instinct. God in His grace has taken 10 years of pain, bitterness, resentment, and self-protection and replaced it with overflowing love.  I can take no glory in what has happened because for 10 years I sought to rid myself of these qualities.  I could not do it on my own.  Through the power of God’s Word those sins have been lifted from my heart.  What about you?  Will you let God transform your pain into something beautiful, or will you hold onto it like a badge of honor?  That badge will go up in smoke when we stand before God someday.  Let God transform that chrome into a beautiful ruby.  The joy and freedom you feel is life changing.
  1. Take the time to read the Daniel chapters 1-6. As you read, think about what took Daniel from his homeland to this foreign country.  Think about why he was there.  Think about the choice he made amidst this difficult situation.  What has happened in your life that you could choose to be bitter and resentful over?  Now think about what God can do through you if you let Him.  Will you let Him transform your heart?
  1. Read Jeremiah 17:9. What does God say about our hearts?
  1. Read I Peter 2:9. What does this verse say about who you are?
  1. What happened between Jeremiah 17:9 and I Peter 2:9?
  1. You are a princess and God is Your King. What benefits does a princess have?
  1. If you remember the story of Esther and the laws of the land at this time, what was needed in order to see the King? What is different about our relationship with the King of Kings?  Does He have to summon you to see Him?
  1. Read Hebrews 4:16 and note below how we can approach the King of Kings.
  1. We need to temper this boldness with Isaiah’s thoughts in Isaiah 6:1-7. How do we apply these two thoughts to our relationship with God?