Stop Trying to Be the Proverbs 31 Woman

Have you ever compared yourself to the Proverbs 31 woman? Here are my thoughts on why we should stop trying to achieve this perfection and what we should do instead!

 

If you’re a young woman associated with almost any Christian circle, you’ve probably been told at some point that the Proverbs 31 woman is what you should strive to be. And while the woman described in Proverbs chapter 31 is an excellent example to follow, maybe we shouldn’t be striving so hard to be just like her.

When we strive to be the woman described in this passage of scripture in our own strength, we actually cripple ourselves. When we pick a person in scripture to be like, we often lose some focus and suddenly find ourselves worn out from humanly trying to exemplify another human. We forget that we can’t do anything or become a better version of ourselves in our own strength; we need our Saviour to transform us.

In our pursuit of becoming the Proverbs 31 woman, we start the vicious cycle of comparison and find ourselves grossly inadequate. But…maybe we were never meant to be like her. Let’s look at some context here.

First, Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is a book of King Solomon’s wisdom. It’s full of advice for dealing with different relationships, as well as discernment and finding wisdom. At the very end of the book, we have a passage apparently written by Lemuel, who writes out an oracle his mother used to tell him.

Yep, Proverbs 31 was written to a man, not women.

The second part of this passage is actually describing the kind of women this woman’s son should be seeking for a wife. So yes, these are excellent virtues we should be seeking. But we cannot wear ourselves down trying to obtain the perfection described in this passage.

I’m not saying that we women should not seek to have the characteristics described in Proverbs 31, or that we can ignore that passage because it’s addressed to a guy. Definitely not! We don’t get to ignore passages of scripture simply because they don’t seem to apply to us. What I am asking is, are we looking at Proverbs 31 with the wrong perspective?

Rather than Proverbs 31 being the goal to achieve, it should be a guideline to use. What I mean is that though we will probably never achieve the perfection described in the passage, we should still seek those characteristics and work towards them in Christ’s strength. Proverbs 31 hurts us when we set standards for ourselves that we can’t achieve in our own strength.

In seeking to become a Proverbs 31 woman or wife, we can take our focus off of being like Christ. And when anything becomes a distraction from being like Christ, it is a stumbling block in our path.

However, we know that we can become worn out seeking to be like Christ in our own strength. The key to being successful in molding our hearts into that of Christ’s is allowing Him to do the work in our hearts. Just like looking to the woman described in Proverbs 31 as our example, we need to ask God to change and mold our hearts into ones that reflect His.

Have you ever compared yourself to the woman described in Proverbs 31? Did it help you or hinder you in your walk with Christ?

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Pointing to God in Both Success and Failure

You know it's important to give God the glory when you succeed. But what about when you fail? How do you point to God in your failure? Click here to find out!

Have you ever been told, “You did such a great job! You should be proud”?

I’m sure you have, for one thing or another. Most of us have had at least one experience—big or small—in which we were successful at something. Maybe it was a coloring contest when you were nine. Maybe your high school graduation or getting your first real job. Most of us have had that experience of doing well at something and being proud of it. I know I have (although none of those experiences include athletics).

We live in a world where it is so easy to get an artificial self-esteem boost. We post our success stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram then watch and wait to see how many likes we get in the first hour. When our expectations are blown away, we feel validated. When our expectations are disappointed, so are we. We carefully critique the picture or post and if we think it’s not good enough, we quietly delete it.

But when we succeed, wow! We get recognition, congratulations and good wishes. We feel so proud. People approve of me, we think. I’m accepted. Loved. Impressive. Eventually, we identify ourselves with that success. When we think of who we are as a person, we add that to our list of qualifications of doing life.

The problem with success such as I’ve described is that it doesn’t really work the way we think it will. Success is great. Doing a good job is something to be happy about. We shouldn’t strive for anything less. There are several places in Scripture where we are told that we should work hard and not be lazy. We should strive for the best. But we are also told to work for the Lord and not for man. I believe that goes deeper than “work as if you were working for Jesus and not your boss”. I think it includes not seeking man’s approval of that work, but God’s.

I think God knew what He was doing when He said that we need to give Him glory for everything we do. When we start to take credit for our successes, we start to find our identity in those successes. We know who we are because of those successes.

However, finding pride in the good we do is a double-edged sword. When we identify ourselves by our successes, what happens when we fail? We start to define ourselves by our failures too. But since we aren’t perfect and never will be, we will always experience failure from time to time; and our successes won’t always outweigh our failures. So what happens? We get caught in a downward spiral of failure, defeat and guilt.

When we allow our successes to define us, our failures will too. Click To Tweet

But God made us for so much more than that. When we were told to give glory to Him, it wasn’t just for His benefit. He loves us too much for that. It was for His glory, but also for our good. He knows we aren’t perfect. When we give God our successes, we give Him ourselves. When our successes don’t identify us, neither do our failures.

Your failures don’t define you. Neither do your successes. You are not a high-paying job or an employment insurance cheque. You are not a high GPA or a failed course. God and His love alone define you. You are a child of God.

The Son of God died for your sins, your imperfections, your failures. Then He rose, triumphant, over those sins. He defeated them. He gives you strength for your successes and grace in your failures. He is on your side and will never leave you. When you fail, He stays the same.

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Being Pure in Every Aspect of Life

When we hear "purity", we usually think of sexual purity. But have you ever stopped to think about being pure in other areas of your life? God asks us to live holy and pure lives, but how do we do that? Click here to read more!

If you went to youth group as a teen, there’s little doubt that at some point, you got “the talk” from your youth pastor or small group leader. Everyone knew that sexual purity was going to be discussed; the question was if it would be in large group or in segregated small groups. And you definitely did not want to be sitting beside the guy you liked during said “talk”. Awkward.

We spent so much time talking about sexual purity in youth group that I think we forgot about something just as important: purity in every area of life.

It’s really easy to agree with the fact that we should have a sexually pure lifestyle. But what about laughing at a suggestive joke? Using coarse language (whether that’s taking God’s name in vain or not)?

Purity is something that isn’t talked about a whole lot, but there are several verses on it. In the Old Testament, God’s people were required to make sacrifices in order to keep themselves pure before God. In the New Testament, there are many verses about purity. In 1 Peter 3, Peter shows us that purity is powerful. In verses 1 & 2, he tells his readers:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

When we are pure, people notice. And Peter says that being respectful and pure are two important traits that a woman can use to bring her husband to Christ—without a word. Wow.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in situations where we were all hanging out at youth group or young adults and someone shared the sanitized or “Christian” version of a dirty joke. The kind you wouldn’t pick up on if you were completely naïve, but was also too easy to read into. Everyone kind of laughs, like they know they shouldn’t, but hey—it’s funny. We’re all Christians. It’s like there’s a mutual understanding that we all know we shouldn’t laugh, but we won’t judge each other if we do.

The truth is, purity matters. It stands out when you refuse to participate in anything not honouring to God. When you give up your popularity to make Jesus proud, you stop blending in.

Maybe that’s what’s so scary.

Maybe we’re afraid of standing out. We are Christians and want to act as such, but we don’t want to look super righteous or be called a goody two-shoes. We don’t want to take any risks. But the reality is that being pure is an essential part of the Christian faith and lifestyle.

The latter part of 1 Timothy 5:22 says,

…nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

If Christ has made us righteous before God, has he not made us pure? Why then, if we are made righteous in Christ, should we try to hide that?

If we take purity out of the picture, we are hiding the evidence of our faith. Click To Tweet

Please also notice in the above verse: we are not to take part in others’ sins; our responsibility is ourselves. I’m not saying you should preach to everyone who tells a distasteful joke, nor that you should develop a “holier than thou” attitude. Purity should be paired with humility. What I am saying is that we must choose purity for ourselves.

In 1 Timothy 4:12 & 16a, Paul encourages Timothy, a young man serving the Lord, with these words:

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (…) Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. (…)

Paul encourages Timothy to not only be pure, but to be an example. To stand out. To set a high standard for himself. In verse 16, Paul adds that Timothy must guard himself and focus on the Word. Purity does not come easily, ladies. It requires us to watch our behaviour and focus on Christ. It doesn’t just happen.

Today, let me encourage you to seek purity in all things. By being pure, you are being a powerful witness to others. You’re saying that your values matter more than your reputation. Christ matters more than your comfort. I challenge you to set yourself apart by doing everything out of purity.

 

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