Written by Jackie Davis
That dreaded Proverbs 31 woman: so easy to love and to hate. Early on in my marriage (thirty one years ago: how coincidental is that?), I became fascinated by this woman found at the end of Proverbs and spent many months studying her. Through the years, I have cycled back around to visiting with her like an old friend. You know the one: the chick who is always put together with every area of her life running on all cylinders and at peak efficiency and productivity. The friend you like being around in the hopes that some of that excellence will simply rub off on you but, at the same time, exhausts you with her perfection.
The P31 woman is truly one of excellence who models for us godly traits that God highly esteems. She seems like the perfect woman, and God has preserved her portrait in the last chapter of Proverbs for us to refer back to again and again. She's there for us to emulate, to admire, to inspect, to study, and yes, to despise at times. That's why it is a love/hate relationship. Guess what? I will never measure up to her and neither will you. But I don't have to. The good news is, thirty one years later, I am a lot more like her than I used to be. Will I ever get there? Emphatically, NO. But, my friend, I want you to know that, in His strength and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I am a lot closer to looking like her than I have ever been.
Well, what does she look like, what does she stand for, what is important to her? Let's take a brief look at some of her qualities as outlined in verses 10-31 of the last chapter of Proverbs. She was an extreme woman of faith. She served God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. She saw His will for her life and she followed hard after Him. She deeply respected her husband and "did him good all the days of her life" and he trusted her deeply. She taught her children the ways of her Father in heaven and she nurtured her children with the love of Christ. She disciplined them with care and wisdom and trained them in the way they should go.
Was that all? Oh no! The P31 woman cared for her body and prepared healthy food for her family. She worked out and kept her body strong. She probably went all the way to Greenwood for healthier options (bringing her food from afar) and she grew a garden (okay, so it was a vineyard). She got up early and planned her day. She served her husband, her family, and others with a gentle and loving spirit. She didn't spend money unwisely and she talked to her husband before making big purchases. She only purchased quality items that she and her family needed. (Dave Ramsey would've probably had her on his talk show as an example). She was very industrious and worked hard with her hands. She had her own career (her own earnings), but her family clearly came first. She had the gift of hospitality and created an inviting home full of love and warmth for her family and guests. She used her time wisely and she worked diligently to complete her daily tasks. She often stayed up late getting everything done and she still had time left over to help the poor and needy. In the south, we would say she wore her "big girl panties" and didn't whine, grumble, and complain about everything. She didn't spend a lot of time dwelling on things that did not please the Lord. She had limited time for the Internet, Facebook, and television. Okay, I added that last part, but you get the picture.
Finally, she was full of great worth and beauty. She demonstrated strength, dignity, wisdom, and kindness. She had inner beauty that only comes from Christ. She used her creativity and sense of style to create beauty in herself, her life, home, and the lives of her loved ones. Her husband and children loved her dearly and were very proud of her.
Will I ever look just like the P31 woman? No. I get tired just typing about her. I am completely human and quite subject to sin and failure. But, should I throw up my hands and quit striving to look more like her? Should I say, "This is unattainable...so I give up?" Absolutely not! God has her strategically placed in this book of wisdom for a reason. Is she a work of fiction or just hypothetical? Probably. She is simply a reference point not for the EXACT person I should be, but the TYPE of person I should be. I want to be someone who takes wisdom and uses it to the best of my ability in the power of Jesus Christ. Women AND MEN can learn that from her. However, let us not lose sight of the truth that Christ's work on the cross and perfect life is applied to us as His children and we are perfectly acceptable covered by His grace and mercy. The Proverbs 31 woman is simply what we may look like when God conforms us to the image of Jesus, who "has become for us the very wisdom of God."
When I study her life, I am encouraged and energized to be better today than I was yesterday. Personally, I want to be ever growing into the woman He fashioned me to be and not becoming stagnant and complacent. The P31 Woman can help me get there. She is a mentor and someone I want to resemble. In a world full of Kardashians and Desperate Housewives, she is my American Idol. As we come to the end of this Proverbs journey together, I hope she inspires you to be all Christ intended as much as she does me.