Grandma and Mom – Two Women who Fear the Lord

1426498_10202838227108346_1981690015278992369_n10012768_10203046503875135_8799673388510302518_o

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30

If we take a minute or two and watch commercials on TV, we see how enamored our society is with charm and beauty.  The men and women portrayed in commercials and on most regular TV programs have been touched up and wear the perfect clothes, have perfect hair, and wear the perfect make-up.  Yet who decided what was perfect?  Where did we get this ideal?

Men and women looking for spouses have fallen for the same trap of looking for charm and beauty.  Too often we set ourselves up for defeat, looking for Prince Charming or waiting for a prince to invite us to the ball.  We sit at home pining for a prince, hoping for the magical invitation, and the magical dance only to be filled with disappointment when none of this occurs.

Rather than looking, we should focus on being.  If a man looks for a woman that is only charming and beautiful, but does not take the time to really evaluate her character, the charm and beauty becomes an illusion when the reality of life hits the newlyweds square in the face.   When the woman has won her man, she no longer has to be charming and her true character is revealed.  Instead of a charming woman with an attitude of graciousness, the mask of deceit is removed and the true woman is revealed.  Her charm was a facade that was only used to win the heart of her husband.  Her true character is revealed when the laundry needs done, meals need to be made, or children need to be cared for.  When old age hits and that beautiful and voluptuous body the man was drawn to becomes saggy and wrinkly, will he beat a hasty retreat because that is not what he signed up for?  Or will they spend thousands on cosmetic surgery so she can keep her girlish figure and looks even at the age of sixty?

So if a man is not to be wooed by a woman’s charm and beauty, what should he be looking for? A woman who fears the Lord.  This woman may be attractive, gracious, and charming; but at the root of her character is the fear of the Lord.”  What does this look like?

  1. What does she talk about? Superficial things that have no value tomorrow.  Or the things of the Lord-what she learned in her devotions or what God is teaching her?
  2. What does she do? Is she looking to be entertained or does she look for opportunities of service?  Is she lazing about or serving her family and “reaching her hands to the poor?” Proverbs 31:20).
  3. Who or what does she care about? This is seen by her actions.  Is she a drama queen looking for attention for herself or is she “opening her hands to the poor?” (Proverbs 31:20).  Is she known for her compassion for others or is she looking for ways to take advantage of someone or of a situation?  What are her true motives?

Solomon in his musings in the twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes finally came to the conclusion that “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).  Where is our search in becoming the virtuous woman?  Are we seeking to “fear God and keep His commandments” or are we seeking to fulfill our own selfish desires through our charm and beauty?  In the end “every secret thing God will judge.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:14).  “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30).

Questions:

  1. There is a lot of discussion about our outward appearances. God made women beautiful and appealing to men.  However, He wants us to remember that our true character does not fade.  How does I Timothy 2:9, 10 relate to this concept?
  1. Read Psalm 115:13. What is the promise?
  1. Read Proverbs 2:5. What will you gain?
  1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:13. What is our duty?
  1. Are there any other verses you can think of that relate to the “fear of the Lord?”
  1. What does “the fear of the Lord” mean to you?
  1. How do we acquire “the fear of the Lord?”
  1. Read Daniel 6. What was the most important thing to Daniel?  Can the same be said about you?
Advertisements

Excellence!

“Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:29

Growing up in a competitive family, I still want to be first.  It does not matter what the contest is, I want to win.  Unfortunately, now that I am getting older there are things in life that the young whippersnappers do better than I.  My daughters like to play a game called Brain Wars, and they do better than I do on many of the games.  My memory and my speed is just not what it once was.  It is frustrating to get old sometimes.  No matter how many times they beat me, I am still hopeful when I play the game the next time that I am going to beat them. Optimistic, I guess.

The virtuous woman does not try to be the first or the best virtuous woman.  She just is.  She does not focus on winning the prize for “Most Virtuous Woman” rather she focuses on being a virtuous woman and the first prize is awarded due to her focus on the right things.

This verse is the only one written in the second person, “You surpass them all.”  This is the virtuous woman’s husband speaking her praises.  King Lemuel’s mother taught him the things he needed or did not need as a King.

The first nine verses focus on:

  • Women can destroy a man/king
  • Alcohol causes men/kings to make poor choices
  • Pay attention and care for the poor, needy, and destitute
  • Judge righteously

Following these first nine verses in Proverbs 31 are verses 10-31 which focus on the virtuous woman and give King Lemuel more specific detail on the woman that will not destroy him, but rather will help him be the best king he can be.

If we try to think of examples of virtuous women, I am sure at least one woman comes to mind.  The only woman in the Bible to be called a virtuous woman is Ruth, and she was not even an Israelite. “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requires for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” (Ruth 3:11).  Not only did Boaz tell Ruth that she was a virtuous woman, but also all the townspeople knew as well.  Ruth did not leave her homeland and her family hoping to be a virtuous woman.  She left her homeland and family and followed Naomi because she was a virtuous woman.  She did not gather grain in the field for Naomi and herself because she was hoping to be a virtuous woman, rather she helped take care of her mother-in-law because she was a virtuous woman.  Being virtuous is not something we can put on like a sweater.  It is something that comes from within, it pours out through our lives to the individuals we rub shoulders with, laugh with, cry with, and live life with.  If Ruth had not been virtuous, she would not have attracted Boaz and lived a biblical fairy tale.  If Ruth’s character had been something she put on like a sweater, Boaz would have seen right through it and though he may have made sure she had grain to eat, he would not have wanted to make her a part of his family, part of the Israelite family, and part of the lineage of Christ.

It is not the striving to win the race that makes a virtuous woman who she is.  It is a striving to be the Biblical woman God has called us to be.  The word virtuous, chayil, not only means virtuous in its original Hebrew context, but also it means wealth, army, host, and men of valor.  A virtuous woman is like an army of men or a man of valor.  This should not be overwhelming if we are focused on being who God wants us to be rather than putting our character on as an external garment.  We will be the best, but the being the best does not matter to the virtuous woman.  Properly caring for her home, husband, and family makes her the best.  We may never win the prize “Most Virtuous Woman.”  Although some day when we stand before God, if we made every effort from our hearts to be virtuous, God will see this and reward us with a far greater prize than we would have ever received on earth.  We will be rewarded with a crown to lay at His feet.

Questions:

  1. Read Ruth 2:1 and Ruth 3:11 and find the descriptive word concerning Boaz and Ruth that is the same.
  1. It is amazing to me that this couple is described in the same way. List some things from both Boaz’s and Ruth’s lives that made them virtuous.
  1. In the list that you wrote down regarding Ruth and Boaz, what qualities do you have? What qualities are you lacking?
  1. Why are the traits listed above from Proverbs 31:1-9 important for a King to possess?
  1. Are these qualities that are listed for the king, qualities that the virtuous woman should possess?
  1. What amazes you about the definition of virtuous?

Are you Shining?

IMG_3319

“Her children rise up and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her.”

Proverbs 31:28

St. Augustine’s mom, Monica, did much behind the scenes to help her son to become an icon in church history.  Monica grew up in a Christian home, but her parents arranged her marriage with an unbeliever, Patricius.  Patricius was not only an unbeliever, but also did not believe in the high values of marriage and family.  He had a violent temper and was unfaithful to Monica.  Monica spent many hours in prayer for her family, her three children and her husband.  Many sources say that this annoyed Patricius, but at the same time he also held her in high regard.

Although Monica spent countless hours in prayer for her children, Augustine did not initially follow the path that his mother prayed he would follow.  She did not give up or “become weary in well-doing.” (Galatians 6:9), but rather continued to spend countless hours in prayer and sought to meet the needs of the poor.  Through her tireless example, Augustine finally turned from his ways and began following Christ as a true believer.  Monica died six months later with the satisfaction of knowing that not only did Augustine accept Christ as His personal Savior but also her husband, on his death bed, had also made a profession of faith in Christ.

Augustine was an early Christian theologian and philosopher and is a well-known church father with writings entitled City of God and Confessions. All that we know about Monica is due to Augustine’s extensive writing about his mother.  “He rose up and called her blessed.”  Even though Monica’s husband was an unbeliever for his entire life, he still had great respect for his wife.  Monica chose to  live by I Peter 3:1, 2 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”  Since she chose to live her life this way Patricius and Augustine “called her blessed and praised her.”

Living every day as the virtuous woman is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart.  It takes discipline and a huge dose of self-denial.  As humans in this day and age we have become such a self-centered society that to deny ourselves anything, especially something we feel we need, is a difficult pill to swallow.  This self-centeredness has hit the church just as much as it has hit the rest of society.

As always there is a certain measure of balance that needs to take place. The wife should not abdicate her responsibilities to her husband or children because she is sleeping in, getting her hair and nails done, going shopping, or to card club. She should make sure the needs of her family are anticipated and cared for.  We are examples to our children, and the kind of wife and mother we are will surely be exemplified in our daughters and possibly the kind of wives our sons will choose.  What kind of mom do we want for our grandchildren?

The words rise up means to confirm.  In rising up and praising their mom, the children are confirming that their mom is providing the care and direction they need in life. Calling her blessed means to be straight, lead, or guide.  Another way we could look at this phrase is “Her children confirm that their mom is leading and guiding them in a straight path.”  What a compliment that is to the virtuous mother.  Not only do her children walk the straight path, but they also confirm that their mom has not only lived this path, but also taught them how to follow this path.

Her husband praises which means to celebrates or commend his wife.  Another great compliment is to have our husbands celebrate us.  Monica had no greater joy on her death bed knowing her husband and son were following Christ.  Her influence had a large impact on them not because she verbally preached at them every day, but because she lived out the Bible in front of them every day.  They saw her strengths and weaknesses, her good days and bad and yet she was a shining testimony to them.  May we all shine into the lives of our families by not just what we say, but also by what we do.

Questions:

  1. Is it easy to deny yourself?
  1. Read Philippians 2:1-4. How do these verses apply to denying ourselves?
  1. Read Proverbs 11:6. Describe in practical terms in your own life how this verse applies.
  1. Read Proverbs 12:4. Compare the two contrasting thoughts in this verse by giving practical examples.
  1. How does Exodus 20:5, 6 apply to this verse? Have you seen your own negative qualities manifest themselves in your children?  Have you seen positive qualities in your children?

Attention to Detail

080812_194111

“She looks well to the way of her household,

And does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Proverbs 31:27

Attention to detail.  One Sunday Steve Jobs called Vic Gundotra, the man behind    Google +.  Vic was at church and did not answer his phone.  He called Steve back immediately knowing a phone call on a Sunday from Steve was an urgent matter.  Steve told Vic that the reason for his call was that he did not like the shade of yellow in the second “O” on the Google page.  This may seem unimportant to us, but the fact that the man who raised Apple to its status as the world premier technology company means it must be important to pay attention to details, even the shade of a yellow “O” on a Sunday.

Attention to detail.  Our virtuous woman looks well.  This word has many nuances.  It means to lean forward, peer into the distance, observe, espy, or a watchman.  Espy means to see or notice something.  There is no time to be idle if we are paying attention to the details of our families.  There are six different areas that we as Moms and woman should focus on. I mention our children in each of these, but our husbands need the same kind of attention in their lives so we can also meet their needs. This would be another lesson – looking to the needs of our husbands.  The point of this lesson is we must pay attention to the details in the lives of those we love.

  1. Attention to detail. Our children and those around us need constant spiritual training and teaching.  As we are preparing our children for life, we must be observant to the spiritual needs they have and teach to those needs.  “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  (Deuteronomy 6:7).  Each of our children has different spiritual needs and battles.  As we observe their behavior, we must have open lines of communication with them so we can provide teaching and training to correct a behavior.  If we do not closely observe their hearts and their actions, they will have character flaws that are easily trained out of them at an early age, but more difficult the older they get.  Since Delaney was my baby I had a tendency to spoil her.  Ask my other two daughters and they will readily agree.  I began to notice things in her character that would not serve her well in the days to come.  Spiritual teaching and training have taken place since then.  In order to notice these flaws in our children we must be paying close attention to the details in their character in order to teach Scriptural truths that are applicable to their lives.
  1. Attention to detail. Physical needs are also extremely important.  They need food, clothes, and shelter, and also attention to their health.  It is our job to provide for their food needs and be sure that when they are hungry we have meals and appropriate snacks for them.  As the mother of daughters, attention to dress is challenging.  If I do not approve of an outfit I will not buy it or allow any of my daughters to buy it.  If they have bought something that I do not approve of when they are not with me, I will buy them something else to replace the item so they understand how important modesty is in our dress.
  1. Attention to detail. I also try to provide an atmosphere in our home that is conducive for life.  Home needs to be a safe place.  So attention to this is also important.  What do they need in order to feel safe and secure in our home.  In relation to their health, if they seem to be getting worn down or beginning to get sick, I help them adjust their schedule so they can get extra rest and whatever else they may need to prevent illness.
  1. Attention to detail. Emotional needs vary from day-to-day.  The more in tune to our children we are, the better we will do at anticipating the emotional needs they may have.  Some days they may need more words of encouragement than normal.  I must come up with creative ways to provide them this support.  Other days, they need to pull themselves up by their boot straps and overcome the emotional battle they are dealing with.  If I am not paying attention to these details and the needs in their lives I will miss a valuable opportunity to teach, train, or provide encouragement.  Sometimes we must get over ourselves and our needs to better assist our children in theirs.  The investment and sacrifice is always worth it.
  1. Attention to detail. There are also mental needs as they learn various things in school.  We must be students of our children and understand our child’s learning style in order to help them learn what they need for life.
  1. Attention to detail. There is no time for idleness and laziness if we are “looking well to the ways of our household.”  Someone always has a need and we must be instrumental in meeting that need, even if it is teaching our children how to meet their own needs and praying them through the process.  We must also be examples in this arena.  Children must learn how to cope with various situations that come up.  By paying attention to our own lives, we can then teach our children how we cope.  We must be purposeful and prayerful in our attention to detail.

Questions:

  1. What must you do in order to pay attention to the details in your family’s life?
  1. Sometimes we get so caught up in meeting our own needs, we cannot even meet the needs of others. Read Matthew 10:8 and Acts 20:35.  What conclusion should we draw here?
  1. Read Philippians 2:3-8. Where should we get this selfless attitude?
  1. If we are always “looking out for the interests of others,” should we not ever take time for ourselves? Think of some Biblical examples that demonstrate how important our own well-being is.