Tag Archives: Proverbs 31

How To Work With Willing Hands“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” {Proverbs 31:13}

 So now we get to the meat of the passage we like to call the Proverbs 31 woman.

 What stands out to me immediately in these verses is the phrase “works with willing hands,” which, according to one commentary, is translated literally as “with the pleasure of her hands.”

 Wondering why this stands out to me? I’ll tell you why. Because that is not the natural disposition of my heart. I am not, and have never been, one to work willingly. And certainly not with pleasure.

I’ll work when necessary. I do what needs to be done. But I’ve always ascribed to the “work smart, not hard” way of doing things, which I tend to translate as “do only as much as is absolutely necessary, and if you can figure out how to do it more quickly or efficiently, all the better. More me time.”

It’s easy for us to say work=bad, play/rest=good. But we see in Genesis 2 that this is not the case.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” {Genesis 2:15}

This is the first thing God does with man when he creates him. He puts him to work. He creates for him a garden, and gives him responsibility over it. Believe it or not, work existed back when the world was as it should be.

Granted, we did almost immediately mess it up, but in its purest form, in the way God made it, work was meant to be good.

A few months ago, I was starting to get really wound up. Everything frustrated me, and my anxiety was getting the best of me. I found myself freaking out after breakfast every morning because an hour after waking up, there were already dozens of dishes to do.

Then one day as I was cleaning up, I realized the vanity in my frustration. No matter how many dishes I did the previous day, no matter how pristine the kitchen was when I went to sleep, there would always be dishes after breakfast in the morning. Just as there would always be laundry to do, and always bathrooms to clean, and always dog hair to vacuum. I could look at this as either a never-ending frustration or simply part of the work God has given me to do.

The dishes aren’t just a hurdle to jump in order to get started with my day. They’re an integral part of my day, part of my job as a homemaker. And I have complete control over how I go about cleaning them. I can look at them and let my heart rate rise, wishing they would just go away, or I can go to work with willing hands.

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.”

Everything we do is, above all else, for the Lord, whether it is proclaiming his name among the nations or doing the dishes. If I can remember this, and do everything with this in mind, working willingly will come much more naturally.

Are you a willing worker? Do you have the same struggle I have, or have you found a way to delight in the work God has given you?





Proverbs 31 Woman“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” {Proverbs 31:11-12}

Today is the second installment of my study of “The Proverbs 31 Woman” (read last week’s post here if you missed it).

I love the beauty of the picture of the heart of the husband trusting his wife. It’s so much deeper than just “he trusts her.” His heart trusts her. It is a deep, almost ingrained trust, something that is not gained lightly.

I have to admit my heart jumped a little bit when I read these verses. I kind of didn’t want to ask myself whether this was true of my relationship with my husband. I know I am trustworthy, but have I proven to my husband that I am a safe place for his heart, that he can entrust his life, his world, into my hands? Does he run to me when he is in need of security, when his heart is troubled? Have I cultivated that kind of trust in our relationship?

I think this question ties directly to the next verse, which says that she does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. In order for my husband’s heart to trust me, he must know that I intend only good for him, for the rest of our lives. There should be no question in his mind that I will ever intend to harm him. 

Everything I do should communicate to him that my intentions are always for his good. Yes, we will fight, we will go through ups and downs, I will be grumpy and mean and selfish, but my main goal as a wife is to do him good, and never to harm him.

The rest of the verses in Proverbs 31 hash out how to gain this trust from my husband. How will my husband know he can trust me? How will he know I will do good to him? By my actions. In my day-to-day activities, the way I work, the way I run our house, the way I raise our children, I am showing my husband that his heart can trust me. I am saying to him, “I am a safe place. Our home is a safe place.”

Read the full text of Proverbs 31 here.  



Proverbs 31 Woman“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” {Proverbs 31:10}

If you’re a churchgoer, you probably know the phrase “Proverbs 31 woman.” In fact, you probably have a fairly distinct reaction to it. You might think, “Ah yes, the Proverbs 31 woman. What a wonderful depiction of what we as wives and mothers should strive toward.” Or you could be thinking, “Oh gosh, not the Proverbs 31 woman. What a terrible and unnecessary weight of responsibility this has placed on the shoulders of so many poor wives and mothers!”

As with many Bible passages, I think Proverbs 31 has done great good and great harm to women in the hands of Christians. It has been held up as an ideal, and anytime we hold something up as an ideal, we risk turning it into an idol. We risk turning an encouragement into a burden. 

However, as with all Bible passages, no matter how it has been mishandled or misinterpreted, it is the word of God, it is meant for our benefit and it is true.  

I read through it this morning and was struck by how exhaustive the description of the so-called Proverbs 31 woman is. Each verse strikes a new chord, hits on another aspect of what the writer considers to be an excellent wife. I know passages like this can be abused, but when I read it I am, above all else, convicted.

It begins with this: 

“An excellent wife who can find?” So right off the bat we know that a woman with the following qualities is rare. While this is something we should strive for, it’s not something that is easy to attain. Let’s face it, it’s not easy being a good wife. I would never even begin to describe myself as an excellent wife. I don’t know anyone who would.  

“She is far more precious than jewels.” Not as precious as jewels, not just a little bit more precious than jewels. Far more precious than jewels. It is not just the rarity of jewels that makes them precious; it is also their inherent qualities, their beauty. She possesses the attributes that every husband seeks, makes him richer than any jewels would.

So what do we do with this? Do we scoff and say “Well that’s unfair. This standard is preposterous, how can anyone expect to live up to this?” Or do we write each of the following qualities on our to-do list, slowly and methodically checking them off as we spend all of our time and energy attempting to live up to this lofty ideal?

I don’t think either of these options is wise. I do, however, think it is wise to consider the verses that follow this first verse, to dig into what they mean and to see how they apply to our lives.

So that’s what I’m going to do, over the next several weeks, on the blog. I’m going to go through this passage bit by bit and see what I find. Hopefully you’ll resonate with some of my findings and even dig up some wisdom for your own life. I’m excited to see where this leads us.