October 28, 2013

Charm and Beauty

Devotion for the Week...

I'm going to do something different with my devotions for the next couple of weeks. Rather than picking passages from different part all over the Bible, I want to settle in and explore one section  in a little more depth.

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a famous portion of Scripture. It gives a picture of 'The Wife of Noble Character,' a standard many women find nearly impossible to match. And yet it's amazing how this women can teach us so much about how we should be living today, even though her times and her culture were vastly different from ours. I have never worked with a distaff or a spindle and my husband doesn't go to the city gate to conduct business, but there are principles here that still hold true.

The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

As you read this passage, did you see yourself in any of it? Do you read anything that makes you cringe because you feel you don't measure up? Please don't. I don't think this woman is described here to make us feel guilty or inferior. I believe she is meant to inspire us, to spur us on in our desire to be 'wives of noble character.'

There are three themes I find interesting, and we'll explore each of them in the weeks to come. There are references to the woman's relationship with her husband, many references to her work and references to her relationships with others.

For today, I want to look at verse 30. I will confess that the first few times I heard Proverbs 31 read aloud, before I read the words for myself, I thought verse 30 was a continuation of the husband's remark in verse 29. It sounded as if her were saying, "You do great things, so it's okay that you're not charming or beautiful"! Thankfully, that's not the case since hearing her husband say that would destroy most women emotionally. Not to mention, he'd be sleeping in the spare room for months!

Charm and beauty, especially beauty, are so highly prized in our society. We women are supposed to be thin, young and in style at all times, regardless of age or body type. When we believe we are not those things, we feel awful about ourselves. We talk trash to ourselves, we starve ourselves and we spend a fortune on hair colour, wrinkle cream and shapewear. But none of that physical stuff matters to God. Yes, we want to look our best, and we certainly hope our husbands think we're beautiful, but God wants us to remember our priorities.

The end of verse 30 says, "but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." God values your relationship with Him above all else, and that isn't in any way dependent on your dress size or your age.

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