The Proverbs 31 Virtuous Woman

The last half of Proverbs 31 titled Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character, describes a woman who indeed seems to be perfect, although it never says it in those exact words. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God,” and this idea may make the image that Proverbs 31 portrays seem unattainable, unreachable, and perhaps closer to a theoretical idea that a woman should aspire to. Are we simply looking for a reason to not attempt to reach the level of goodness that this woman portrays? Let’s take a closer look at the verses themselves before we draw a conclusion.

The first verse, “A wife of noble character, who can find?” presents the question that we are asking and is a contributing factor to the idea that this woman is in fact theoretical.

This is a heavily debated part of the bible, similar to the previous verses on King Lemuel, who some believe is King Solomon, some believe is fictitious and some believe is previously mentioned by a slightly different name. For these reasons, we will stay away from the question of this being based on a true woman and again focus on if the attributes are truly attainable for a woman in modern society.

Proverbs 31: God’s Handbook for Virtuous Women

Today’s world may look different than the world in which Proverbs 31 was written, but the message is the same because the author is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Proverbs 31 is a biblical narrative outlining the principles of a Godly woman. In today’s society, it is more important than ever for women to have a biblically sound example of what role God has called them to embrace.

In Proverbs 31, King Solomon is remembering what his mother described as a virtuous woman. While the references may seem out of date, the characteristics they represent are as applicable today as they were over two thousand years ago. 

The Virtuous Believer:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Proverbs 31:25 New International Version (NIV)

Above all else, a virtuous woman is one who puts her faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of worrying about the future and what it might hold, a virtuous woman puts her trust in God and his will for her life. It is this faith that clothes her in strength and gives her the ability to look at the future with joy instead of anxiety.

How to be a Virtuous Believer:

  • Pray often
  • Spend time with God every day
  • Read your bible o Thank God for giving you opportunities to trust in Him

The Virtuous Mother:

Modern society does not make it seem very easy or even necessary to become a woman of this caliber as gender roles play a very large part in the virtues that are listed in the 22 verses.

Being a loving mother is thought of more and more as unnecessary these days and while I agree that it is not always necessary to raise kids to have a fulfilling life, it almost would seem like the traditional role of a mother is frowned upon in some circles.

Your relationship with your children is the third most important relationship in your life. As a virtuous mother, you should exemplify the traits of a follower of Christ. In essence, your most effective method of teaching your children is leading by example.

How to be a Virtuous Mother:

  • Pray for your children
  • Pray with your children
  • Turn your children towards Christ
  • Set a powerful and Godly example for them to emulate

The Virtuous Bride:

Fulfilling the roles in Proverbs 31 also calls for being a faithful bride and a good homemaker. Both are scenarios where modern society and modern media are neither supportive or encouraging.

The idea of “sexual freedom” creates a distorted view of holy and traditional matrimony, the sacred union between a wife and her husband. Instead of seeing the union as a commitment to love, loyalty, and openness, it is painted as an unnecessary system of oppression.

The idea that any type of polygamous relationship has been contradicted by the very same media that supports its ideas, whether it’s through talk show gossip or “reality” TV shows, yet people will still often buy into this sin because it’s the message that they choose to hear or want to hear.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31: 11-12 New International Version (NIV)

Your relationship with God is the top priority, but the relationship immediately after is your marriage. It is this union that God himself created to bless your life in unfathomable ways. Unfortunately, any relationship in this fallen world has its issues and it takes choosing your spouse every day to make it work.

is God calling women to fulfill their covenant with Him. Not only for wives to be faithful in their marriage to their husbands but also to be faithful in their covenant with God himself.

Proverbs 31:11-12 New International Version (NIV)

How to be a Virtuous Wife:

  • Seek Christ with your husband
  • Pray for your husband
  • Be slow to anger and quick to forgive

The Virtuous Homemaker:

The idea of homemaking has also been regarded as a system of oppression and not a highlight of what makes a woman special. A mother’s touch when it comes to making a house a home is a beautiful thing and it takes hard work and discipline that will often go unnoticed or unrewarded as it can be a full-time job in itself keeping the house clean while children are growing.

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”.

Proverbs 31:27 New International Version (NIV)

While today’s society may challenge gender roles, God called women to be the one to manage the household. This is often seen as an archaic tradition, but it is what God designed women to do. This means a woman organizes her home in a way that blesses her family. By doing so, she and her household will be better fit to serve the Lord.

How to be a Virtuous Homemaker:

  • Create a home that is welcoming to your community
  • Seek out ways to improve your daily productivity
  • Be intentional with your day

The Virtuous Worker:

Verses 16-18 go over the strength of a woman and the wisdom of her trading. “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.”

This woman described is a hard-working, disciplined, and diligent entrepreneur. No part of her seems oppressed in the slightest.

The task of working the land or any other type of business while being a stay-at-home parent or mom may seem incredibly daunting, but it’s not impossible, and it is indeed an amazing idea to aspire to.

The mothers that I know that have worked for themselves while raising a family have not only served their family on a financial level but on an inspirational one as well. Their children see the fruits of their labor and go out into the world knowing the reality and the hardships of running a business and the hard-working mentality and the willingness to put in the work that is necessary to succeed.

“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.”

Proverbs 31:17-18 New International Version (NIV)

Continuing the idea of being productive, a virtuous woman is a hard worker. This means not simply resting when you have achieved a well-run household. While today’s society balks at traditional gender roles, it is women – not men – whom God called to run a household and contribute financially to the household.

How to be a Virtuous Worker:

  • Seek God’s will and purpose for your life
  • Pray for God to replace any bad habits with good ones
  • Approach every opportunity with a strong work ethic

The Virtue of Time Management:

To be able to complete many of the tasks and expectations listed above, a woman needs to be diligent and disciplined with her time.

How many of us can say that we are reaching our potential without fault and using our time wisely? I for one am guilty of watching empty and meaningless shows, as well as procrastinating in the face of a daunting task (or list of tasks).

Rest is indeed important. I am not refuting that. But again, the ideal woman that is portrayed in Proverbs 31 is in fact very diligent and to uphold her standards, as well as the standards of God, would be putting in the effort to plan a scheduled break and not base a lifestyle around it.

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” The truth is, there is always something more we could be doing with our time, as God’s work is never done.

This is an important thing to remember in the time of this pandemic, as many of us seem to easily succumb to boredom, thinking that there is nothing to do. I believe the abundance of time should incite a feeling similar to the idea stated earlier about the abundance of money; we should not take it as an excuse to be lazy but as an opportunity to achieve as much as possible with what we have been given.

The Beauty of a Virtuous Woman:

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30. The type of beauty that God adores is the natural inner beauty that comes from a woman’s heart. The type of beauty that is to be cherished by God and by a godly husband once again clashes with the modern idea of beauty, which tends to be skin deep.

Now I can appreciate many of the steps against society’s trophy wife ideas that have been taken in recent years. Women are being encouraged more and more to embrace their natural beauty and so-called “imperfections,” which are completely perfect by God’s standards.

But again, it is not the superficial that we should be focused on. The inner beauty is a woman’s love for the Lord and this love for the Lord and his word can be shown in a multitude of virtues such as the ones previously listed.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30 New International Version (NIV)

Women have always been revered for their appearance, but in a time with social media praising beauty above all else, it is important to remember that physical beauty is not the most valuable trait a woman can offer to the world.

As Proverbs 31:30 states, beauty is temporary but a woman’s relationship with the Lord is eternal and by far the most important characteristic she can have.

How to be a Virtuous Woman of Beauty:

  • Take care of your appearance, but remember that beauty should not be the only trait you invest time and energy into
  • Live a life that illustrates your relationship with Christ
  • Cultivate a modest heart

The Virtuous Woman vs. Modern Society:

The struggle to be a virtuous woman is not unique to our modern society. Sin and external negative influences have always and will always be a part of this world. But the idea is becoming more difficult for non-Christians to appreciate.

The simple idea of identifying as a woman is becoming a blurred line. So what does this mean for a woman who is a part of modern society that wishes to become a woman of virtue?

I can say without a doubt that it is not simple and it is not possible to do if we conform to the principles of modern society. I suppose it’s a good thing that Christians are used to being outcasts since the dawn of Christianity to be precise.

1 John 15: 18-19 says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”

To answer the question “Can a virtuous woman exist in modern society?” is a difficult one to answer definitively, but I believe that the answer is yes.

Matthew 28:19-20 says this, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

God’s hope for us is to change society as much as we possibly can and while he may have been speaking specifically to his disciples in Matthew 28, what he says rings true for all of us; another amazing example of the timelessness of the Bible.

Society as a majority is not Christian and even out of the many that claim to be Christian, there are few that are willing to go out into society with the hopes of changing it.

But the virtuous woman does in fact exist. I have witnessed many women of faith, my own mother included, who meet and continue to aspire to the virtues of Proverbs 31.

I like to think of them as existing outside of the norms and expectations of society and within Christian society. Their purpose and their dedication towards being a virtuous woman could be described as an open act of rebellion towards the modern standard of a woman.

I can understand and appreciate the amount of pressure that this places on a woman and I can’t begin to describe the admiration I have for the women that strive to meet these standards. These standards are no laughing matter, but luckily for us, God never gives us more than we can handle and He equips those of us that he calls upon.

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

Conclusion

Today’s society has worked hard to empower women socially and politically, but it is God who has been empowering women forever.

Proverbs 31 provides women a reference guide on how to live in a way that pleases God – how to live the way God has called them to live.

The most important characteristic a woman should have is a close relationship with Christ. From this, all other things benefit as her faith in Him deepens. Her relationships with her husband and her children are also very important and need to have a strong foundation in Christ.

Her home should be built on the same foundation of stone and should be welcoming not only to her own family and friends, but to members of her community as well.

A virtuous woman is a hard worker who seeks ways in which she can bless her family financially. She pursues every venture with strength and enthusiasm – not with feeble or half-hearted attempts.

Finally, a virtuous woman is a woman whose beauty comes from her love of Christ and a life that serves Him. Such beauty is clearly visible and admired all her life. A woman seeking to please God should use Proverbs 31 as a manual in which she approaches life. It will not only please God, but it will also bless her and all those she encounters.

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