Yesterday I attended a breakfast with many from Pastor Joyce Vassell's 'Women of Excellence' Ministry. She is now retired from this work and is ministering more locally in Milton Keynes (Can you believe she is nearly 60!) and the breakfast was the second annual meeting of the 'Proverbs 31 Woman' Ministries run by a lady called Esther.
It was a great time and whilst taking notes I was inspired with ideas to write many posts, so you'll be hearing a lot about it over the next coming weeks.
The first thing I want to share is a message that Pastor Olivea Ebanks shared with us. She wanted to talk about how we read the proverbs 31 woman. The first thing she did was show us verse by verse contrasts throughout scripture. I didn't write them down in time, so here are a few of my own: God's character
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
God's character is not to withhold anything good, neither is the proverbs 31 woman's.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and justice for the poor.
God's heart is for the broken, the poor and those in need, so it the proverbs 31 woman's.
Proverbs 31: 26
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
With Him are wisdom and might; To Him belong counsel and understanding
God is wise and offers good counsel, so does the woman in proverbs 31
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
God who watches over you is not lazy and will not forget his duty; neither will the proverbs 31 woman.
We could go on all day, but hopefully that's enough to illustrate the point. The proverbs 31 chapter isn't a checklist for women of 'how to be a good wife', it's an illustration of a women who is displaying the fruits of God's character in her life.
We are all called to bear fruit in our lives, the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentlenss, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (gal 5:22,23). Reading the proverbs 31 woman's description and setting it as a goal is enough to make any woman throw her hands up in despair and cry out 'it can't be done!' but it's not a goal. It's an illustration of what a women following God's heart looks like.
If we are firmly rooted in God, and our character is being conformed not to the world, but to that of Jesus Christ, then we can rest assured that as the incredible as the proverbs 31 woman is, we will be just as precious, worth more than rubies to any man.
We need to take our eyes off the goal posts, and start looking at God. Only then will we start to bear His fruit in our lives and attain the characteristics of the proverbs 31 woman, who's characteristics are that of our very God.