Due to recent conversations with friends, past discussions in Sunday school, and questions raised in the Bible study we go to, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what a Godly woman looks like. What are qualities that make a woman stand out as one whose life is sold out to God?
Proverbs 31 is the first reference that comes to mind, but to be truthful, I don’t find it all that encouraging. There I see this perfectly put together individual who never sleeps in; in fact I question whether she sleeps at all! She certainly seems to find more hours in a day than I do!
To make myself feel better, I tell myself she obviously has a nanny; for there is no mention of her caring for babies or taking them along as she’s buying her fields, planting her vineyards, sewing and selling garments, and doing whatever it is you do with a distaff. But still… am I the only one who finds her a little bit daunting?
It helped when I realized the “Proverbs 31 Woman” may not have ever existed. Some believe that King Lemuel’s mother drew this word picture as an example of the kind of woman she wanted for her son. In my opinion, she took it beyond reality, and painted a perfect woman, who we can only aspire to be like. I don’t see much humanity in this “woman of her dreams”…in fact I admit I’m picturing the stereotypical mother in law, saying in her own way that no woman will ever be good enough for her son.
Having said that, all scripture is inspired of God, so I know that God wants me to read and find edification in all of it. And there are good things to be learned from this chapter, many things we can work toward, that if achieved, will make us better women. Hard work, provision for our families’ needs, etc. My favorite is that the heart of her husband can safely trust in her. There are more, but I find more inspiration in the real women who are scattered through the pages of God’s word.
~Sarah, the obedient woman~
There are alot of things I think of, when I think of Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Conniving, unbelieving, and jealous, to name a few… But the Bible uses her as an example of an important quality-submission as a wife. “…Submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” (1Peter 3:5b,6a)
It’s encouraging to me, that even though Sarah was a failing human, she was still considered an example in the area she excelled in. Even if you have failings- and you do, if you’re human- the good things coming out of your life don’t go un-noticed by God.
~Ruth, the loyal woman~
In Ruth 1:14-16, when Naomi’s other daughter in law Orpha left her and returned to her mother’s house, Ruth refused to do the same. She was loyal to her deceased husband’s mother, and declared, “I am going wherever you go! Wherever you live, I will live there too, and your people? They are my people also!”
Ruth was loyal in a big way, but we may be more often asked to show loyalty in smaller ways. Maybe by not joining in conversations where someone you know is being trashed for making life choices that others don’t agree with, or standing by your husband even if you don’t entirely agree with all of his views.
Maybe you hear someone snickering at another church group, and the way they apply Christianity differently than you. You have dear friends in this group and you know they are following Jesus. Do you speak up for them, or just stand by while the judging goes on? I don’t think Ruth would just watch; the loyal woman would do something.
~Hannah, the warrior woman~
Prayer warrior, that is. We all know the story in 1 Samuel 1, she kept praying and didn’t give up! Often in my life I find that if the situation I’m praying about doesn’t resolve when I think it should, I just give up on it and move on to praying about other things. I need to be more like Hannah, and keep tugging God’s hand in prayer. Maybe the breakthrough is just one prayer away! Or maybe it’s not. Either way, I want to be a more persistent in prayer, not rushing ahead of God to do “my part” then ordering Him to change what I can’t; but clinging to Him and praying in faith that He can move my mountains.
Another thing that impresses me about Hannah is her faith. When Eli told her that the Lord would grant her petition, she believed, and she was no longer sad. She didn’t just pray, she prayed believing, and her prayer was answered!
~Esther, the brave woman~
When I think of Esther, my first thought is bravery. Maybe it should be sacrificial love. After all, she loved her people so much, that she was willing to put her life and queenship on the line on their behalf. She and her bravery put me to shame. It seems she knew she was a daughter of God, and just trusted Him to take care of her.
When we find ourselves faced with difficult (or just scary) things, do we walk bravely through, knowing we are God’s and He will be with us; or do we worry and imagine the worst?
Most people don’t know this about me, but I’m a little scared of the dark… 🙄 Not so much the dark, I guess; more the unknown creatures that could be lurking in the darkness.
We live near the mountains, in a little area that is known to be home to coyotes and eastern cougars. This information doesn’t help my problem. The coyotes just sound scary, but cougars are scary… I do NOT enjoy going out after 10:30 pm to check the turkeys, etc. I try to make every precaution to be sure that I don’t find myself in the dark and on foot at the same time.
If Esther lived today, I doubt she would have depended on the fourwheeler for a sense of security as I do, thinking: “If anything gets in my way, I’ll run over it!” I believe she would walk calmly through the darkness, trusting in her God to carry out His plan for her, be it long life or a cougar’s midnight snack.
~Mary, the devoted woman~
I like to picture the Mary and Martha scene, and try to decide which one I am. (Just kidding, I’m definitely Martha.) Too often, I realize I’ve been so caught up in my own life, my own interests, that i forget to devote myself to sitting at Jesus’ feet. I tend to get lax about studying the Bible when I’m busy. Or when other pastimes look more inviting… shame on me!
Sure, I go through spells of “Mary imitation” where I resolve that I’m not going to be Martha any more. Those times in my life are rewarding and wonderful, but if I don’t watch, Martha comes sneaking back in. Martha has her good points -she is a worker, just like the Proverbs 31 woman- but her priorities are off track. Martha probabably thinks Mary is lazy. But Jesus says “Mary has chosen the better part.”
So there we have some well known women of the Bible, and some of the qualities that helped to make them well known. Nothing new, nothing you didn’t know already, but for me, studying these women is encouraging. I hope you are encouraged as well.
Sometime I want to highlight the qualities of some less popular women from the Bible. But its still very much a work in progress, so don’t hold your breath. If you have suggestions of some women I should choose, feel free to say so in the comments or shoot me an email!
Whether you identify with the “Proverbs 31 Woman,” Mary, Martha or one of the others, I hope you have a blest week serving our Lord in your own way!