My beef with Proverbs 31 … and eventual reconciliation

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For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with the Proverbs 31 woman for a variety of reasons. One of them had to do with the fact that it felt like a really long, unattainable checklist for myself as a woman. The other had to do with the fact that I felt so much of Christian culture preached to young women about the Proverbs 31 woman, but neglected or disregarded the rest of Proverbs which primarily speaks to young men and all the instruction regarding their behavior. What can I say? I’m a sucker for fairness and justice – it seemed unjust to place all the responsibility of the female gender. This is purely from my skewed and personal perspective. I’m definitely not speaking for all or any or most women, just myself.

Last Christmas my husband gave me Proverbs in The Passion Translation. Right after I opened it, I began excitedly sharing that I had just been thinking about the Proverbs 31 woman that morning. I told him that if wisdom was meant to be a metaphor for Christ in Proverbs, then the bride or woman in Proverbs 31 must certainly be a metaphor for the Church! Woah. Major revelation. Or so I thought, until I opened to the last chapter of Proverbs and realized that this translator thought the exact same thing! It was comforting and deflating all at the same time. If you haven’t read Proverbs 31 and looked at the bride as the Church, do it! It will change your life.

What gripped me even more than this initial penny-dropping-moment was the fact that as I read Proverbs 31 through a less critical and judgmental lens, I began to see that this woman was strong and it was not so much a check-list of characteristics to attain to, rather it was a description of a strong and confident woman who lived every day of her life to its fullest.

Here are a few nuggets that continue to speak to and inspire me:

“She is a woman of strength and mighty valor! She’s full of wealth and wisdom” (verse 10)

She wraps herself in strength, might and power in all her works.” (verse 17)

“She stretches out her hands to help the needy and she lays hold of the wheels of government. She is known by her extravagant generosity to the poor, for she always reaches out her hands to those in need.” (verses 19-20)

“Bold power and glorious majesty are wrapped around her as she laughs with joy over the latter days.” (verse 25)

The translator of The Passion Translation, Brian Simmons, points out that the original word “virtuous” that is used is often used to describe warriors. It means: mighty, wealthy, excellent, morally righteous, full of substance, integrity, abilities, and strength. These are characteristics I definitely want in my life and hope to embody is some form someday!

What I read and what I am continually challenged and encouraged by is the fact that this woman lives a life full of strength, wisdom, generosity. She lives a life without fear and walks boldly in “all her works.” Whatever she does, it is done full of confidence and excellence. That’s the type of woman I want to be. I want to be someone who knows how to help those in need and how to use my gifts and talents to benefit as many as possible. I want to walk confidently in who God has created me to be and live a life with arms extended outwards impacting the world, whatever that world may be, around me.

Dig into Proverbs 31 and let God reveal something fresh for your life today!

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