This message was shared by Susan Dunn at WOW31 Summer Splash on 18 August 2012.
Proverbs 31:10-31 provided a long list of attributes about what this woman can do. It described her general character and her specific qualities. And what a long list it is! To be a Proverbs 31 woman is truly no easy feat and what a tall order to fill!
I have read this passage many times in my life as a Christian but it was only in 1999 when the Lord spoke to me through this passage that I really took a close look at it.
To me the woman depicted in Proverbs 31 is too perfect and surely I thought no one would be able to achieve it. Well, at least not in this world! I often wonder what it means to be this woman. Does it mean that I can make a check on all the items on the list mentioned above? Some days I could put a check on some of the qualities but other days I found myself unchecking the rest of the qualities because I felt I fell short.
However when I began to meditate over these words, it became clear to me that this is the Lord's desire for all women who follow after Him. In another words, this should be the vision for every Christian woman today.
Since the days of King Solomon, the demographics of Christian women have changed. They are more educated. Many are working in the marketplace. In most places, marriage takes place at a later age and there are growing trends of women having fewer children or none at all. No matter how the demographics have changed, a woman desiring to be the Proverbs 31 woman faces immense challenges. In fact, I am of the opinion that the challenges are even more so in this century than ever before.
So, how then can we embark on this journey to be that Proverbs 31 woman and not be shipwrecked in the process? Being a Proverbs 31 woman definitely doesn’t mean we have to put a check on every quality listed.
Today I want to share with you 3 things we MUST do and the 3rd point being the main theme for today.
To be a 21st Century Proverbs 31 woman, we must first commit to be:
1. KEEPERS of the WORD
God’s Word is the ultimate education and authority for me as a woman, wife and mother. My education and experience can teach me the skills and basics, but it doesn’t teach me the Why. Being a wife to a full- time minister, mother of 3 elementary school kids and a businesswoman managing a team of consultants is definitely no easy task. Such multiplicity of roles for many 21st Century modern women today only enhance the importance of having the right priorities at the right time. Such wisdom can only be drawn from the Word and through the Holy Spirit.
Psalms 119:9 - How can a young man (woman) cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
How can you young women not succumb to the pressures of singlehood or the dilution of Christian values in the area of sexual morality? We need to make a decision to keep the Word. No matter how lonely you are, no matter how rich and charming he is, no matter how handsome he looks; keeping the Word means choosing as Christ would choose. Or when there is no choice, to remain happily single just as Christ did – He lived and died a single man.
How can we, those who are married, love, honor and serve our husband and children when we sometimes feel overlooked, unvalued or even abused?
Psalms 119:11 – Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Keeping God's Word means making a deliberate choice to do what is right despite feeling wronged.
Our roles as women are not easy, and they can seem to be mundane at times if we are not taught the reason behind why we do what we do. When we fulfil the role God has called us to as a woman, a wife and mother; we protect our families from dishonoring God and His Word.
Titus 2:5(NLT) - ”to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God”
God uses our role as women and the difficulties and trials we may experience, to grow us more and more into the likeness of His Son.
James 1:2-4 (The Message) - ”Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
We are the dominant influence in our homes, our husbands are the leaders, but we have been given much power by God on whether we will choose to build up or tear down our homes.
Proverbs 14:1(Amplified) - Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.
Who is the wise woman? Is it not the one who keeps the Word and build her house regardless of circumstances (single or married) or people (good or bad husbands).
Mary, the mother of Jesus was a wise woman who kept the Word and lived the life of a purposeful single and even when she was asked to do the most buzzard thing, she obeyed and God bestowed her great honor.
Luke 1:38 - Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” – Mary is a Keeper of the Word!
What about you? Do you feel like God is asking you to do the most bizarre thing? Like waiting for the right person despite the fact that your age is catching up and many around you are getting attached and married? Or is He asking you to love and honor and serve your husband even though you feel he does not deserve it? My deepest desire for you – the WOW31 women – is that you will let the Word of God become flesh in you just as it did in Christ.
2. The KEEPER of the VISION
Habakkuk 2:3 - This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
Pastor Andy Stanley in his book says “Vision is a clear mental picture of what could be, fuelled by the conviction that it should be”
Vision provides us with a roadmap so that we know the paths to take. Everyone ends up somewhere in life but you can end up somewhere on PURPOSE!
I cannot promise that you will find your soul mate or that your husband will treat you right or that your children will be honorable. But one thing I know that no one can rob you of, is the right to be a Proverbs 31 woman.
The Proverbs 31 woman does not embark on this journey in the hope that someone will recognize her value and marry her, she does not do it to win her husband's respect nor does she do it to win her girlfriend's admiration or to prove herself to her children. She does it because that was what she was made to become. This is God's vision for her!
Titus 2:11-14 - For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Who is our blessed hope? Our ultimate Husband – The Lord Jesus
We know that Queen Esther had certainly set her eyes on the ultimate One because she was willing to risk everything even her life to accomplish her life's purpose – which is God's purpose to deliver Israel.
Queen Esther was adopted by her own cousin Mordecai and we can derived that from a very young age she had been groomed to accomplish a purpose.
Esther 2:10 (NLT) - Esther had not told anyone of her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had directed her not to do so. Every day Mordecai would take a walk near the courtyard of the harem to find out about Esther and what was happening to her.
Esther knew she was not sent to the palace to be rich or famous or powerful though these were all available to her. She was there to fulfil a purpose.
What about us? Do we know our purpose? If you have not gotten it, let me urge you today to make becoming a WOW31 woman your vision for your life so that you can understand your purpose and live a fulfilled life.
Queen Esther had such a sense of destiny in her life that she was willing to even die for it! We all know her infamous quote “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
Women of God, if Jesus had died for us, will we be willing to LIVE for Him – live to fulfil His purpose and become the glory that He has predestined us to be from the day of creation. No matter what happens, that we will not abandon this vision!
Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. He pulled the people together and gave them a vision to rebuild the walls.
Neh 6:1-3 ” I am doing a great work and I cannot come down”.
You must stay focus on the work that God has asked you to do and DO NOT be distracted and stray away. If Nehemiah had come down from the wall, they would kill him and the work would be destroyed. There will surely be threats and pain when we want to fulfill God's calling, but no matter what do not come down from the wall because you are doing a GREAT WORK!
I encourage you to say to yourself “I am doing a great work and I cannot and will not come down.”
Finally the wall was rebuilt. (Neh 6:6) “they knew it was our God”. Finally God will get the glory.
Becoming the WOW31 woman will not only change your live but the lives of people connected to you.
3. Our SISTERS' KEEPER
We all know the Story of Cain and Abel – due to his jealousy, Cain murdered his own brother Abel.
Gen 4:9 - Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
What do you think is God's answer to Cain's question? YES of course!
Today, let's change the name from Cain and Abel to Shane and Mabel. Do you think God's answer is still yes? Of course!
To quote Carol Saline, “Sisters function as safety nets in a chaotic world simply by being there for each other.”
Lisa Bevere in her book 'Lioness Arising' suggested that as Jesus is known as the Lion of Judah that we the women of God are to be the lioness that will rule together with Him.
Num 23:24 (NLT) - These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”
She elaborated that -
The Lioness hunt together , She rises to gather strength, She rises to greet and groom others, She rises to hunt together, She arises alongside other lionesses, She rises to move the young to safety, She rises to confront enemies that threaten the pride, She rises to walk with her King.
We are our Sisters' keepers and TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!
Titus 2:3-5 - Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
The Role of the Older Woman
Let me start with a definition of spiritual mothering from Susan Hunt:
"When a woman possessing faith and spiritual maturity enters into a nurturing relationship with a younger woman in order to encourage and equip her to live for God’s glory.”
As young women desiring to be prepared for life, and hopefully to one day be wives, mothers, and home-keepers, it is vital for us to have godly women in our lives who are not afraid to actively mentor us in our walk toward being a Proverbs 31 woman.
But in this culture, godly mentors for women are few and far between.
When I first came back to church in 1995 after being in the wilderness for many years, I was desperate to be discipled. I knew that I needed to be accountable to some people and to build relationships especially with other women. However, I was not fruitful in my search for that Titus 2 mentor. Instead, this is what I discovered about most women…
1. We are mostly INDIFFERENT
We have our own problems.
We don't have the emotional capacity.
We are self-centered.
2. We are mostly INSECURE
Insecurity implies lacking in confidence and having self-doubt. The result of such insecurity is quick temper, fear of failure, gossip etc…
3. We are mostly COMPETITIVE
It was once said that women dress alike all over the world: they dress to be annoying to other women.
It was also said that most women came from the land of -Er. We all want to be prettiER, smartER, richER… in comparison to another woman!
You want it for yourself, your spouse and your kids but it's all about you!
Then there are those that has the -EST disease. We want to be the prettiEST, the smartEST, richEST, tallEST oh or even the fattEST!
May be the problem is that you hate yourself, your life etc…
There's no winning in Comparison!
Prov 14:30 says, Envy rots the bone.
Eccl 4:4 – all toil and achievement is driven by the envy of others. He saw how determining where they were by where others were. This is meaningless. (v5) Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Don't do nothing!(6) better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (7-8) another meaningless thing- a man all alone neither son nor bro and yet there was no end to his toil and yet not CONTENT with his wealth. (8) for whom am I toiling? Why deprive yourself from enjoyment? it's meaningless and a miserable business!
Due to our indifference, insecurity and competitiveness, these robs us of the ability to build deep and meaningful relationships.
But some might ask, “What if I’m not cut out for mentoring other women”
I understand that the word “mentor” scares us because we have the perception that she must have it all and know it all. However, today I want to correct that. As a woman that is further along in your walk with God and in life, just by obeying God and embracing the virtues of Proverbs 31 and Titus 2, you position yourself to be an example and to teach others. Your role is not to be perfect but to help younger women live out godly lives in an ungodly world.
Paul in Titus gave specific instructions to the older women to teach the younger woman and he gave the reason why – so that the Word of God may not be dishonored – Titus 2:5.
So what can we who are older or spiritually more mature impart to the younger ones:
a. Share the gospel with the young women the Lord has placed in your life.
Only through the gospel of Jesus Christ can a self-centered young woman turn into a Christ focused woman who desires to live out these biblical principles. You are teaching doctrine as you share how to handle unsaved husbands, disciplining children, disagreements between a husband and wife, relating to in-laws and parents, and any other areas that need some guidance on how they are to be dealt with in a God honoring way.
b. Share spiritual truths and their applications.
Be transparent to share how you solve difficult problem through God's way by obeying God's word
Be intentional and purposeful to do good for others,
Be ready to speak truths of biblical womanhood into their lives.
c. Share Practical Management Skills.
The Role of the Younger Woman
As an older woman I want to advise you young women; make sure you remain teachable. I know there is much you know and much us older women can learn from you too, but after being married for 10 years, caring for a home, raising babies and caring for ageing parents, I can assure you we have some guidance and direction that you can learn much from.
Take the time to seek out relationships with older godly women or women who may be younger but spiritually more mature. Spend time with them, watch and learn. Ask questions and plan the time to learn new skills alongside them. Be honest and open to seek help in areas you need guidance.
FINALLY, WHY WE MUST BE OUR SISTERS' KEEPER?
It is God's Mandate – OUR UNIVERSAL CALLING
This is what you are created to do – OUR UNIVERSAL PURPOSE
We are stronger together – OUR UNIVERSAL STRENGTH
Not all of us are called to pastor a church or to lead a group but we are certainly called to minister one to another.
Today’s women need God’s truth, forgiveness, prayer, compassion, affirmation, practical help, love, and a faithful friend. The most common sufferings that women face in their lives are issues such as loneliness, broken relationships, loss and grief, abuse and discouragement. We can show the heart of Jesus Christ to our sisters by reaching out to them with just the right application of truth and love.
For example, a woman who has suffered from spouse abuse is desperate for affirmation. She will often feel worthless and purposeless. The Christian sisters in her life can gather around her and offer acceptance, encouragement, meaning, and God’s vision for her life. They can affirm the truth of God’s purposes for her and His deep love for her.
To me, the 21st century Proverbs 31 women of today is not just one who is doing well in her own life but she is also one to who reaches out to other women and children.
We, in the WOW31 ministry want to encourage all of God's women out there to rise up and be a voice in our generation. Let us bring justice to those who are helpless to fight on their own and to improve the living standards for women and children in disadvantaged situation.
Some shocking facts you need to know:
There are more human slaves today than ever before.
There are 27 millions people enslaved right now while you are reading this article. Majority of them are enslaved for sexual exploitation purposes.
Many of them are women and children. The highest demand right now is 6 years old girls.
I want to urge all of you to rise up as a 21st Century Wow31 women who will commit to combat injustice especially among the women and children in our generation!
Be mightily blessed in Jesus' name!