*Originally posted in Vietnam*
During my study for a book I’m writing on leadership, I felt led by God to look at the nature of love between the man and his wife. For this study I looked at Song of Solomon and Proverbs 31 (I want to encourage you to read these, because they say a lot about what we need to look for also). As someone in my mid-thirties and single, I’m not an expert on married life, but there are lessons from these scriptures that we can apply to our journey together as a Church, and also whether we are single, dating or have been married for years.
You’ve heard about the Proverbs 31 woman? The woman all godly men want to marry? The woman all godly women want to be? Well today, I want to introduce you to her husband: The Proverbs 31 man. Let’s take a look at Proverbs 31:11-31
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (ESV)
Wow! What a Woman! I can hear single guys the world over fighting to get a look at this magical lady, and wondering how they can get her phone number hehe. However, to be the kind of man that even stands a chance with this wonderful lady, you’re going to need something special. To be a Proverbs 31 guy, we will need three qualities.
1) Trust. Verse 11 says that the man trusts his wife. Trust is key in any relationship. The kind of trust that Peter showed in Jesus when he was called out upon the water, and the kind of trust shown by the Wife in Song of Solomon (2:5-6). Many relationships can be harmed by a lack of trust, especially if there has been something to damage the relationship. I have struggled with trust in previous relationships, especially if my partner’s previous boyfriend’s are still close to them. This can also be true of our relationships in Church, where someone may have hurt us, or abused our trust. We must forgive for the sake of our relationship with each other, and also our relationship to God.
2) Release. Being able to trust others means that we can release them in to the calling that God has for them. Verse 23 says that the man is a City Elder, known throughout the land. This is a hard job, full of pressure and responsibility (I know, because I used to do this job!) However, because he trusts in his wife to build their home and to bless the community, he doesn’t stop her from fulfilling her role as provider. In fact, he is fully aware of her abilities, and lets her get on with it. Empowering is also important in the Church, as we recognize other people’s ministries. John the Baptist could have held on to his ministry, but knew Jesus was going to fulfill His role as Messiah, and not John. This is hard if we don’t trust others, but it is something we must do, unless we discourage them, and kill the seed God has planted in their heart.
3) Affirm. Verses 28-29 say that the family rises up to praise the wife for her great job well done. Affirmation is something sadly lacking from many Churches (and marriages), but it is really important if we are to encourage each other in faith. Married men, do you praise your wife? Do you tell her she is beautiful, and that you wouldn’t wish for any other? Do you comment on her great cooking, or her devotion to the Lord, or do you put her down? Do you criticize her, or do you let her know that you are thankful for her role in your life? If not, do it. Why? Because God is all about affirming His creation. In Genesis, it says God called His creation good. He delights in it. Zephaniah 3:17 says the Lord dances over us, because He delights in us. When He creates Adam, he says that he is made in the Lord’s image. He affirms His creation, and pours into him his purpose and divine love. Adam then follows by saying the same thing about Eve, that she is part of him. Telling people they are special, whether it is the love of your life, or the Pastor for preaching a great sermon, or for those who serve us on a Sunday is okay, as God wants us to encourage each other. Today, I want to encourage you all to live lives of love, and to seek God’s best, whether single or married. Amen.