Wednesday, January 6, 2010

virtuous and worth above rubies!

Proverbs 31:10 – “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.”

When I started this study, I thought I had a good idea of what the word virtuous meant but decided to check it out in Webster’s dictionary. Webster defines virtuous as morally excellent and upright, of noble character. Then I looked up the definition of noble and found it to mean exalted moral character or excellence. Therefore, a virtuous wife is one that has morally excellent character! Now, it doesn’t stop here. In the Bible, the word for virtuous also means strength and power. Check out these references in Mark 5:30 (power), Philippians 4:8 (characteristics of virtue – we become like the things we reflect on), 2 Peter 1:3 (excellence – the power of God is revealed to us through His earthly life, death, and resurrection), and 2 Peter 1:5 (growth in Christ).

Literally, the verse reads “Who can find a woman of strength (strength of character)?” Exodus 8:21, and 1 Kings 1:42, 52 refer to men, virtuous men,who fear God, love truth, and hate sin. ( It’s the same for women. The virtuous woman fears God, loves truth, and hates sin. We don’t make our husbands ashamed (Proverbs 12:4)!

In the Old Testament, the word virtue is used to describe and army and a woman is an army of virtues! Synonyms for virtue in the OT are force, able, capable, mighty, strong, valiant, powerful, efficient, wealthy, and worthy. (George, E. Beautiful in God’s Eyes) This said ladies, we aren’t weak! We’re an army; strong, and capable, full of strength to accomplish the tasks before us! This is in great contrast to the feminist movement that says if we are submissive and keepers of the home it makes us weak.

Ruth, an outstanding woman of the Bible, was described as a virtuous woman in Ruth 3:11. Why? For several reasons: her relationship with Naomi, her behavior while working in Boaz’s field, and her relationship with Boaz. She was exalted in moral character and was a woman of strength. I think I’ll do a study of Ruth’s life next! (George, E. Beautiful in God’s Eyes)
Elizabeth George found that the Hebrew word for virtuous (ishshan chayil if anyone’s interested in even trying to pronounce it!) means power of mind and body. The power of mind refers to our moral principals and attitudes, those inner qualities that keep us focused and dedicated. The power of body refers to our effectiveness and how we complete the work ahead of us. We need physical strength to do the work of life, the work of love! (George, E. Beautiful in God’s Eyes)

In Martha Peace’s book The Excellent Wife, she refers to this woman as a flower blooming with each petal holding a different characteristic – all necessary to make the flower beautiful and perfect. Picture the flower with petals saying things like good to husband, generous, wise, worker with hands, not afraid, praised, careful, blessed by children, fears the Lord, kind, trusted, respectful to husband, of exceptional worth. I don’t know about you but that sounds like something I’d like to look like.

But how do we look like that flower? If you’re like me, you’re far from it! The answer is quite simple – stick with God! In 2 Peter 1:3-4 it says, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (Read on a little further and you’ll be challenged some more!) God has given us everything we need to become this virtuous woman. We must simply have a Christ-centered life – be in His word daily, pray, find encouragement with other Christians, learn about the virtuous women of the Bible. The only thing that will hinder us from being this virtuous woman is sin. We must purge our lives of sin.

Just a quick note about living a Christ-centered life that I was challenged by Sunday in Sunday school. There are three things we must do: Get rid of that favorite sin. We all have one, something we love and are holding on to. We’ll never be completely effective for Christ if we’re holding on to a sin. Be ready for rejection from the world. If we’re following Christ, there is going to be something the world does not like about us. Check out these references: 1 John 2:15-16 and John 15:19-20. Finally, living a Christ-centered life will cost us first place in our life. It won’t be about what we want. We must surrender to Christ and ask Him what do you want for my life? Christ is our example; it cost Him his life (Matthew 26:39) (Tim Winkler, Grace Bible Church)

Almost done! The latter half of the verse says, “her worth is far above rubies”. A little tidbit about rubies – they are a very rare gem and actually surpass diamonds of equal weight and value. (George, E. Beautiful in God’s Eyes) The woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes would be of inestimable value!

The jewel that is described in this verse is not referring to the physical jewel but that the wife should be the jewel in her husband’s life and family’s life. The wife brings love, color, joy, life, and energy to the home no matter how hard times are. She does this through practical skills (homemaking, time/money management) and through emotional stability (tolerance – Phil.4:13, temper – Prov. 25:28, and tongue – Prov. 16: 21,24). (George, E. Beautiful in God’s Eyes). Is this easy? No way! Especially since we women are more emotional. This is something I have to work on – keeping my emotions in check. When I let my emotions get the best of me, I’m not fully relying on Christ (Prov. 3:5).

A lot to take in? Yes, I feel the same way! However, I know that by keeping Christ first in our life we can do. I can do it! We can become that virtuous woman – strong and able, morally upright, one who is the sparkling jewel in the lives of our family!

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