Proverbs 31, Ephesians 1, and Resting in Jesus.
There she is, with her crafty hands and her industrious mind. Her business sense and her toned arms. Her perfect advice and spotless reputation. Her image is always in front of me...taunting me, challenging me, frustrating me. The standard she sets is just out of my reach.
You know her, too, I bet. We all live in the shadow of The Proverbs 31 Woman.
Oh, those twenty-two verses that describe the woman I want to be. I want to be that hard-working, that honorable, that good at...well, at everything. Doesn’t she seem practically perfect at every. single. thing?
She does seem perfect, but I realized something recently. Those verses describe what she does, not who she is. This passage is a collection of verbs: she does, she looks, she works, she brings, she rises, she gives.
But what about the adjectives? Where are the words that describe who a godly woman is?
Those are found in Ephesians 1. I've underlined them below.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory." (verses 3-12, NASB)
There is more to the Proverbs 31 woman than meets the eye. How is she able to do all the things she does?
Because of who she is.
Look closely at those describing words in Ephesians 1. If you are a Jesus-follower, those words are describing you.
The believer described in Ephesians does not find her identity in the things that she does, and neither should we. She finds her identity in who her Savior tells her she is, and then she behaves accordingly. The actions of a godly woman are evidence of her sanctification. Her behaviors don't have value simply because they are noble. They have value--eternal value--because she is redeemed.
Because the Proverbs 31 woman is chosen, she does. Because she is blessed, she looks. Because she is holy and blameless, she works.
What about you? When you read Proverbs 31, do you sigh and wish you could be more like her? Do you wish you could be as productive and wise and admirable as she is? Oh, sister, this holy chapter was never meant to be discouraging, or to add to our already-overwhelming daily to-do list. In fact, it never even indicates that this woman accomplished all these tasks in a day. It is a description of her sanctification; she accomplished these things throughout her lifetime.
She accomplished them because she has placed her fear and trust in the Lord (Prov. 31:30), not because she is some sort of spiritual superwoman. In whose strength are you working--yours, or the Lord’s?
The bolded words in that section of Ephesians above describe our Holy Father. He is blessed, loving, kind, glorious, gracious, wise, and sovereign. That's the Magnificent Creator Who tells us who we are, and Who enables us to bring Him glory through what we do. It is His strength that is available to us. Do you know Him, friend?
Sister, you can rest. Rest in what Jesus has accomplished for you on the cross. You don’t have to strive. You don’t have to earn His love or acceptance. Ephesians 1 tells us that, if we are His, we already have those things in full. Let us resolve to stop trying to earn what we’ve already been freely given, and just respond to those gifts in grateful obedience.
I am thankful for the example of the woman described in Proverbs 31. But, from now on, I also want to be an Ephesians 1 woman. Because what I do is born out of who He tells me I am. And it is all for the praise of His glory.