What would happen if you took away all the “accomplishments” of the Proverbs 31 woman? All the housecleaning, handwork, industry, labour, and meal preparation? What would be her adornment if she was rendered incapable of all the above? I think lately I’ve been regarding this virtuous model far too much in the lens of what she does rather than who she is: a virtuous woman. Virtue! It’s not attained by rising early, working hard, working late, or even serving others the best that you know how. It isn’t a fruit of endeavouring, it is a fruit of the fear of the LORD. She isn’t virtuous because she’s industrious; she’s virtuous because she fears the Lord, and she’s industrious because she’s virtuous!
This is what the Proverbs 31 woman is at the very core, a woman who fears the LORD, who loves Him, and obeys Him with reverence and devotion. This is why her tongue is ruled by the law of kindness, why she ministers to the weak and poor, ultimately why her husband safely trusts her, and why she is truly a blessing and blessed. Oh! I am so ashamed for my lack! For focusing on outward things and letting the heart go undertouched. Virtue.
Considering and meditating on what this precious fruit of the Lord’s fear is, put simply, it is an outworking of true love. “Moral excellence” is the dictionary definition, and the more I dwell upon it the more I am convinced that charity is the chief virtue, such that all others flow from it: “the greatest of these is charity.”
Love is so much more than feelings of contentment and delight. Which is a good thing, too! because wifing and mothering isn’t always delightful.
There will sure be a lot of that though, like when your 8 month old plants a big, wet, wide-mouthed “kiss” on your cheek, or your 2 year old daughter comes running into your arms for the best hug in the world, or your 3 year old son pulls his chair up beside you as you cook and says “I love you, mother”, or your 4 year old hands you a bouquet of weeds with the most beautiful smile to accompany it, or when your husband talks with you about a common goal and dream, praying with and for you, encouraging.
There is a wealth of treasures in wifehood and motherhood, for sure!
But, there will be days. Days where you wake up to your 8 month old’s hollers after waking up to them all through the night, and before groggily attempting to go back to sleep you will hear an outcry from your 3 year old in another room which you will know instinctively is because he didn’t make the toilet in time, and after you clean up after that and start the dishes you couldn’t wash the night before because your sink was too backed up, your 2 yr old will start her shrill screaming to get out of bed, your husband is “sleeping” through it all, and just when you think perhaps the excitement is dying down, your 4 year old wakes up and starts arguing with your 3 year old about which one is George Washington. Yes, there will be those days, too.
Yet, charity suffereth long, and is kind. Yet, charity never faileth.
This is my fail! Oh, for more charity! for kindness being the law by which my tongue is guided and by which my hands find the will to serve; for a love for the Lord that only grows truer and deeper as He is learned through His word and fellowship; for a hunger for this that will not die; for right fear and true virtue; for charity! not easily provoked, not seeking her own, rejoicing in truth.
The virtuous woman is a woman of charity. There is only so much one can “endeavour” when it comes to this, for love is a fruit of the Spirit, and not the fruit of her hands. Let this be our focus, however. Let us sow to the Holy Spirit, and we will reap of the same. Goals, lists, resolutions, organization: they’re all good, and they are important. But they are not the fear of the Lord, they are not virtue, and they are not charity.
May the Lord make and find us women of virtue indeed.