vocation

Proverbs 31 Is for Men, Too

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Mother’s day is quickly approaching. Here are two items to add to your “to-do” list:

  1. Make sure to give your mother something that is an expression of your love for her.
  2. Crack open your Bible and reconsider the relevance of Proverbs 31 for your life.

As Benjamin and I wrote Every Waking Hour, we reassessed the virtuous woman, and we were delighted to discovered that Proverbs 31 isn’t just for women. Her example is helpful to each of us, especially as it pertains to work and vocation.

The virtuous woman is a sterling picture of work. The virtuous woman is presented as the personification of economic savvy and wisdom at the end of a book that implores readers to seek understanding. The word “economic” here is used in a broad sense, in reference to the web of relationships that people inhabit on a daily basis. For example, the virtuous woman inhabits three of Martin Luther’s four vocational spheres — namely, family, workplace and society.

Scripture highlights the completeness of the woman’s wisdom in a 22-line acrostic poem that demonstrates her thoroughly wise ways from beginning to end (or from A to Z). Thus, her example is far more than a checklist for men to impose on a potential spouse; she is an example of wise living for men and women alike, although she takes on the particularities of femininity and motherhood.

The virtuous woman is an example of wise living for men and women alike.

Here are three things you can learn from the virtuous woman.

1. Live wisely.

The virtuous woman demonstrates how wisdom informs action in our private and public lives. Her husband trusts her implicitly (Proverbs 31:11, 28); the poem’s chiastic structure demonstrates how his success is wrapped up in hers (31:23). In addition, her children rise up and call her blessed because of her tireless care for them (31:28). The consistency of her character shines through the praise of those who know her most intimately.

2. Work wisely at home.

The virtuous woman works wisely in every sphere she engages. Scripture explores the nature of her work in the home by noting that she rises early to provide food for her household (31:15). She does not fret about harsh weather conditions because she has prepared her home for every season (31:21-22). She’s able to accomplish all of this because she does not drink from the cup of idleness (31:27).

3. Work wisely in the marketplace.

The virtuous woman’s diligence is not solely relegated to the home; her industrious spirit stimulates the economy inside and outside of the home in the marketplace (31:13-14). Her business ventures include real estate, farming (31:16), sewing (31:19), and general business instincts (31:18). She is careful to turn her business acumen to the good of others as she ultimately loves God and her neighbors by looking after those who are in need (31:20).

In keeping with the message of Proverbs, the wisdom of the virtuous woman begins with fearing the Lord (9:10; 31:30). She provides a wonderful conclusion to the book of Proverbs and gives each of us a real-life example of wisdom in the workplace.

This post is a modified excerpt of the new book, Every Waking Hour. Learn More>>

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  • vocation
  • women
  • work
Walter R. Strickland II

Dr. Strickland is Associate Vice President for Kingdom Diversity. He also serves as Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology. He is the co-author of Every Waking Hour.

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