Killing the Proverbs 31 Stereotype
Most women cringe at the mention of Proverbs 31. Their first thought is that it is absolutely impossible for any woman to achieve such high standards.
Honestly, I do not blame any woman who deliberately avoids reading this passage of scripture. In fact, I was once one of them. At first glance, it only brings our own insecurities to the surface and highlights our inadequacies – at least that is what it feels like. Who enjoys reading about absolute “perfection,” while knowing that you will never measure up? I know I do not.
Many focus on what the Proverbs 31 Woman does, rather than who she is. It seems utterly impossible to be able to do all those things, and that is what catches our attention, but it makes us miss the point of the scripture. Virtue; strength; dignity; wisdom; compassion; diligence; elegance; goodness; faithfulness; modesty…can you do all those things? No. You cannot, because Proverbs 31 is not so much about the woman’s perfect deeds and impeccable home-making skills, but more about the characteristics that she represents. When, at the very core of who we are, we live out these things, we will automatically bear the fruits. It is not about fulfilling a task list or ticking off stuff from our “perfect-woman-checklist”. That is not who we were created to be – at all. Looking at scripture from this perspective only binds us in more chains as women, and Jesus wants us to be free – absolutely free. We are placing unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations upon ourselves, and that is not the handiwork of God or the Bible.
This brings about the question: how does she manage to be who she is? This is very simple. True, genuine godliness, as it is represented in Proverbs 31, can only come from one Source: God. When your dependency on Jesus is so genuine and unshakable that you are completely surrendered to Him, you are giving Him the opportunity to change your heart and mind through the Holy Spirit. When you spend regular time in His Word, it does a work in you and renews your mind. He changes you from the inside-out, transforming you into a complete representation of Him – into a virtuous woman. Does this mean that you will no longer make mistakes? Does this mean that you will all of a sudden be an image of sheer perfection? It is not about who we are or what we can do, but about Jesus and what He has done for us. We will never be perfect, and Jesus knows that. We are all a work in progress, and He knows that. We have all sinned and fall short [Romans 3 v 23], and He knows that.
We tend to suppress our weaknesses and hide behind an image of “having it all together”, but Jesus calls us to be open about it before Him, and He will do a good work within us. When you read Proverbs 31, do not stare into your own faults, mistakes, inadequacies and disqualify yourself from being a virtuous woman. Look to the One who sees you as worthy and who loves you, created you for greatness and wants to use you despite your weaknesses. Do not be afraid to let Him open up those unpleasant wounds of insecurity. He understands the process. Do not give up on yourself; fix your eyes on Jesus, for He will complete the work that He has started within you. It is not about being perfect, it is about being completely surrendered to Jesus. What needs to be done in you, He will do. You let go, and He will do the rest.
Written by Danelle Vingtas