“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies” -Prov. 31:10
If you’re like me, Proverbs chapter 31 intimidates you. The woman described here is Wonder Woman, Mother Theresa, and Betty Crocker all rolled into one dynamic ball of business acumen and abundant energy.
I’m going to spend the next five weeks exploring the various roles this woman plays and try to bring her super-hero powers and saintly status into the realm of accessible. I don’t believe God included this description to shame every woman on the planet. Instead, she is an exceptional role model.
Merriam-Webster tells me that virtuous is an adjective meaning 1) Potent, efficacious (effective); 2) having or exhibiting virtue; morally excellent; 3) chaste. Perhaps that first definition surprised you a little.
In the Amplified Bible, Proverbs 31:10 begins “A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman.” This woman holds to a high moral character, but there is more to her than just being “Miss Goody Two-Shoes.”
Anyone expected to accomplish the list of feats this woman manages in a day must certainly be capable and industrious. Sure, she “rises while it is yet night” (31:15), but she still has the same 24 hours in a day to accomplish her “to do” list.
When we take the magnifying glass to this woman’s business acumen, her intelligence will become all too apparent.
Don’t let anyone convince you that this woman’s morality elevated her to the position of virtuous. If she couldn’t plan the work and then work her plan, she’d be just another Martha Stewart wanna-be.
What Makes a Mother?
This mom gets up early and takes care of the needs of her family (31:15). She isn’t the last one to rise and she doesn’t force her kids to scrounge around the kitchen for food to eat.
“Bring it on,” says this mega-mom. She knows that she’s prepared her house for winter (31:21). Her kids have new shoes before she does (*sigh* this is such a sacrifice) and they won’t bring reproach on her husband because of what they’re wearing around town.
Mom’s first priority is family and home. “She looketh well to the ways of her household” (31:27a). The house gets cleaned before she goes shopping with her friends. Her husband’s shirts get ironed and starched before she throws her dress back in the dryer to get rid of the wrinkles. Those kids have clean clothes to wear, hot food to eat and someone to nag them about homework, assign them chores and give them a kiss a bedtime.
“(She) eateth not the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:27b). In fact, there are days she doesn’t sit down to eat at all. She nibbles a banana while she drives the kids to school, gulps a sandwich while cleaning the kitchen at noon and scrapes a few forkfuls off her plate at dinnertime. There are not enough hours in a day to accomplish all she wants to do in order to care for her family.
In the Amplified Bible, the word idleness is explained further to mean gossip, discontent and self-pity. I know I spent a few years in the “poor me” boat when my kids were under the age of five. It’s safe to say I was no one’s virtuous mother at that point in time.
If she doesn’t drop from exhaustion, there’s a payoff for Super Mom. “Her children arise up and call her blessed” (Prov. 31:28a). I’m still waiting for the day they actually say the words, but watching them live according to the principles they were taught them brings enough joy to say, “It was worth it.”
**This post first appeared on May 13, 2013. This is its second republishing on this blog.
What do you think makes a virtuous mother?